Thirteen-year-old Abel Ahmed is a member of a Speed School class in Oromia, Ethiopia. He is from a low-income family and is visually impaired. In the past, his disability made learning a struggle for him. He was bright and eager to learn, but his family lacked the resources and awareness to confront the practical challenges and discrimination that children with disabilities routinely confront. Abel recalled wanting to play and be social with other students but, due to the overall challenges with being disabled, he said “I feared contacting and playing with other children due to my fear of discrimination. The cultural problem also created a challenge for me to actively interact with social services. My family assumed that most people had no awareness on disability issues, believing they would discriminate against me and were not interested to let me interact with others”.
Abel’s mother, Liya, added, “we did not have enough information on disability issues, and we were not ready to give Abel the chance to interact and play with other children in the surrounding areas. In general, he has suffered a lot over the last thirteen years. He faced much discrimination from others and received no medical services. Basically, he lost his life without educational opportunities.”
Since joining his Speed School class, Abel has learned how to spell in Afaan Oromoo and English, can recite his numbers, and perform basic addition and subtraction with smaller numbers while using his fingers or counting stones. Another subject he is learning in school is elementary environmental science, which has helped him to develop agricultural skills. He has also benefited from some of the simple aids that enhance his ability and confidence to engage in his studies and in life. These include a tape recorder, a walking stick, braille slates, and a stylus.
As a member of Speed School, Abel has begun learning and playing with his classmates and attending school despite his disabilities. Something that his mother is very happy about. “I could not believe this; it was amazing for me when I see his engagement in the class and learning with other children. Now I am very happy because the time was very challenging for us, everything was not good for our child Abel.”
Because of the Speed School facilitator’s commitment and dedication to supporting his education, both inside and outside of the classroom, Abel is working towards being able to read and write in the future. His ultimate goal is to become a lawyer and help others.
Both Abel and his family are exceedingly satisfied with the program and the support that they have been given, and they extend that gratitude to the Speed School program. “Thank you for the organization and staff who have supported him beyond our expectations”, Liya stated
*Names changed to protect the privacy of those involved*