Advocacy Project first met Ivan in 2015 at Tochi Primary School. He is a bright student with a one track mind. “I do not want a girlfriend; I just want to study to reach Standard 4.” When I ask him about after he finishes secondary school, he grins and looks down at the grass, “We’ll see.”
Ivan suffers from a mild form of cerebral palsy which makes walking painful. He aspires to be an electrical engineer and to repay his mother, who has been supporting him, single-handedly, his whole life. “She doesn’t have a job; she works on the farm so that I can stay at a private school”. Ivan says his mom was the only person to encourage him. “You know, children just like to tease. Its fine until they realize you are not like them, that you are different. Once they see you cannot run or jump or play football, they just laugh at you”. Ivan goes silent for a long minute, reliving some of the bullying was clearly a lot to bear. “I could not even go to the bathroom because it hurts when I squat. This is why the [GDPU latrine] was so helpful for me. I could use the handrails without pain or fear of falling over.”
He goes silent again, this time for much longer. He eventually comes back with a softer look on his face. “It’s better now that I am in secondary school. The students are much friendlier and there are other disabled students there. People still make jokes, but that does not matter. My disability does not stop me from doing anything.” The shift in optimism was stark but genuine. It seems like Ivan is used to shaking it off, letting go of the past in exchange for the future. Within seconds, he is talking about physics and mathematics. From 2015 to today
Ivan has blossomed. He thanks GDPU and AP for helping him feel more comfortable in school and I thanked him for being an inspiration.
Posted By Chris Markomanolakis (Uganda)
Posted Jul 28th, 2018