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Sightsavers Reports

Aminata’s future transformed

August 2015
Aminata Gueye is wearing a dark top, sitting at a desk, talking.

Seven-year-old Aminata finds her wooden school desk by feeling her way along the furniture in the room.

Her teacher hands her a piece of paper with braille on it, her lesson for the morning, before writing the same information on the blackboard for the rest of the class. Aminata tilts her head back, hanging onto her teacher’s every word, raising her hand to answer questions. She won’t let her disability get in the way – just like her classmates she’s inquisitive, attentive and playful.

Aminata was born blind, as were her parents and three of her siblings. Before attending the inclusive school, she spent her days sitting at home while her parents went begging to support their family. She was too young to help with family chores or to go out by herself. Now, her day has structure and purpose.

Aminata Gueye has her hands over a wooden block. Her eyes are closed and she is feeling the round holes in the block.

Aminata learns alongside her friends

Each morning, she packs her blue braille board into a bag and is collected by a woman who walks her safely to school. There, she joins her friends in the same lessons. When the other children raise their chalkboards in the air for the teacher to check their work, Aminata does the same with her braille board, allowing her work to be assessed in the exact same way. Here, Aminata is no different, and that instils in her a huge sense of confidence and self-worth.

“I want to keep going to school – I want to be a teacher and teach French. French is my favourite subject,” she says. “I like my teacher and I want to be just like her. She wears beautiful clothes. I know because I touch her clothes to find out.”

After school, Aminata plays at home with her large extended family, moving quickly and comfortably around the familiar environment, and jumping with ease over huge cracks in the ground. “Aminata is much happier now that she goes to school,” says her mother. “I hear her singing, and she brings things home from school, such as sticks to practise counting with. I want her to stay in school and learn a lot of things, so when she is older she can get a job and help to support her family.”

The benefits to Aminata in being educated alongside her peers are invaluable. Being part of the school, and learning with her friends, makes her feel included and valued, helping her to thrive and develop into a happy, confident child. A mural painted on the wall of the school says it all: “Mon handicap, ma motivation.”

 

Offering inclusive education in Senegal

It’s not always easy to show the journey from policy decision-making to real change in people’s lives, but Aminata’s story is a perfect example. Working with Sightsavers, the Senegalese government instigated the inclusive education project, trained the staff and enrolled the children. Aminata went from sitting at home all day to getting an education, and when she’s finished schooling she’ll not only have gained the skills to live independently, but also be employable and able to contribute to the family finances. Her whole family will benefit – the difference in their financial situation will be significant, and the difference in their lives will be immeasurable.

The stories of children like Aminata are what motivates us and drives our campaigning work. We want all children with disabilities to be able to access education just like their peers, and to have the same chance of a fulfilling life where they can play an active role in society. It should be their right, and we want to support them to claim it. Will you help us do it?

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Aminata Gueye is running along a corridor brushing her hand along a cream wall.

“I want to keep going to school. I want to be a teacher when I grow up and teach French.”

Aminata Gueye is running along a corridor brushing her hand along a cream wall.

We campaign for equality for people with disabilities

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