I was at school. A teacher slapped me in the eyes… the teacher that slapped me was supposed to pay some of my school fees [to attend an inclusive school] but he failed, and my father couldn’t pay because he is very poor. So I had to stop going to school. It disturbed my brain and destroyed my future. I went back home and stayed there, just waking up, asking for sweet potatoes, mangoes, I slept, I ate. That is the way all these years were going.
I had lost hope, and I was waiting for the day of my death.
When I started to learn knitting, it was difficult. But I thought: I tell everyone who knows me that I’m somehow clever; how can I go back home saying I have failed by one point? If I fail to pass, it will mean I continue to be in bad condition. But if I’m working for myself, I can buy the things I want. I pledged I would not go back home the same as I came. I still have hope that if I go on studying, it will help me in future.
People have [in the past] been laughing at me. But if I have money people cannot treat me like that.
One day, a person put a motorcycle in front of me, to prove that I can see, I knocked the motorcycle and people started to laugh. Then they said: “We have seen, he is very useless.”
Now if they see me in the village, they say: “Hello Mr Isaac, how are you? How is your study?” I have benefited, and other people with disabilities have benefited – this programme has contributed much towards our lives. I’m very happy.
After getting a knitting machine, I will work. I can earn money, I can even get a partner, I can care for my family, I can help other people. If a blind person comes, or any person with a disability, I can also help him or her, where they can afford.
Disability is not inability. It does not stop you from doing any work another person can perform. My wish is to change the opinions about people with disabilities. For instance, if someone in the village is looking for a contribution, they will ask: “A blind man? Is he the one who has contributed?” when I contribute money from selling a sweater. Then I can change the opinions of people who are not disabled.
Johnan is Isaac’s younger brother. He’s always looked up to Isaac, and he tells us about how hard it was to see his brother lose hope after leaving school – and how much the programme has changed Isaac’s life.
“After getting sponsorship from Sightsavers we were very happy, because we had no way out and then we got a chance. We had announcements on the radio, in the village, to go to the office for people with disabilities. A group of people gathered, we joined them, that’s when we saw some people introducing Sightsavers. We met other blind people too.”