Sightsavers Reports

Fast-forward two years, and the change in Henry is incredible…

Henry attends an inclusive school.

When we first met Henry Bangalie in 2014, the 14-year-old was so shy and quiet that his teachers were concerned about him, and worried he was struggling at the inclusive school he attended.

When we spoke to him about his experiences as a blind student in a country where stigma around disability is rife, we could hardly hear his responses. Fast-forward two years, and the change in Henry is incredible.

We returned to his school in Sierra Leone in 2016 to see how he was getting on, and the cheeky, confident teenager who came out to meet us was barely recognisable from the boy who’d shied away from attention previously.

Henry with his friend Jenneh.
Henry with his friend Jenneh.

Inclusive education in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone can be a tough place to grow up for children with disabilities; many are written off and seen as not worth educating. For Henry, the value of going to school has been not just in learning, but in gaining confidence and social skills. He’s really found his feet, and his teachers are thrilled with his progress – they proudly told us how clever and committed to learning he is.

Like his friend Jenneh, he’s frustrated by the lack of materials to support him in learning maths, and he finds classwork difficult when people write on the board but don’t explain what they’re writing. But these setbacks seem unlikely to stop him persevering and achieving his goals.

When we ask what message he’d have for other children with disabilities, he says, “Come to school! Without education we are nothing. [We need to] show that we can do something [other people] can do.”

Henry stands by his classroom door.

“I want to be a politician”

Henry spends a lot of time listening to politicians and learning how they speak – and when we ask him about his future parliamentary ambitions, he shows us he’s already mastered the art of a commanding statement. “I want to be a politician,” he says. “I want to change the face of my country.”

Seeing the change in Henry shows just how powerful access to education is, and highlights the huge injustice facing millions of other young people like him around the world who haven’t been given the same chance – the same right – to learn.

We think all people with disabilities deserve to have the same opportunities to access health care, education and employment as their peers, which is why we campaign to make a disability-inclusive world a reality.

Join us and add your voice to the call for a fairer future!

Henry in his classroom.

“Without education, we are nothing. We need to show we can do what other people can do.”

Henry in his classroom.

We campaign for equality for people with disabilities

Learn more

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