They took her to hospital, where they were told that she had limited vision in one eye, and couldn’t see from the other. The doctor advised them to take her to Dakar for examination. Seynabou’s parents were told that her stronger eye could deteriorate over time.
When Seynabou went to school, she couldn’t read anything unless the book was very close to her eye. Her marks were poor and she was falling behind in class. Even though they knew she was having difficulty, her parents wanted Seynabou to get used to going to school like her friends. But it was painful for them to see how she was struggling, and they were thinking about taking her out of school while they tried to find a way to pay for more surgery.
While she was at school, Seynabou heard a talk by Khady Gueye, a visiting speaker and headmistress from an inclusive school, about the importance of education for children with disabilities. Seynabou approached Khady and asked if she could come to the inclusive school because of her poor vision. Khady contacted Seynabou’s parents and arranged for her to attend, and the inclusive education programme also helped Khady’s parents with funding for further eye surgery.
Seynabou’s parents told us they were very pleased when Khady came to visit them. “Education is very important,” her father told us. “If you go to school and have your certificate you can find a job. If you don’t go to school you won’t know anything, you will be an ignorant person; education is very important. I will feel very happy when she goes to school.”
Sightsavers’ inclusive education programme in Senegal is funded by Irish Aid.
July 2020 update: During the COVID-19 pandemic, Seynabou is receiving homework through WhatsApp to support her ongoing learning at home. Her father Magatte says she spends much of her time reading and her teacher Mrs Maimouna Sarr tells us Seynabou reads well.
We first met Mbathio in 2015 at an inclusive school in Dakar, Senegal. Read her story and find out how she’s getting on four years later.