Shimfe Sarah Haggai, Special Education and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Jos, Nigeria
My name is Shimfe Sarah Haggai. I am presently a student at the University of Jos, Nigeria, Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation Sciences with specialization in Visual Handicap (VH).
I was not born with visual disability. I became visually impaired at the age of 10. I was seriously sick and was diagnosed with malaria fever. I went through a series of treatments, and I was cured of the malaria fever, but I began to lose my sight gradually. After a year, my parents took me to the hospital. After series of diagnoses, the doctors discovered that the gradual loss of my sight was as a result of the malaria fever injections that were given to me. It was a shock to me that I was losing my sight. I was devastated but with the help of my parents, family members and friends, I was able to gather courage and continue with my life.
With special education, all hope was not lost for me. I attended Special School from primary to secondary education where I learnt daily living skills and since then, I have worked hard to cope with my condition and to face daily challenges. Among the major challenges that I encountered when I lost my sight were rejection, discrimination, and stigmatization. Some people used some derogatory words and called me names. This makes me very upset. I was stigmatized against in public places many times, and some people fear to associate with me because of my sight disability. I also faced the challenge of mobility and learning to do things independently.
The importance of this scholarship cannot be over emphasized. I was able to pay my school fees debt. I can proudly say that I have paid all my school fees thanks to the scholarship. Schooling materials, particularly braille materials, are very expensive. With this scholarship, I was able to purchase vital learning materials in braille. The scholarship has also helped me conduct all my University research activities.
The scholarship has impacted my life in so many ways and has helped me achieve my education and career goals. Firstly, it reduced my dependence on other people for financial support of my school fees. Secondly, it reduced the schooling expenses on my parents and family members and thirdly, this scholarship has given me hope and peace of mind. Overall, it is helping me to accomplish my current goal and eventfully becoming a successful professional in Special Education and Rehabilitation Sciences. I desire to live independently; therefore, I must keep studying in order to be an achiever. This is what motivates me to study hard. In future, I want to be a counselor of visually impaired children and parents and help them overcome discrimination and stigmatization, especially girls.
My advice to people living with visual disability is to be determined in life because determination is the key to success and achievement in life. Don’t allow people to decide your future for you. Have a dream, focus and work tirelessly towards achieving your dream.
Tella Praise Ife – Special Education and Rehabilitation Science student, University of Jos, Nigeria
My Name is Tella Praise Ife, from Oyo state Nigeria, currently studying Special Education and Rehabilitation Science at Federal University of Jos, Nigeria.
I love reading novels, inspirational books and singing. I am computer literate, expert in braille reading and writing. I lost my sight at the age of Eleven (11), that was in the year 2007 because I had severe meningitis and I couldn’t continue treatment due to lack of funds.
It has not been easy as a blind person, but with the advancement of technology, friends and family have been helping me to cope. Also, I believe, with the support from the world Blind Union, living will become much easier to me.
Every day I am exposed to different forms of challenges. Some of the challenges include:
- Mobility challenge: Most of the time, I find it difficult to move within and outside the school premises. Due to unfriendly physical environment and bad structural architecture. The government has not implemented policies that enable easy mobility of persons with visual impairment.
- Discrimination: Sometimes, I face discrimination from both lecturers, students, and other people in general.
- Lack of Learning aids: Most of the materials and equipment I need for my studies are not available and the ones available are very expensive and very difficult to get.
The WBU scholarship is very important to me because, it enabled me to acquire most of the information materials and equipment needed for my study and other resources that enhance my learning activities. The scholarship will go a long way to solve both my academic and personal need.
I believe knowledge is power and I know it is through education I am relevant to society and the world at large. I urge other persons with disabilities never to give up because success comes to those that do not give up. In future, I hope to help people with the disabilities, especially person’s with visual impairment.
Ameh Dorcas, special education, University of Jos, Nigeria
I am Ameh Dorcas from Benue State Nigeria. I lost sight after primary school. Therefore, I proceeded to special school for the blind. Currently, I am undergraduate student at the University of Jos Nigeria, studying special education.
At first it wasn’t easy since I was not born with visual impairment. It was quite challenging, I lost a lot of friends, I had to drop out of school for a while because of self-denial but after I accepted the condition, I went back to school to learn a new way of reading and writing using braille. Presently at the University, I use laptop with the help of jaws and a braille machine.
I have to use my tape recorder in the lecture hall, to be able to record the lecture and after that I come back and form my own notes. Sometimes getting a sighted person to dictate the notes is quite challenging. Even with the use of the white cane, movement from faculty to faculty is still quite challenging.
However, the WBU scholarship is very important to me because, it will facilitate my learning. For example, with the help of the braille embosser, I am able to get all soft copies of my lecturers and translate it into braille. The scholarship helped improve my academic performance.
I am motivated and I want to acquire more knowledge so as to have a positive impact on my generation and to contribute in helping persons with visual impairment.
My advice to people with visual impairment like me is that they should learn to accept the condition and move on. They should not limit themselves and should have high self-esteem and know that education is power.
In future, I see myself owning a special education school for the blind children. And also, to own a Non-Governmental Organization to meet the needs of all categories of persons with special needs.
I appreciate WBU, who have imparted my life greatly and I request that this great privilege should be extended to persons with visual impairment worldwide.
Rebecca Hassan Kwayama, Special Education, University of Jos, Nigeria
My name is Rebecca Hassan Kwayama, presently studying at the University of Jos, Nigeria. I joined primary one through six for First living School Certificate after which I proceeded to Government Junior Secondary School Bally for JSS studies. However, I was not lucky to complete JSS studies as expected as I was slowed down by a common and seasonal eye problem called Apollo. Like other viruses, it affected all the members of the family. I was the last one in the family to be infected. The problem rejected all medication and gradually grew from ordinary eye pain to a chronic one, stopping me from pursuing educational activities. I finally lost vision, despite all efforts to rescue my situation.
After some struggles of accepting the fact of vision loss, I took the courage to start all over again by enrolling in the Special Education School in Kaduna in 1999, where I learned how to read and write in Braille for one Year. I then moved on to complete JSS Education at Special School Bauchi in 2001-2003. I joined senior secondary School in Special Education Centre Jada Adamawa State from 2003-2005. By November 2005 I was accepted at the University of Jos to study Special Education (Visual handicap. VH) at Diploma level and graduated in 2007. Afterwards, I was employed in Special Education Centre Gombe as a Teacher in January 2008, where I have been working as a teacher till 2017 when I enrolled into the University of Jos to study Special Education at degree level.
Some challenges include stigma by public and some family members; rights abuses/infringement by some government, agencies and institutes, discrimination by public officers and even the general public on various issues, etc.
The WBU scholarship is important to me because am an orphan trying to make ends meet and fending for my studies all by myself. The scholarship will go a long way in helping me to get all materials for my studies and also support in offsetting some outstanding school fees. It will further facilitate my pursuit for career development.
To all blind and partially sighted persons, and people with other disabilities, it’s possible to live happy and successful just as anybody else, if you pickup the courage to accept who you are and see yourself as able. I look forward to obtaining my masters degree and PhD, then teaching, mentoring and motivating the youth and contributing positively to the development of my community.
Adzivon Ami Déla-li, Master’s in development student, University of Lomé, Togo
My name is Adzivon Ami Déla-li, born in Lomé, attending the University of Lomé. I was born with visual impairment and I had the opportunity to take classes in one of the specialized schools located in the region thanks to the awareness of my parents. After graduating from EDPS, I continued to college in the same region.
In 2012 I enrolled at the University of Lome where I graduated in sociology in 2017. I then enrolled for a Master of development programme in 2019.
I see very blurry, so I move around using my white cane and I can get some help from some people on campus. However, some people have little time for me, or I use motorcycle taxis to which I pay the travel expenses; which is sometimes expensive but i have no choice given my disability.
The challenges I face due to blindness are rejection by some non-disabled people; this frustrates me at times. Also, I cannot accomplish certain tasks due to financial strains.
The WBU scholarship is very important to me. I wouldn’t have continued with my education without it. It enabled me to pay registration fee. And since I am writing my dissertation, I use it for field research. I do not come from a wealthy family therefore without the help of WBU scholarship I do not think I could have obtained university education today.
My message to persons with visual impairment is that education is essential in life, to be successful. In the years to come I would like to work in international organizations. In Togo, visually impaired people struggle with diverse problems. It would be great for WBU to award more people with scholarships to obtain education or to support employment opportunities. I want to acquire a lot of knowledge and also to have a worthy job to survive and also to help other people in need.
Ohunu Kossiwa Marie, law student from Togo
My name is Ohunu Kossiwa Marie, a law student at the University of Lome, Togo. I would describe myself as humble, creative and I enjoy team spirit. These characteristics enable me to evolve in my studies and grow intellectually.
I was born blind. Although blindness presents many challenges, I manage to get around and be independent thanks to support I receive from the Center for Specialized Education for the Blind (CESA).
Other key challenges are financial difficulties and lack of sufficient educational materials. I am therefore grateful to the World Blind Union for the scholarship as it will enable me to pursue my studies and contribute positively to my society.
Being able to study is important as it will open opportunities for employment and help me attain independence.I advise other young people with disabilities to take education seriously as it is important for their future.
I am working hard to obtain a Master’s degree and become a lawyer in the next few years. I am truly grateful to WBU for the scholarship (The Pedro Zurita Youth Fund) opportunity and urge the WBU to continue supporting other students with visual disabilities.
Noah Nartey, B.A Psychology student from Ghana
My name is Noah Nartey. I come from Krobo – Odumasi, Ghana. I am a B.A Psychology student at the University of Ghana. My sight impairment started in July 2011. Ever since then, I experienced a decline in my vision. A visual test conducted on me revealed that some part of my eye was damaged. In 2013, I was diagnosed with glaucoma and since then, I use eye drops to help reduce pressure and prevent my sight from further deterioration.
As a student, I find it difficult to see from the projected screens during lectures hence I rely on my colleagues to write some notes for me. Also, reading books with small font sizes is very difficult especially during vacation since I don’t have any assistive technology at home.
In addition, education is very expensive in Ghana. Buying books, payment of academic and residential fees, notwithstanding food and other basics make education expensive. And in my case having to use medications continuously creates further financial burden to my family.
The WBU scholarship (The Pedro Zurita Youth Fund) will enable me to pursue my education. I am committed to acquiring knowledge and skills that can help me live independently and contribute positively to my society.
Tchoka Abra, History student from Lome Togo
My name is Tchoka Abra, from Lomé, Togo. I am a second year student at the Department of History, University of Lomé. I am blind and an orphan.
My visual impairment is due to glaucoma which I have had for 17 years. At first it was hard for me to deal with the condition but I have adjusted to it over time. I have had many challenges especially related to mobility, reading documents and conducting research.
The WBU scholarship is very important to me because it will help me evolve and get better in my studies. The impact that it will have is not just for me. It will change my life and also that of those around me.
My motivation to continue my studies is to be better considered in society despite my disability. Having a disability is not a weakness, we can strive to success and achieve our ambitions.
I am grateful that this scholarship (The Pedro Zurita Youth Fund) will contribute positively to my academic career.
Marcelline Gato Nzamwitakuze, journalism and communication student, from Rwanda
My name is Marcelline Gato Nzamwitakuze, a 24 years old student of journalism and communication at the University of Rwanda. I am visually impaired, I use braille for reading and writing, jaws for computer’s use and a White Cane to walk around.
The WBU scholarship (The Pedro Zurita Youth Fund) is very important to me because it is going to help me acquire braille reading materials and cover other school expenses. My dream is to become a professional journalist and advocate for problems facing people with disabilities. Also, being the only educated person among my siblings, I want to improve living conditions of my family and contribute better to my organization; the Rwanda Union of the Blind which advocates for the rights of the blind and partially sighted persons.
My advice to other people with a disability is not to be discouraged by barriers or problems that we face every day. Keep on rising, show what you can do and seek the support you need. I thank the WBU for choosing me to get this scholarship. It is a big chance for me. I will use it properly to make a positive impact on my life through studies.
Zougbetan Akouvi from Lomé, Togo
I am Zougbetan Akouvi from Lomé, Togo. I am a student of modern French and African literature.
I am totally blind. I was unable to attend school for 7 years due to my vision loss. However, in 2011 I was fortunate to join a specialized school in Lomé for two years of learning Braille and training in inclusive education, after which I resumed my regular studies in 2014.
My goal is to continue my studies in modern literature and eventually become a teacher so that I can help other blind people to improve their studies and fulfill their career goals.
One of the main challenges I encounter is that most literary works are not in Braille and the electronic versions are hardly available in Africa. Also it is difficult to access a computer and internet.
I am grateful that the WBU scholarship (The Pedro Zurita Youth Fund) will support me through my studies and to overcome these challenges. My dream is to complete my studies, attain employment and self independence.
I also aspire to contribute positively through my experiences so that I can help create a more informed and enlightened society about the challenges we face and how through literature we can provide solutions to those challenges.
I am confident and proud of my identity. My blindness is not a weakness. I will keep fighting the challenges I face.
Find out more about the WBU scholarships programmes .