Just like any other 5 year old boy, Fanuel has hopes and dreams for his future…
“When I grow up, I want to become a doctor so that I can help other children like me.”
Yet Fanuel’s parents were concerned that that their youngest son would never have a chance of achieving his dreams, all because he was born with Phocomelia, a rare birth defect which, in Fanuel’s case, resulted in his limbs underdeveloping.
Fanuel has encountered many barriers in his life already. As he struggles to balance well, Fanuel spent much of his early childhood lying down at home and was left feeling completely isolated. Whilst his parents struggled to find a school that would accept him because of his disability, his older brother left the house each day to attend school with his friends. Fanuel’s mother attempted to enrol him in a number of schools, but he was refused each and every time. She eventually lost all hope and had to make the heart-breaking decision to keep Fanuel at home.
It was after she had been forced to make this decision that Fanuel’s mother caught wind of a project called ‘Take All my Friends to School’ as a result of some local advocacy work close to where the family live. She attended a Parent Support Group meeting, run at a nearby school, which taught her about inclusive education and disability rights. The group reassured her that the teachers involved in this project have received specific training on teaching disabled children and she was advised to enrol Fanuel at a school linked with the project.
Fanuel started school at once! He is enjoying every single day and is finally able to learn and play with other children his own age and is extremely happy that he is now able to leave the house alongside his brother instead of being forced to stay at home.
Want to know more about the project?
AbleChildAfrica has been working with Child Support Tanzania, which is based in Mbeya, southern Tanzania, since 2007 and in 2015 received funding from Jersey Overseas Aid to deliver a similar project on a smaller scale. Since then, the ‘Take All my Friends to School’ campaign has organised charity walks and open days, the launch of a local petition for inclusive education, the piloting of teacher training packages, as well as the provision of educational materials that have been distributed within the community.
In 2017, AbleChildAfrica and Child Support Tanzania were able to launch a scale-up of the project to further increase the access, quantity and quality of inclusive education. This four-year programme, which is supported by Comic Relief, primarily works with 8 primary schools and early childhood centres in Mbeya. By training teachers, children and parents in the inclusive Child-to-Child methodology developed by AbleChildAfrica and our partner Ugandan Society for Disabled Children in Uganda, this project is taking a child-led approach to breaking down the barriers that prevent disabled children from going to school. The project identifies out-of-school disabled children in the surrounding communities and supports them to enrol into mainstream government schools, making inclusive education a reality in Mbeya. Crucially, the project is continuing to work closely with the government in working towards both local and national commitments to inclusive education to ensure children across Tanzania are able to benefit from the fantastic results that the project is seeing.
Fanuel is just one example of a child whose life has been transformed as a result of this project…