I want to become a teacher!
- © CBM
Yasmina, from Niger, is five years old. She is part of a CBR programme run by CBM partner PRAHN, and is in grade one, with her friends, at her local primary school. Integration is not easy, but leads to optimism - Yasmina wants to be a teacher when she grows up.
Why can I not do that?
That was about two years ago, when Yasmina was three. She could still only crawl. Her parents had tears in their eyes, having no answer for her question. They loved their daughter, without doubt, but how could they explain to her that she might never be able to walk?
“When Yasmina was born five years ago, she had an open back (spina bifida) and her legs were not straight but crossed and pulled up towards her body”, her mother, a teacher, recalls.
Through its CBR programme, PRAHN is dealing with about 9000 persons with disabilities a year to help alleviate poverty in Niger. This is a huge number, but still there is need for many more of such CBR programmes - according to the WHO, there are more than one million people with disabilities living in Niger.
Therapy and rehabilitation - a long process
“Such a correction needs time”, PRAHN rehabilitation workers told us.
“My daughter was really brave throughout the whole procedure. We were all so full of hope and joy at the thought that she would finally get some help”, her mother says.
Slowly, Yasmina learnt to walk on a walking frame. She also received fitted splints which were made for her at the orthopaedic workshop of PRAHN. Those splints made of hard plastic are supposed to support the legs and feet and to keep them in the right position. Seven months long Yasmina practised walking on the frame every day.
“It was amazing to watch her and to see how strong her will was. It was very hard work for her but you could also see how happy she was. Finally she could walk, just like her younger brother”, Sali Saley recalls. He is one of seven so called monitors who travel upcountry and search for people with disabilities in remote areas. They heighten the awareness in the villages, offer professional help to the patients and support their rehabilitation at home.
In the beginning the PRAHN rehabilitation worker visited Yasmina regularly. He practised walking with her, first at the frame, later with crutches. She still needs those crutches today.
“It is hard to say if she will be able to walk all on her own one day. At the moment she still makes two steps at once and not one after the other. We will have to wait and see what the development is like. Maybe at some point she will only need one crutch…”physiotherapist Issoufou Alzouma says. He is the head of “Hope House” in Niamey, a rehabilitation centre which belongs to PRAHN and is also supported by CBM, and the place where Yasmina learned to make her first steps after the surgery.
Starting school! But it is not always easy...
57 children attend Grade One. Teacher Salamatou is happy about Yasmina’s performance: “She is the best in her class. A really bright girl”, Ms Salamatou says. But if Yasmina’s mother wasn’t a teacher at the same school herself, she would probably not have had the chance to learn here.
Integration leads to optimism
What does Yasmina want to become one day? There is no doubt for the girl: “A teacher”, she says and smilingly looks towards her mother. It will be a long way, but with the support of PRAHN she will make it.
Rehabilitation worker Sani Saley still visits Yasmina regularly to see her progress and to practise walking with her. Her mother is happy: “It’s a miracle for me that my daughter is learning how to walk. A few years ago I would never have dreamt of it. I’m so grateful for it. Yes, I thank all those people who made this possible and offered a whole new chance to my daughter and her life.”