Gerense’e Abraha lost his eyes during the struggle for Eritrean independence. He is married and with children. Gerense’e was not deterred from pursuing success in life due to disability. Currently he is learning at the Warsai-Yikealo Sawa with his two children. We think his story would be a good motivation for others who drop their dream because of some mishaps in life.
Could you tell us your background?
I came from Areza sub-zone, Southern region. I was born in 1965 from a farming family. In 1982 I joined the armed struggle for independence. While on duty I lost my eyes in 1985 at the battle to liberate Barentu. I spent through out the years under the support of the EPLF until independence. I realized that sitting idle and expect support from the Government would not help me forever and in fact I believe it is harmful for a disabled and I made believe myself that I have to do something to earn a profession and lead my life. So I decided to continue my education. And in 2003 I started learning in grade six at the Areza Junior High School. There I finished grade eleven and I am here in Sawa to continue my grade twelve education.
How were you doing in School? How were you coping with all the difficulties you have?
From the day one I decided to continue my education there were challenges. The first challenge was from people were telling me that I am over aged and need no education. They were advising me to stay home and do something that benefits the society in my village. My family, including my parents, was in the same position; they could not accept my decision to go to school. I know I have done my share in society. But I was not convinced to live supported by the Government indefinitely, I wanted to do something, and deep in my heart I was convinced that I will reach some where if I pursue my education.
You are in Sawa now. How did you find Sawa and what do you advice those with the same situation as you are?
My two children are here with me learning. I expect them to do better by taking example of their father who is learning in Sawa at this age. I am their motivator. They would say “Our father is learning at this age why not we do better.” I also expect others, including the youth who are already here getting serious on their study and use their young age to their benefit. I, learning at this age and with disability, pursuing education for a higher level should motivate the youth to do better.
How do your children treat you here in Sawa?
They call me father. And I tell them you are not only my kids; you are students like me and we should treat each other as equals, students of Warsai-Yikealo Sawa. Until we finish school there is no such thing as father and son/daughter. We are equal here. I also tell them that as students we could inquire each other regarding the subjects we are learning. I tell them we consult each other if there is any thing we don’t understand in our classes.
What problems do you encounter here?
No problem. If at all there comes any problem, as a fighter I have passed through different challenges and I don’t expect any problem to deter me from my vision. So far no problem, in fact I found Sawa more than I expected it to be. I am getting full cooperation from students, teachers and from the staff. I am very much satisfied and content of being here in Sawa. It is giving me energy and motivation to work hard to realize my dream.
How are your families back home? Do you have other children?
Yes, I have kids. They are staying with their mother.
Do you have suggestion of what should be done here for disabled like you so that they would not have any problem to smoothly follow up their study? Any shortages you think should be mended?
I think the Government has put in place the necessary facility for the disabled. A person with sight problem needs tape recorders and cassettes. And I have it. It is my conviction that a disabled person could learn equally with others if he/she have the necessary facility. I am also looking forward for more cooperation from the institution.
What are we to expect from you?
I am a student and I expect what any other student expects to become in life. I am working hard to become successful. God willing I will come out successful.