At times, people are faced with daunting walls in life. Some choose to seek a path that takes them around the wall. Others may search for a way to go under the wall. Some others may attempt to locate a course taking them over the wall. And some people may reach the wall, become daunted and then turn back. However, few in number are the people who come to the wall and take it head ongoing through the wall and moving onwards to their goals.
This week our guest is Mr. Zeray Debasay, a model of success and modesty. Mr. Zeray is a judge at the appellate bench in the regional court of Adi Keih, as well as a part-time lecturer at the College of Arts and Social Sciences, teaching International Law and Constitutional Law.
Hi, hope you’re well. Thanks for allowing us this opportunity to chat with you. First, may you share a little about your background?
Hi. Thanks, the pleasure is all mine. I am from the suburbs of Adi Keih, from a small village called May Tsaeda, located to the west of Adi Keih. I was raised in a rural environment, and my family were farmers.
I had a nice early childhood; I was fond of playing with my friends, and also helping to look after the different animals. I greatly enjoyed the outdoors, and I especially loved swimming and cross-country running out in the hills.
However, things changed a little when I turned six years old. I developed blindness due to a natural illness.
What was that like?
Well, life became much more difficult. For a period, I was more isolated. I began to spend a lot of time alone and inside the home. As well, I was held back in school, which was a little tough.
What was the turning point?
A friend of my father’s alerted us to a school for the blind, located in Asmara, called Abraha Bahta School for the Blind. I transitioned to this school when I was ten; it was a big shift moving from the country to the city!
What was so significant about the move?
The school was tailored to supporting the blind. We had access to Braille, an important resource unavailable in other schools. As well, the move for me personally was important. I was participating more and involved within a variety of different activities and contests. I was quite successful, winning several awards. Overall, it was an important period and something that I really enjoyed.
After elementary, I moved on to junior high and high school. The Ministry of Education and Abraha Bahta school were very important, as well; they supported blind students with various resources and materials.
And you also went to Sawa?
Yes. That was a very nice experience. Beyond the important academic-related things I learned, I grew as a person. As well, I had the opportunity to interact and engage with diverse people from around the country, thus learning important socio-cultural lessons. Overall, it was a rewarding, rich experience.
I understand that after Sawa, you headed to Mai Niefi and CASS – what did you study?
I majored in law. I’ve always been very interested in and intrigued by law, and it was a goal that I had long had. Also, my father, although not formally trained or educated in law, he was a good litigant…I suppose that played an influential role.
So what’s your work at court like?
Busy! But it’s good, and I enjoy it. I find it rewarding since I love to help people. Our main focus and ultimate goal is justice; we try to promote justice and serve the people.
In addition, you lecture at CASS?
Yes. I also find this position interesting and rewarding. I love to teach. It’s wonderful to engage with the youth who are so enthusiastic and inquisitive. I am a firm believer in the adage that “when you teach others, you are teaching yourself…” You always have to be prepared…staying on your toes, ready to serve the students well and answer any questions that may arise.
On another point, one thing I’m very adamant about is the resources and materials available to those facing challenges. I think it’s important that these are increased and expanded. These materials are often difficult to obtain, due to a variety of reasons, but they are greatly helpful and beneficial. Specifically, I’m talking about a variety of assistive technology, such as computers with screen-readers and Braille displays, to name a few.
Regardless of the challenges and obstacles you’ve faced, you been so successful. What’s the secret?
There’s no secret, just a lot of hard work. Of course disability is a challenge, but it doesn’t have to preclude one from achieving things. I think that when any type of challenge confronts you, you must be ready and willing to face it head on. Be ready and willing to educate, train, and prepare yourself, then you can fully equalize yourself with others.
What are your future plans and ambitions?
With the opportunity, I’d like to further specialize in my profession. I want to broaden my horizons. I want to expand and improve my education, and continue to develop.
Zeray, it’s been an extreme pleasure chatting with you. You present an amazing example of hard work, success, and modesty. We wish you the best in all your endeavours!
*Mr. Zeray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org