Surviving a bus accident with her calves missing, Zewdi Oqubayes, a teacher, overcame the challenges caused by the accident and made a courageous decision to keep on pursuing her dream of teaching. Here is a translated version of her brief chat she conducted with the Agezo magazine:
Please, introduce yourself to our readers?
Alright, my name is Zewdi Oqubayes. I was born in 1982. My family was big; I was the sixths child among ten siblings. So, with so many siblings, I had so much fun as a child playing and running all the time. When the time for me to go to school came, my parents were worried that I might hate it. But, actually, I was so excited about going to school and loved my teachers so much. I learned elementary school at my hometown, Eilabered, and then went to Adikeih to attend middle school and finished secondary school at my hometown. As all Eritreans do, I went to Sawa where I sat for my matriculation exam. Based on my grades, I joined the teachers training institute and graduated in 2001. In my early twenties I got my first job as a teacher at Bishuka, a village in Gash Barka region.
How was the process of teaching? Was the reality as you expected it?
When I was training to be a teacher, the courses were so captivating that I couldn’t wait for the days to be in class with students. Also the people of Bishuka welcomed me and the other teachers so warmly, leading me to love my job even more. After being there for three years I was assigned to a village called Mekerka; unfortunately, I could not make it because of an accident.
What kind of an accident?
After I was told about my reassignment I packed everything I had and started my journey to Mekerka by bus. After travelling for some kilometers, the bus started to twirl and everything began to look blurred. Right then I blacked out. When I gained consciousness the doctors told me that I had been in a coma for three days. I underwent different surgeries but my calves could not be saved, leaving me permanently disabled.
How did you cope with the challenges after the accident?
When I was in hospital most of the visitors, including my family members, constantly refreshed and raised my inner strength. I really felt at ease and did not make a big deal about my situation. However, when I was released from the hospital and got home reality started to hit me. I fell into a long depression and anxiety over the fact that my mother, Negisti, who put so much effort into raising me, was still taking care of me in her old age. I was weak physically and mentally and so could not go back to work. After going back and forth in that mood for over a year, my relentless mind decided to end the misery and start over. I contacted the prosthetic leg manufacturing company in Keren and started practicing to walk in them. Then I decided to master the art of walking in prosthetic leg to be able to get back to my job. Afraid that I might get hurt again my parents were firmly against my decision. But through a lot of talking and convincing they agreed. So, in 2007, I went to the last region where I was working as a teacher and informed the authorities I was ready to start working. They accepted my application and I was assigned to work at Selam Elementary School in keren.
How about your private life?
After the accident and becoming disabled, the idea of love, marriage and kids vanished from my mind. I solely focused on work, improving myself and helping out my parents.
Now that I am a mother of four I admire my mother, Negisti, for working hard to raise us.