My blessings in disguise
A chance accident could easily have ended 12-year-old Abhidulla’s life. Instead, this tough shepherd survived, and four years later, he’s pursuing the education he always dreamed of. He has found his place in a school supported by TEAR’s partner in Pakistan, the Primary Education Project. Here, Abhidulla shares his story of the opportunity that came with the pain.
"I was the shepherd of our livestock and one day as I was tending my sheep in the fields, I didn't notice a broken electricity wire until one of my sheep got hurt from it. My sheep fell down and cried out. And, as soon as I got near my sheep, I tried to hold it from the ear to help it stand. But as I touched the sheep, the current flowed into me. I was thrown away by the current, injuring myself completely. This accident could have killed me, but it was a miracle, and a curse, that I survived.
When I opened my eyes, I tried to move, but failed. I wasn't able to move my body because of pain. Another shepherd saw me and called for help, and in a little while I was rushed to the hospital by my parents where I was taken in to emergency. A few hours later the doctor told my parents that I had become disabled from my tongue, legs, and backbone.
Having a disability in my childhood did bring a lot of hard times for me. I was 12 years old when this happened, but that did not take away my playfulness. When other children my age or older made fun of me, I felt ashamed. I was called by different names and as I grew, even people started calling me names. I had lost all interest in going out, be it to the city, wedding, fair or meeting relatives. When I couldn't help my family anymore in the fields or by shepherding, they thought of me as useless and I was left all alone. At this time I became a 16 year old teenager.
"When I heard from one of our villagers that there is a school for children with a disability, I was surprised. How can there be a school for someone like me? I had never been to a school before. But, something sparked in me. I wanted to hear more about this school."
When I heard from one of our villagers that there is a school for children with a disability, I was surprised. How can there be a school for someone like me? I had never been to a school before. But, something sparked in me. I wanted to hear more about this school. One of the elders of our village came to talk with my parents and tried hard to motivate them to send me to school. They said that the PEP team came to our village and did a meeting about helping children with a disability and motivated them to enrol the children in school. While my parents were still thinking about the opportunity I noticed a change in the community's behaviour. They were becoming positive because they started calling me by my real name. And after a month, I was enrolled in a PEP school.
When I started going to school, I was again teased by the students in class, but what encouraged me was the way our teacher took a stand for me and through counselling motivated me to keep coming to school. Now that I come daily to school, the children have become used to seeing me, and some of them are even my friends.
What do I want to do with my life? I want to complete my education at PEP school, until then I will be able to read and write. After that I have plans to start my personal shop through my savings that I learned about in the 5th core element of Aflatoun (curriculum) Social and Financial Enterprise.
I wonder, if I didn't have a disability, maybe I'd never go to a school and always be a shepherd. My disability, no matter how painful, did teach me some valuable lessons. And I am thankful to PEP, who considered our need for help. I never felt the kind of respect that I can feel now, and the hope that I can do something has made me believe that I am valuable. What I am learning today through a PEP school are surely my blessings in disguise.”
About Our Partner: The Church of Pakistan, Diocese of Hyderabad, runs the Primary Education Project which currently has 85 community-established and managed schools, educating around 5000 students in rural Sindh. These schools are transforming the lives of rural communities through sustainable, quality education, especially for girls, without discrimination, helping such communities to rise out of their marginalized state, and enabling them to have an educated, respectable and profitable future.
Dominique Emery is a Communications Content Creator for TEAR Australia.
This project has received funding from the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), responsible for Australia's overseas aid program.