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Back to School

Trading the pain of disability for the promise of an education

Story by CURE International August 13th, 2015

You don’t wait at the end of your driveway for a school bus in Ethiopia or Malawi.

Your mom doesn’t drop you off on her way to work.

You walk.

The kids we serve, kids with physical disabilities like clubfoot, knock knees, and bowed legs, have a dilemma, because if you can’t walk, you don’t go to school.

If you don’t go to school, you can’t get an education.

Without an education, you’re stuck at home. Alone.

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Without the physical ability or the educational resources to work, your employment options are often reduced to one, singular option:

You beg.

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We want more for kids than a future filled with begging.

We want them to go back to school.

Andualem

Andualem was born with severe disabilities. His legs were twisted so badly that he’d never been able to walk. In an effort to give her son a better life, his mother, Worke, carried Andualem to school every day.

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The action was met with disapproval from his own father.

“Why are you sacrificing yourself for a disabled boy?” he chided. “He is good for nothing.”
Andualem and his mother, Worke

Andualem excelled at his schoolwork, becoming one of the top students in his class. Worke continued to carry him to school every day. That was life: carried to school, carried home, repeated again the next day.

Until one day when a truck driver saw Worke and Andualem on their way to school, took pictures, and brought the photos to a local disability rehabilitation center to see what could be done. There, he learned about the CURE hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

But there was a problem. Andualem’s family didn’t have any money for a bus ticket to Addis Ababa, nearly 800 kilometers away from their village.

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Andualem’s school was moved to sacrifice for the mother and son who sacrificed so much just to get there and home every day. Within a few weeks, everyone had contributed enough money to purchase a bus ticket for two to Addis Ababa.

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Now, after successful surgery at CURE Ethiopia, Andualem is walking for the first time in his life.

Instead of being carried to school, he walks to school. He’s still an excellent student, but now, a world of possibilities are open to him.

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charity

Education is all Linda wants for her children, including her daughter, Charity. As the chief of her village in Malawi, she has to make a lot of hard decisions, but one of the easiest decisions she’s ever had to make is what she wants for her children. Rather than wanting her kids to follow in her footsteps as chief, she wants them to be educated.

Charity's mother, Linda

Linda’s daughter, Charity, loved going to school. She also loved people. Even from a young age, she noticed that people with disabilities weren’t treated well, so she decided she wanted to become a doctor someday and help them. She had no idea the role disability would play in her own life.

Charity would ultimately watch her brother die because of a disability. Then, soon after, she began to develop knock knees. Her condition made the walk to school excruciating. Some days, the pain of the journey was just too much.

The joy of becoming a doctor was replaced by the pain of disability.

Knock knees are a common disability in Africa

Today, after hearing about CURE Malawi and receiving treatment for knock knees, Charity can walk to school again.

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She still wants to be a doctor.

She still wants to help kids with disabilities.

And now, she can.

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daniel

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Daniel is an only child. His mother, Edness, had prayed fervently for a son, and when Daniel was born, she was so excited. The first year of his life was pure joy. He was a happy, healthy baby. But after he turned a year old, one of his legs started to bow.

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Edness was surprised, but not saddened. She knew Daniel was the child she had prayed for. She accepted the fact that she had a child who might need surgery and went straight to CURE to see if his disability could be corrected. She went to CURE because her parents, who are both nurses, recommended CURE as the best place to take Daniel.

The doctors at CURE Malawi told Edness that Daniel’s disability could be corrected through surgery, but he was still too young. She was told to bring him back every six months to evaluate whether or not he was ready for surgery, and she did, faithfully.

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After three years of waiting, Daniel was old enough and healthy enough to have surgery. He had a very quick recovery and is now running and playing like any other child his age. He loves going to school and wants to be a lawyer someday.

Daniel with his teacher
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This is only the beginning.

Hundreds of kids just like Charity, Andualem, and Daniel will go back to school this year after receiving treatment at CURE hospitals and programs around the world, and you get to be part of making that happen. Visit cure.org/curekids to meet children who are in our hospitals right now and learn how you can help.



Footnote: Photos by Bryce Alan Flurie. Written by Bryce Alan Flurie and Beka Watts.