by Sanjida Azad
Posted on August 27, 2023
When Simon was a toddler, an unexpected illness, a resulting disability, and stigma in his community left an indelible mark on his life. The intervention he received had lasting effects on his ability to walk, and he developed a pronounced limp and weakened hands. Despite the trials that followed, Simon’s family remained committed to improving his potential.
A Glimpse Into Simon’s Life
Simon grew up in a mud hut with a tin roof. His father, Benjamin, was a hardworking farmer and small-scale charcoal vendor, yet even his relentless efforts fell short of the financial requirements to provide Simon with an education tailored to his needs. On top of financial constraints, Simon faced the emotional burden of stigma within his community. Many attributed his disability to witchcraft or curses, leading to mistreatment and isolation.
Simon’s father, Benjamin, shared his struggles:
“The community makes me feel abandoned and sad. I even lost a job for the child’s wellbeing. I had to come home and take care of him because he was all alone. I lost friends too. I have mixed feelings about it. It helped me know my true friends.”
A Transformative Partnership
Life began to change when Simon and his family crossed paths with Kupenda for the Children. Kupenda’s mission of empowerment and inclusion resonated deeply, offering a lifeline to Simon’s aspirations.
One of the most significant shifts was Simon’s enrollment in a local special school, a tailored educational environment that catered to his unique needs. This marked the beginning of a transformation that would extend far beyond the classroom. Through a traditional healer trained as a disability advocate by Kupenda, Simon’s family received consistent counseling and support.
Reaching New Heights
Today, Simon’s challenges, once perceived as insurmountable, have been transformed into stepping stones toward growth.
In Simon’s own words,
“Now I came out and I am confident due to mingling with others who are like me. … Now I have many friends because I learnt we live as a community and no man is an island.”
Simon’s transformation also ignited dreams for the future. He aspires to become a public health officer, driven by a desire to give back to his community and contribute to its well-being.
Simon’s journey encapsulates the essence of transformation, reminding us that empowerment, community, and self-belief can pave the way for incredible accomplishments.
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