Jado fights for his sons to be respected

Jado's son Massa ties his goat to a tree.

Jado lives with his family in the small village of Urugero, in the eastern province of Rwanda. He has six children. Two of them are blind. None of the sons have been allowed to go to the village school because the teachers have not considered it relevant that they should receive an education.

- When my son Massa was born, our neighbors thought that my family had been cursed and the other children in the village did not want to play with my two visually impaired sons, Jado says.

When his son Massa was not welcome in the village school, Jado started looking for another school for his son. Eventually, he learned about a fitness center for the visually impaired, near the capital, Kigali.

Massa learned that he has a lot to contribute

Massa was ten years old when he had to start a six-month training at the Masaka Resource Center for the Blind. The center is the only one of its kind. It is run by the Rwanda Union of the Blind with support from the Swedish Association of the Visually Impaired and MyRight.

Massa learned to read Braille and to orientate himself with a cane in order to be able to move forward independently.

- But the most important thing was probably that he learned that he is a person with the same rights as everyone else and that he has a lot to contribute, says Jado.

When Massa returned home to the village, he started an association for people with visual impairments. Today, the association runs its own small farm. Massa, who is now twenty years old, has a goat, works in agriculture and helps with the housework at home. 

Jados son Massa.

Lack of knowledge and aids leads to isolation

In Rwanda, visually impaired people are often stigmatized by their surroundings. Many people believe that there are connections to evil spirits and that a curse rests on the family when a child with a visual impairment or other disability is born. There is often a lack of knowledge and because aids are expensive, most visually impaired people can never learn to use the white cane. This means that most people remain at home without the opportunity to go to school or participate in society.

When it was time for Jado's youngest son Gad to start school, Jado received the same answer as before, that the village school does not teach children with visual impairment. The teacher told Jado to take his son home again.

Dad's fight has paid off

But Jado did not give up. He had seen how Massa had developed at the gym and was determined to find a school for Gad. He was told that there was a school for visually impaired children in Kibeho, 450 km from their village. When Gad was ten years old, he had to start first grade. Jado is happy that Gad can go to school, but sad that he can not afford to visit him.

- I want to help my two sons to build their own houses and to give them the opportunity to support themselves and their families. But what I want most of all is that they should be respected as full-fledged people, says Jado.

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