The inspiring story of an aspiring student named Ali, the brilliant blind who was school dropout!
Every month we get to do one or two success stories. These stories always reflect success achieved with our students and even in our work as an NGO. We get attached to every story, and we feel prouder day by day when realizing the tremendous effect we have on our beloved students. Nevertheless, some stories shine more than others. Not because NABAD’s staff work differently in their cases, because they don’t. They treat each case as delicately as the other. But sometimes, the improvement process with this student, with the aid of our education team, is just so astounding and inspiring. These types of stories have left a mark on each of us in NABAD for a long time. They’re the kind of stories that genuinely ‘keep our motors running to the max!’
Our story this month is about Ali. He’s a BLN student with NABAD, but he’s not just any student. Unfortunately, Ali, and two of his siblings, were born blind. Only one sister, Sedra, was fortunate among them to be born with sight. It’s not enough what the results of the war in Syria have had on Syrian refugees. Still, there are cases like these where physical disabilities increase the burden on the family. Ali suffered from the disadvantages of being blind throughout his life, especially the harsh bullying inflicted by his peers on him. It is hard for him to adapt to such circumstances, but the unfortunate perspective other people have on people with disabilities destroys them even more.
Ali previously enrolled in a specific school for blind children and wished to pursue his education there. However, due to the ongoing bullying from friends and peers along the way to school, Ali just gave up on the idea of school, never went anymore, and never wanted to be humiliated again. He felt worthless and even un-deserving of education! So he decided that studying wasn’t for him.
In an attempt to encourage him to get back to studying, his parents registered him and his sister Sedra in our organization. During the first cycle, Ali was nowhere to be found! He didn’t participate at all, despite his teacher’s constant efforts to get him to learn and cooperate. The teacher wasn’t aware of the problem, but later she knew the psychological harm that bullying had done to Ali’s will of continuing education. When she found out, the teacher was relentless. She wasn’t going to let a disability prevent an innocent and brilliant child like that from getting the education that he deserves. So, with the teacher’s sustained attempts privately and ongoing care and motivation, she was able, with the help of his sister Sedra, to break that ‘wall’ that Ali had put up for himself.
It was a combination of the efforts put by Ali’s teacher and the NABAD education team, and his sister Sedra at home, that led to the tremendous change that occurred with Ali during this cycle. Not only was his teacher guiding him and his sister daily and privately, but the education team also paid him visits a couple of times. Those visits were significant and helpful because of the support and motivation aimed to be transmitted to Ali every time. He felt the support all around him, and he knew that he wasn’t alone in this challenge. On the other hand, Ali’s teacher also put all of her time and effort into helping him. His sister translates the lessons into material that Ali can understand, using audio and tactile activities.
Every time the teacher would send videos and instructions about a particular lesson, she would contact Ali and Sedra privately. The teacher aimed at instructing Sedra first to translate every lesson and activity, as much as she could, to her blind brother. That was done by using lots of available house materials like Play-do, sticks, playdough, and even fruits! The teacher would first explain everything and make it straightforward for Sedra. Sedra, who, having perfect eye-sight, would understand the lesson and the task required, solve it, send it to the teacher to get it corrected, and then start on making or expressing it in certain materials for her blind brother. With continuous coordination and supervision from the teacher, Ali understood the required lessons and activities and even solved them himself through the above materials. By the time, Ali was participating with great joy in everything delivered by the teacher.
Ali’s mother tried to help, but she was illiterate. So the entire work was done by Ali, his sister, and his teacher. It was something remarkable that they were able to accomplish together. The improvement that Ali showed in this cycle shocked us all. He fell in love with learning, and his motivation, ambition, and persistence sky-rocketed, along with our pride and exhilaration! Ali even reached a stage where he confessed to the teacher herself his newly developed dream of becoming a teacher. Not just any teacher. He wanted to be the one who helps others like him, who are blind, into reaching their full abilities and capabilities. He didn’t want others to suffer as he did before and feel like they were not worthy of educating themselves and achieving their ambitions. He tried to extend and project the ‘chance,’ ‘love,’ ‘support,’ and most importantly, ‘self-belief’ that NABAD gave him to others who need it as well.
This inspiring story of Ali shows us just how much psychological support plays a role in students’ lives. It’s not solely a teacher’s job to educate and transmit information. That’s not the goal of education in the end. It’s to touch lives and change them for the better. It’s to find hope in times when students themselves can’t seem to find it. It’s to search for opportunity in places where only self-doubt is conquering.
Most importantly, it allows students to become in charge of their education and be self-dependent learners. All of which occurred with Ali and other exceptional students. Success stories like these and outstanding, dedicated educationalists like these indeed show you that education is in safe hands!