My Name is Wasihun Munaye. I was born in 1994, and at the age of two I lost my sight due to measles. In 2001 I moved to a place called Bako boarding school and joined a group of visually impaired students. I studied there from kindergarten up to eight grade. I learned a lot from my classmates. My school experiences changed me a lot, taught me how life would be, and helped me gain self-confidence. It also helped me to learn braille and follow up in my learning process. In my class there were students who were able to see, and they used to read for us what was written in the blackboard. When I was on eight grade, I got 99.54 in national examination and was awarded by the regional education bureau.
Challenges and Success
In order to continue to ninth grade, I moved to Addis Ababa and started to live with my aunt. After some time, my aunt passed away, and it was hard for me to further my studies because I had no family. I had never lived alone, but after the death of my aunt I was forced to live alone. I got 300 birrs fund from Sebeta school for visually impaired, but the money was not enough to pay for accommodation, so I had to work on the weekends selling lottery tickets and household items. On tenth grade I got A’s in six subjects on the national examinations, and graduated with Great Distinction. In the preparation school I got 430 out of 600 and enrolled at Dilla University.
Challenges Faced at Dilla University
My dream came true when I started studying on the department of law at Dilla University. I thought that the Dilla university would be accessible for visually impaired students, but it was not as I excepted. I faced many challenges on the campus, as the campus was not accessible for me. I had long negotiations with the university staff so I could be transferred to another campus which was more suitable for me. While I am in Dilla University I am playing vital role to change the challenges students with different disabilities face.
One of the main challenges at Dilla University I faced was that moving easily from one place to another was difficult. The physical environment of the office, cafe and library were not convenient for me, which made my participation in university’s social life difficult. I felt like the atmosphere at the university community including the top officials wasn’t encouraging. They thought that students with disabilities couldn’t study at the university. When I needed to travel, there were some people who would help on voluntary basis, but there were problems with costs related to helping me.
The work of EMPOWER (SYL)
The work of EMPOWER (SYL) project is a good beginning for Dilla University. As a focal person for ECDD I was making follow ups on regular basis. The training given by ECDD for students with disabilities, non- disabled students and university community was very important. After the awareness training some of the officials are showing a good intention to support students with different disabilities which is a good sign. I have seen some change after the EMPOWER joined the University.
I will graduate this year from Dilla University, and my future goals is to work for human rights and stand for the ones who are abused and forgotten. I want to show the society that being visually impaired does not prevent me from doing anything, that my disabilities don’t define my abilities.