My name is Mary. I am 13 years old. I have a disability.

Polio affected one of my feet, the right. I now use crutches and a PET (personal energy transport) to move around. This disability limits my movement. I fall down very often. I cannot run and play with my friends as I would want to. It makes me different from others.

I came from Port Loko District but now live with WESOFOD (Children in Crisis' partner in Sierra Leone).

My mother abandoned me. I wish she would come around one day and see how I have grown up. 

Mary on her PET

School is hope for me

I like school very much. I always come first in class. I like all the subjects except Maths. I like school because it is there that I meet my friends. Every year I make new friends. They enjoy pushing me around on my PET. They enjoy the pushing and I enjoy the ride. 

Mary and her friends on their way back to their home after school. They live in a home for abandoned disabled children, run by our local partner organisation WESOFOD
"School is hope for me"

The things I do not like about school

Sometimes I am provoked. Children call me names like ‘Mary polio’. Before WESOFOD made the ramps and (disabled access) toilet in our school, it was a problem getting into my class. For the toilet, it was not possible. Either I used the toilet at home, or go to a nearby bush.

Another thing I do not like about school is that the teachers do not allow us to take part in school activities like games and sport or cleaning. They never try us. They make us lazy. This makes others feel we are different.

Thokola lives at the same WESOFOD home as Mary. This is him warming up for a football match between people with disabilities, organised by WESOFOD. Local community members are encouraged to attend

I lived at the old home run by WESOFOD

There is a caregiver that looks after us. We were too many in the room, we shared everything. Food, and even the beds. There were just three bedrooms in this home, one for girls, one for boys and one for the caregiver.

Mary's old home

The new RRC

This is going to be the best home for us. Look at where we were living. Every morning I had to fetch water, we waited turns to use the toilet, the place was cold, there wasn’t not enough space to play. I like everything about the RRC, the study room, the physio services, dining room, running water, a toilet right in my room, a bed of my own…all of these things really make me happy.

 

Mary and her WESOFOD family outside their new home. They’re about to head off to school

Ebola affected me so much

I lost a whole year of school. It brought lots of fear in me. Others are also afraid of me. I do not get the support and friendship I used to get. Even in school we are not allowed to play as we used to. We live close to the Treatment Centre. Every day people were brought in and taken out for burial. It is sad to see people die like that

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Blog post
Some said Minister for Education, some said Minister for Disabilities, several said President, and many said that they wanted to grow up to be just like Mr Kamara.
Project
A home and treatment centre for abandoned disabled children.
Project
So that no classroom is out of reach.