“Because of one mal-function or another, some people feel we are incapacitated and vulnerable because we cannot fight for ourselves,” Zama Walters groaned.
Zama Walters is a 27 years old student living with visual impairment. Zama’s life has always been that of one battle to another. He either had to deal with the myopic perceptions of people around him or the stumbling blocks placed before him by nature. Despite these challenges, the young lad has remained very optimistic about life and sees educational empowerment, as the birth canal of his breakthrough. “When the going gets tough, only the tough get going,” Zama explains that this statement is a true reflection of his academic journey.
In 2018, Zama sat in for the Cameroon Advanced Level General Certificate of Education (GCE). Having put in his best in the preparation of the exams, his ability to tackle the questions in the examination hall had made him feel he will make it. “I actually gave in my best shot. I took the time to develop my points and read through my scripts before submitting them. I knew I will make it.” Unfortunately, when the results came out, Zama’s name was nowhere to be found. He had failed.
Convinced that he deserved something different, Zama together with another friend, Blaise, who felt deserved a pass too, decided to visit the GCE Board to understand exactly what happened. Knowing what the Socio-Economic Empowerment of Persons with Disability (SEEPD) program has been doing for persons living with a disability, the duo visited its office to get some financial assistance before boarding a bus to the GCE Board Head Quarters in Buea, in the Southwest Region of Cameroon where they requested to see their scripts. To their greatest delight, Walter passed in three subjects and Blaise in two papers.
The duo did not end there but proceeded to enroll in the University of Bamenda in the Northwest Region with a curriculum and structures that are not yet adapted for persons with visual impairments.
“My first days on the campus were so challenging. The noise in the large Amphitheatres made it difficult for me to pay attention and I could not make use of the handouts given to us. It was really frustrating,” Zama recounted. They could only rely on some few classmates who helped them to read the handout after lectures for them to grasp a few ideas. But unfortunately, this source of help could not be constant because the friends were not always available. This made learning extremely difficult for them though they wanted to learn at all costs.
Coming to their rescue was the CBC Health Services’ Empowerment Disability Inclusive Development (EDID) program that offered each of them a brand new laptop, with all its accessories (earpiece, laptop bag) and a software program, which enabled them to get the sound of their machines and explore the world around them. “Words can’t express my gratitude. This gadget has really made learning easy for me. I can research and learn along with my peers now,” Walters’ face brightens up as he expressed these words of gratitude with lots of emotions.
While youths like Walters and Blaise continue to aspire for higher heights, the CBC Health Services through the EDID and SEEPD programs in partnership with the Liliane Foundation and CBM Australian Aids are living no stone unturned in bridging gaps by giving wings to vulnerable children to fly with through different forms of empowerment.