“Now I write with my foot. No one else I know can do this.”
14-year-old Ehsan’s drive for learning perseveres despite the loss of his arms
On 31 May, 14-year-old Ehsan took his first year-end assessment test in the Rohingya refugee camps. Unlike his other classmates, Ehsan wrote out the entire test using a pen with his right foot instead of his hand.
A year ago, Ehsan lost his arms in a tragic accident. While playing football with his friends one evening, a live wire fell on them, electrocuting Ehsan and two of his friends. Ehsan and one friend survived, while the other did not. Ehsan lost both his arms in the effort to save his life.
Ehsan was paralyzed for two months after his surgery. He could not walk or even sit up on his own. He feared this accident might be the end of his dreams. Ehsan always wanted to complete his education.
“When I was living in Myanmar, I was in school until grade 2,” shares Ehsan. “I could not go to school after that. Soon after we had to leave our home and come to Bangladesh.”
Almost six years ago, Ehsan and his family fled violence and persecution in their home country of Myanmar. They have been living in the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh ever since.
A passion for learning
In the camps, Ehsan did everything he could to continue learning. He enrolled himself with a private tutor and in a madrasa. When UNICEF rolled out the Myanmar curriculum last year, Ehsan enrolled himself in a learning centre as well.
“I was excited to start class in the new curriculum as it is what we studied back home,” he says. “In a way it felt like being back home. I felt like I could keep learning my best here.”
After the accident, those hopes were nearly dashed entirely. But with care and attention from his family and service providers in the camps, he began to recover. A physiotherapist from one of UNICEF’s implementing partners, Humanity & Inclusion (HI), visited Ehsan every day to provide therapy for his legs. In time, Ehsan regained his ability to walk.
Back to school
“As soon as I started walking again, I knew I wanted to go back to my learning centre,” says Ehsan. “My teacher came to see me and helped me walk to the learning centre. He even helped me learn how to write with my foot. It was slow and painful, and sometimes embarrassing. But now I write with my foot. No one else I know can do this.”
Ehsan’s dream began to feel within reach again. Even his father was overjoyed.
“I was heartbroken when my boy lost his arms,” says Kamal, Ehsan’s father. “I always had big dreams for him. My boy was always very smart, even as a small child. I am grateful for all the help to my family so Ehsan could recover.”
Now in grade 6, soon to graduate to grade 7, Ehsan is one of the brightest learners in his class. As UNICEF and partners on the ground prepare for a new academic year, supporting the education of more than 1,500 children living with disabilities in the Rohingya refugee camps remains a key objective.