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Rwanda, 27 September 2017: Inspired by Itetero, Damascene enrols in primary school, undeterred by his visual impairment

© UNICEF Rwanda/2017/Houser
Damascene demonstrates the tactile materials he uses to learn the Braille alphabet.

By Veronica Houser

Rwamagana District, 27 September 2017 – In November 2015, during an Urunana community theatre event in Gicumbi District, UNICEF staff met Damascene, a then-12-year-old boy with a visual impairment. Damascene had never attended school because his parents believed his vision would make it impossible. However, Damascene demonstrated his enthusiasm for learning through his love of radio; one of the most avid listeners of Itetero”, a children’s radio programme supported by UNICEF, Damascene knew his colours, numbers, and multiple letters of the alphabet, even with no formal education. “Kwiga birashimisha; learning is fun,” he would say.

Inspired by Itetero, Damascene enrolled in his first year of primary school in February 2016. In January 2017, he began his first year at a specialised boarding school in Rwamagana District for children with visual impairments. At the end of his first and second terms, Damascene was first in his class, to not only his own delight but also that of his mother. “Because of his impairment, I never imagined that Damascene could study like other children,” she said, “but I am so happy to see how successful he has been.”

Surrounded by friends, Damascene will demonstrate proudly how he can write in Braille, a tactile writing system for people with visual impairments. Damascene has even begun to learn English, and can spell words and phrases such as, “book”, “my name is Damascene”, and even, “I love you.”

© UNICEF Rwanda/2017/Houser
Damascene uses a specialized machine to write in Braille.

Damascene is an eager and passionate student. It’s hard to not share the joy in his infectious smile. He never tires of talking about his classes and all the things he has learnt. “I’m happy,” said Damascene. “I am studying well and succeeding. And when I finish school, I want to be a teacher, too.”

You can read about Damascene’s back story here

About Itetero
The Itetero radio programme is made up of child-friendly segments, including animal and family dramas, children’s voices and play time, story-telling, numbers and letters of the day, parenting advice, and expert interviews. Catch Itetero every Tuesday evening at 5:30 p.m. on Radio Rwanda.



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