Dreaming of a Sudan where people with special needs can fulfill their dreams

Dreaming of inclusion, rights and access to services.

Hadeel Agab Ashi
Photo of Enas posing to the camera
15 July 2020

Note to editors: This story was originally written in 2019, Pre-COVID19.

High rates of unemployment and lack of opportunities for education and training are among the most prominent issues facing societies around the world, especially the youth.

Investing in youth education and skills training is essential to ensure youth are not vulnerable to discrimination and deprivation, instead they can become contributors to the progress of their communities.

The population of Sudan is 41 million which includes 20.5 million children under the age of 18 and 6.5 million are children under the age of five. There are 3.6 million children who are out of school in Sudan. Many of them feel that they are not learning the skills they need; studies show that when children are not in school they are more vulnerable to violence and neglect.

Picture of young boy
Muhammad Majdhoub Ahmad, 19, lives in Port Sudan, Red Sea State.

We face huge difficulties in communicating with the others and with understanding them, which makes it difficult for us to find jobs or training opportunities.

Muhammad Majdhoub Ahmad, 19

Dreaming of a world with equal access

Muhammad Majdhoub Ahmad, 19-years-old, is deaf, and lives in Port Sudan, which is in the Red Sea state, in eastern Sudan.

Muhammad is one of five brothers, among whom three are deaf. Muhammad's friends are Enas and Ahmad, who also live in Port Sudan. In 2019 Muhammad and his friends decided to participate in the Generation Unlimited challenge, supported by UNICEF.

The Generation Unlimited initiative supports young people and adolescents to access quality education, training or job opportunities by 2030. One of the key objectives is to address the global crisis of education and lack of training that prevents millions of adolescents and youth from obtaining the opportunity for progress and stability.

"We participated in the competition in order to make our voices heard, and to show everyone that our disability will not prevent us from engaging in our society. Our project is aimed at creating cultural centers that can teach sign language that covers social, cultural, medical and educational fields, which would help spread sign language for the deaf and non-deaf people alike. And by doing this, to ensure those who are deaf will not be marginalized and are able to obtain all their rights as to engagement, education and work opportunities,” said Muhammad.

Photo of Enas posing to the camera
Enas Youssef, lives in Port Sudan.

Our real handicap is the lack of communication with the world around us.

Enas Youssef, 19

Enas Youssef is deaf, as are two of her brothers.

"One of the difficulties that we faced while working in the implementation of this project was that the information, we got was not sufficient. We need to get support for those who are deaf, and to provide them with appropriate educational curricula, because most of those who are deaf leave school due to the inadequacy of the curricula, and sometimes due to the economic situation," said Enas.

By participating in the Generation Unlimited challenge, Enas and her friends; Muhammad and Ahmad, succeeded in drawing attention to the issue of deafness, and they were nominated among the top 10 teams, and although they did not win, they managed to reach the final stages. They have not given up, and are still determined to realize their dreams one day.

Ahmad Muhammad Abu Bakr posing for a photo
Ahmad Muhammad Abu Bakr lives in Port Sudan.

We feel sad to see that the deaf community still suffers from the lack of basic possibilities and rights, and we feel extremely happy when anyone with special needs is able to achieve success.

Ahmad Muhammad Abu Bakr, 19
Ahmad, Enas and Youssef posing
Enas, Muhammad and Ahmad express their optimism that their future will be brighter.

Support, equality, and a future

Many children, youth and adults with special needs in Sudan feel marginalized and say that they have no voice. However, Enas, Muhammad and Ahmad did not let that deter them from pursuing their dreams.  

"Our vision for the future is to establish centers that teach sign language, all over Sudan.

Our message to the government is: Rehabilitation for people who are deaf; ensuring they have access to their rights and are able to access information.

Our Mission with UNICEF: Supporting Deaf Projects and Assigning Programs for people with hearing loss.

Our message to the community: Learn sign language so that we can communicate with you and be released from this isolation.

Our message to our brothers and sisters who living with special needs: Never give up and proceed to fulfill your ambitions and show your abilities."

Students posing with Hadeel
Enas, Ahmad and Muhammad raise their hands with the slogan of "support .. equality ... future”, with Hadeel Agab from UNICEF Sudan.

Enas and Ahmad finished their high school exams last year. After they had succeeded in the final exams, Enas joined the University of Sudan, Department of Fine Arts, and Ahmad was admitted to the Red Sea University, while Muhammad will take his high school exam this year.

Among the activities that have been implemented are training a wide segment of the society in Port Sudan on sign language as one of the main objectives of the project. Educational activities about the rights of people with special needs have also been implemented in the school, with the support of the Youth Forum Organization. In addition, Enas, Mohamed, Ahmad and others were trained in photography and documentation skills.

Like millions of other young people who were affected by the spread of Covid-19, Muhammad, Enas and Ahmad have also faced many difficulties during this period, especially with regard to educational activities that mainly depend on spreading awareness in schools and other educational centers.

As part of the 2030 youth strategy, the Generation Unlimited initiative was launched last year to help address the severe shortage of quality education, skills training and job opportunities for young people. Generation Unlimited brings together a wide range of partners - governments, the private sector, academic institutions, international organizations and civil society organizations. Above all, the young people themselves, in order to collaborate in finding and financing innovative solutions that aim to provide more opportunities for the world's youth.