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By Ben Cohen | 18 Oct 2016

Meet 13 year-old Abdul from Afghanistan. He's bright and hardworking. He is also deaf – that can mean no education and no future...

Abdul is 13 years old and loves school. His teachers say he is very bright, disciplined and hardworking. He is also deaf.

In the UK, a deaf child can expect the teaching and attention he needs to be a successful student. Living in Afghanistan, it’s not something Abdul’s parents could take for granted...

When Abdul was three months old, he fell very ill with a high fever. His family lived in a small community, a village in rural Afghanistan. They couldn’t find treatment for their son. Their son eventually recovered, however the illness left Abdul deaf in both ears.

Abdul’s parents were devastated – afraid that Abdul wouldn’t grow up to do things like reading and writing. They imagined that their son might not be able to communicate with everyone and develop friendships with other children. ‘We didn’t think Abdul would be able to go to school, or have hopes and dreams like other children,’ Abdul’s mother explained ‘We felt helpless, unable to help him.’

Hidden away

However, everything changed when the family met Tearfund partner, Serve Afghanistan. The group is committed to inclusive education: integrating children with disabilities into the country’s mainstream education. They also offer specialist support for children with various disabilities.

A teenage boy Abdul standing at the front of a classroom signing the word hello

Salaam! Abdul signing 'hello' in his deaf special education class in school

When programme staff were in the family’s village of Ladu, they chanced upon Abdul. One of the programme’s deaf facilitators began giving the boy mobility lessons from his own home, where he was (virtually) housebound.

Abdul didn’t have a place at his school due to his deafness. Serve Afghanistan lobbied for Abdul’s cause, on behalf of his family. Finally he was admitted into his local school where he could learn reading, writing and arithmetic just like his friends.

Flying high

Today, Abdul is in the 3rd grade of a special education class. He has learned sign language, and how to communicate with his peers. With a little help from his family who love to encourage and support him at home, Abdul scored the highest results in his class during his recent exams!

'We are very proud of him. No longer will Abdul be labeled 'deaf' or 'disabled' or called names.'
Abdul's Mother

Abdul’s progress has served as a powerful testament to his family that, with a little bit of support, and a lot of determination, more is possible than we often dare to imagine. ‘Now we believe that every human being can do everything – Nothing is impossible," said Abdul's mother ‘We are very proud of him. No longer will Abdul be labeled 'deaf' or 'disabled' or called names.’ 

With the support of Tearfund, Serve Afghanistan is bringing hope to many children like Abdul , helping them to unlock their potential no matter what their disability. Children all over Afghanistan will be able to grow up to live life in all its fullness, knowing that they are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Please Pray

Top image courtesy of r.a. olea, Creative Commons

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Written by Ben Cohen