After a good night’s sleep and a nice breakfast, we went to Dacang Primary School.
The school has 18 classes and 42 teachers, 12 of whom live at the school, and 633 students. Twelve of them have a disability, mostly learning disabilities.
The school has a 13-year history of working with Save the Children. Since 2008, they have been a model school for ‘left behind’ children – children whose parents went to work in the bigger cities leaving them with their grandparents or within the care of the school.
One of the students with a disability is now in the sixth grade. She suffers from epilepsy. She has had several attacks that can’t be predicted upfront.
When she was in the first grade she was a very shy little girl. Her classmates could sense something being wrong with her, and so could the teachers, but there wasn’t enough knowledge and experience to help her. Step by step they all learned.
One of the main things her teacher did was focusing on the positive things.
By adjusting the classwork, for example, the class has to write down one page and she has to do a couple of lines. She started feeling more confident and has blossomed!
There is a lot of competition going on in the school to make sure that the most of the kids’ potential is reached. One of the things they do is write down the class scores on a big chalkboard at the school’s playground.
One of the things that touched me was the fact that the little girl didn’t perform well in one of her tests, because of having an attack. The teacher didn’t give her a grade but wrote down ‘good’ so the class’s average wouldn’t be affected.
We participated in break time activities such as basketball and badminton…but that quickly turned into a ‘signing our name’ session! Haha…everywhere you looked there were kids holding papers and pens wanting our autographs. It was a bit unusual and I almost felt like a rock star!
After leaving the school we went to have lunch, invited by the principal.
After lunch, two home visits were planned. The first was at the home of the little girl with epilepsy. She lives alone with her mom. Her dad died two years ago and her brother works too far away to be able to help them much. Her mom works for a farmer and peels walnuts in her free time to make some extra money.
When we asked the mom what she likes to do with her daughter in their free time, her first answer is doing homework.
After talking a bit longer mom proudly told us that her daughter likes to cook and that she cooks better then herself.
Then she also told us that she taught her daughter how to skip a rope!
When we asked her what her daughter dreams of, she said she wants to become a doctor so she can help kids with her condition in the future!
The second home visit was at the house of a young boy who is deaf. He was born without a bone in his ears.
After having two operations, he still can’t hear well. First they hit a nerve and, during the second operation, some fluid got in his ear.
He lives with his mom, dad, brother and grandma. They also peel walnuts for some extra income.
His grandma and mom offered us tea and some sunflower seeds…handfuls of them.
The boy didn’t really have friends because of being deaf.
The mom is really happy with him going to a regular school now, so he is part of society, part of normal daily routines and equal to his classmates.
Unfortunately, it’s too expensive for them to pay for a hearing device – it will take them years to save up for that.
I asked his mom what her hopes are for her son’s future. She started to tear up and I felt really bad for making her cry…
She went into another room and, after a few minutes, she came back. She told us that it wasn’t the question that upset her but bringing all the memories back of the operations and his childhood.
Her only hope for her boy is for him to be happy =)