By Joelma Pereira; Edited by Jeannine d’Entremont-Farrar
Nine-year-old Mourtala contracted polio, a highly infectious disease caused by a virus that invades the nervous system. As a result, he’s unable to stand and walk, but gets around on his hands and knees, despite the pain this causes.
A few days after the start of school, World Vision provided him with a set of school supplies including a school bag, text books, notebooks, pencils, pens, erasers and most important – two pairs of knee pads and two pairs of gloves. The knee pads and gloves help protect Mourtala’s hands and knees as he makes his way to school.
At first, Mourtala’s teacher was concerned that he wouldn’t fit in with the other children but to her surprise, he’s always the first to arrive at school. She said Mourtala is also one of the smartest students in his class and gets involved in all classroom activities.
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Excited and proud, Mourtala describes how he and his parents felt after the donation of school supplies.
"At the midday break, when I carried my bag, with my knee pads and gloves, the whole school was watching me; my friends envied me. When my parents came out to greet me, my mom had tears streaming down her cheeks and she said, 'My son, now your handicap became an advantage for you, and I am the happiest mother in the village.'
“The next morning,” Mourtala continues, “several students came and waited at our door in order to accompany me to school. I became like Mahamadou Issoufou, the President of Niger, who always has people behind him and since that day, my love for school grew.”
Inspired by the experience of good education and inclusion, Mourtala announces,"At the end of my studies I would like to be a teacher."