Bhoke (16) was born without a disability. But as a baby, she contracted malaria, and due to medical complications, her leg bent unnaturally. Bhoke's father saw her disability as a curse and abandoned the family. Thanks to the children's rights club at school, she has now regained her self-confidence.
Bhoke's disease clearly shows how malaria can be very dangerous. When she became infected as a baby, she suffered paralysis in her leg during treatment. After long-term care, she recovered from malaria, but became permanently disabled. A disability is often seen as a curse, her father also believed that and abandoned his family.
His sudden departure left the family distraught. Her mother was suddenly on her own and she had great difficulty taking care of her four children. But after five years, she managed to open her own clothing store and earn enough income. The family now lives in a modern rental house in Tarime, Tanzania, where Bhoke can play outside with other children.
Bhoke hasn't had it easy. Because of her disability, she was often bullied and humiliated by her father and his family. She also thought it was her fault that her father had left the family and married another woman. "My family's behaviour made me feel like I wasn't human; I felt unwanted and that made me so sad."
Despite the many harassments she experienced, Bhoke did not let herself be discouraged. After completing primary school, she moved on to secondary school. That's where the tide turned.
In high school, Bhoke came into contact with the children's rights club through drama and music activities. Children with disabilities are encouraged to participate as well. She liked it so much that she joined the club. She has been enthusiastically welcomed and the other young people actively involve her in organising activities and they help her with school when necessary. Bhoke also has an exemplary role. Since her arrival, four more students with disabilities have joined. Bhoke shows that a disability does not have to be a disability.
Still, Bhoke found it quite exciting at first. Due to the years of harassment, she had little self-confidence. That is why she received psychosocial support and guidance from the club teacher, which makes her resilient. She has also learned a lot about children's rights and she achieves good school results. She is now so confident that she dares to draw attention to the rights of children at school and in the community, especially for children with disabilities.
Our local partner who works for girls' rights and fights against female circumcision has taught her and other students about the dangers of this. Bhoke is very courageous; Not only does she share her knowledge with others at school and in the community, she also stands up for the rights of girls and children with disabilities. "Ignorance is a disease that can be cured by acquiring and sharing knowledge. I provide information to remove the prejudices about people with disabilities."
Bhoke: "I feel happy and confident among my classmates and friends. I am a good representative of other children with disabilities. I am very grateful to the club leader and the organisation that fights against female circumcision for the knowledge and guidance they have given me. Without them, I wouldn't have grown like this. I'm happy."
Bhoke looks forward to the future: "I want to become an artist so that I can be an example for other children with disabilities and give them the strength to follow their passions and express their talents."
Children like Bhoke have the right to a safe and good future. That's what you want every child to do, right?