Siblings of special needs student Susanna Dage thank God for her academic success and their own ability to care for her after both parents had passed away.
By ENAMYRA ANI and SYLVIA PERSATA
UPNG Juournalism students
SUSANNA Dage, is a grade eight student who leaves a legacy behind for topping the 2019 grade eight students at Carr Memorial Adventist Primary (CMAPS). Her success in school was highlithed at the school’s graduation held recently at the Seventh-Day Adventish Church’s Bahutama hall in Central.
Susana is from a mixed parentage of Madang, New Ireland and East Sepik. She comes from a family of six and is the youngest. At the graduation, she was named the overal dux of the 2019 class. Susanna is special to her family, teachers, friends and students despite her health conditions. She was born a normal child but was later diagnosed with arthritis in her childhood and more recently she was diagnosed again with a heart disease that leaves her on medication.
Her dad was a marine engineer and mom a primary school teacher. In 2013 the Dage family lost their father and after five years they lost another important person who was their mother.
Jonathan Dage, the eldest brother who is currently working with the Seventh-Day Adventist Church under the Central Papua Conference says that there are challenges everyday but God is their strength.
“Raising Susanna is really challenging but God is always there for us through it all,” he says
“Her health condition requires a lot of things in terms of finance, care giving and other things but God made all these things possible for us.
“All our challenges, needs and problems are met by families and friends with the help of God.”
Susanna was first enrolled at the Cheshire Homes school but insisted that she would continue her education with normal kids in government or church-run schools.
“I feel normal schooling with normal kids,” she says.
When asked how she feels about being the overall dux she replies: “It is God that helped me and not my own strength.”
Susanna says she never regrets anything in life that changed her because she trusts God and has faith in Him. She believes that God is always on her side.
“I have many challenges but God is with me. God says in the Bible in Psalms 27:10 that though your parents forsake you but I will never forsake you.”
Jonathan also says on behalf of his siblings that compassion is one of the important things that their mother taught to have for others.
“Our parents taught us compassion and these situation brings us to feel for others that are like Susanna.
“Everything we do in the house we help her, like opening doors, washing her and other things. And so by doing those things it builds your character to be more compassionate to others.”
Two teachers from CMAPS also comment about having Susanna around in school and teaching her.
Commerce teacher Sharon Keller teacher, says having Susanna in her class is something special. Keller says that Susanna loves to read books and when there is no library book, she borrows her teacher’s text books and reads ahead of the rest of the students.
“She’s not an extrovert, she’s an introvert. Susanna is a quiet girl and is more into reading books. In my classroom, my students give her special treatment by waiting for her to come out first or sometimes her friends help her carry her bag and books to her house.
“Sometimes they give her money, provide lunch for her and treat her in a really special way.”
Susanna’s Basic Technology and Basic Computing Skills teacher, Jamurang Benjamin, says that having a student like Susanna in class is a total new package in relation to teaching strategy.
“With all the normal kids and Susanna as a special kid, it kind of puts us in a situation where we teach in a way that she will understand what we are talking about,” he says.
“As teachers, we’ve been observing all the performance made by students. Since the lower grades up to upper grades, she’s been collecting awards every end of the year, until last year she was short by two marks to get the dux award.”
“It wasn’t a surprise to us that she got the dux award this year. She deserves it. Since I came here, I’ve never seen a kid getting awards from grade three all the way up to grade eight. Let’s just say congratulations to her.”
Susanna urges students not to take education for granted but be thankful for what they have.
“For me, I am struggling, and for normal people they must not take their life and education for granted and be happy and thankful always and help people like me.”