By JINA AMBA
BORN without hands doesn’t stop Emmanuel Wan from going to school or doing other activities like other children his age.
Sixteen-year-old Immanuel is from the Ganaka-Ulgumb tribe of Nebilyer in the Western Highlands.
He is a cheerful, hardworking boy and does most of his chores using his feet, especially gathering firewood to take home.
He is the first born in a family of three; he has a brother and a sister. Their father is a pastor. Emmanuel dreams of becoming a lawyer in the future.
“Despite my disability and family background my dream is to be a good lawyer,” he says with determination in his eyes.
Emmanuel attends Kunmony Primary School in Lower Nebilyer. He has a special skill in writing using his left foot and he has been doing so when he started school.
In the classroom during lesson time, Immanuel sits on top of his desk and writes using his toes.
Emmanuel is an above-average student in his class of 32 students.
According to a report from the AusAid Strongim Pipol, Strongim Nesen programme, Emmanuel, who is unlike other children, was born without hands. However, this did not stop him excelling in school or doing what other children do.
Emmanuel’s mother Veronica Wan said she never dreamt of sending Emmanuel to school because of his disability and the distance.
“I thought he was not a normal child, he wouldn’t be able to hold a pencil to write but he proved me wrong. He writes with his left foot and has a very keen interest in education. He says his aim is to complete his education and become someone in his community.”
Meanwhile, another student with disability who is studying at the Flexible Open and Distance Education (Fode) centre hopes to be a successful businessman.
Robin Raluame from Southern Highlands is doing Grade 11 lessons at the Port Moresby Fode Centre.
Raluame was involved a car accident in 2015 when he was in Grade 11 and became paralysed from the waist down and has been in a wheel chair ever since.
He said he could not continue his education following the accident so he left school. Before the accident, when he was in Grade 11 he lost one of his eyes also in an accident.
Raluame said this year when he heard about free education at Fode, he enrolled to complete Grades 11 and 12.
He said he has a wife who was helpful and always taking care of him everywhere he went.
Raluame said earlier he was planning to do a human resource course at university but recently he changed his mind.
He said he wanted to take up business administration as he has already started by a small trade store at his home in Port Moresby.
Raluame said a number of parliamentarians have pledged to support him in his SME business.
He said Fode has helped and empowered students like him to continue their education by giving them tablets and other resources to help them in their studies.
One of his role models is Isabella Kila who is a lawyer now. (Isabella was born without hands but persevered in school, and recently graduated from the Legal Training Institute and was admitted to the bar of the National and Supreme Courts.)
He said her story was a motivation to people especially students with disabilities.
Raluame said he hoped to achieve anything in life as long has he has his goals and vision to be successful in life.
Fode Port Moresby office this year enrolled 20 students with disabilities and aims to support and encourage them to be who they want to be in future.
Students with special needs or with disabilities can and are able to achieve anything in life if they have dreams and goals and importantly work hard to achieve them.
Organisations like Callan Services, Cheshire Home and even mainstream schools in the country have been taking in students with disabilities in recent years.
Some students with disabilities have achieved their dreams and goals and have become successful in life.
The Port Moresby Fode office has seen an increase in the number of students with disabilities.
Last year Margaret Gerari, a teacher at Ted Diro Primary School in Port Moresby said it should be compulsory for all teachers to be trained in sign language so that they would communicate well with students with disabilities.
She said there were courses for teachers, especially sign language and teachers should take up such courses. Today most schools are taken in students with disability and sign language is vital for teachers.
Gerari said it is a need for teachers to take up sign language courses so that they can teach students with disability and the children can improve.
She said in this case it depends on individual teachers to communicate with this students with disability especially those students with hearing and speech problem.
Gerari said teachers found it a bit hard to communicate with students because they did not know sign language.
Organisations like Cheshire Home and Callan Services train students with disabilities at a young age and release them into mainstream schools once they are deemed fit and able to cope.
Persons with disabilities continue to inspire others to appreciate life, regardless of its challenges. In most instances they do remarkable things which many able-bodied people cannot do. In spite of their limitations they still strive to succeed, at times without the assistance of other people.
By JINA AMBA