An Interview with Innocent Justine L.

John Medo, The School Fund’s very first supported student, is spending one last week in Iringa as an intern for TSF and an assistant to TSF advisor, Fuad Abri.  Next week, John will travel back home to Karatu in Northern Tanzania and continue interviews with students there.  In early March, John interviewed Innocent Justine L., who has been supported by The School Fund since 2014.  View Innocent’s TSF profile and Journal here.

Innocent Justine L. is in Form Three at Miyomboni Secondary School.  He is 17 years old and has three sisters and one brother.  He lives with his parents, father, and mother 10 kilometers away from his school and 11 kilometers away from MMM Center [(TSF’S afterschool program located at Ummu Salama Secondary School in Iringa)].  His father is a house builder, who is unemployed and waiting until he is called by anyone who wants him to build his or her house.  Innocent’s mom does not work but stays at home doing domestic activities, so his father has been getting money from the work he is able to find.  This money must support the whole family of seven people.

Innocent was healthy when he was born, but when he reached Standard Five in 2009, he was afflicted with a condition that caused him to be unable to walk and move his body.  He lost weight abruptly.  His parents took him to the hospital where they were unable to reach a diagnosis, so he was transferred to hospitals in Muhimbili then Dar es Salaam, where doctors did their best, but were still unable to come up with any solution.  Doctors suspected that he had inherited the condition from one of of his family members and suggested that Innocent should remain in the hospital and get some physical exercise, but that was impossible for his parents who had already spent a lot of money without determining a solution for their son.

Since, Innocent still cannot move well and he gets tired when he moves, which makes it difficult for him to attend school everyday and frequently unable to attend the MMM center to journal.  His condition keeps him from his hobbies including football, which he enjoyed when he was young.  Innocent reports that his condition worsens daily.  A friend helps him get to school, but when his friend does not attend school, Innocent must remain home.

Yet, Innocent is very bright and was second best in his class out of 257. He says that he grew up in a good situation and his father does not discriminate against him because of his condition.  Innocent adds that his friends keep loving him, never neglect him, and they take a lot of responsibility to care for him.  Innocent believes everything happens for a reason and accepts his new condition.

Innocent says that life in Africa is fair, but it might not be easy for people with disabilities.  While they may be very bright, Innocent believes they may not be given the opportunities and values necessary to earn an education and get a job.

Innocent dreams of becoming an Orthopedic doctor.  Innocent wants to help people, like himself, who are born healthy, but develop conditions later in their lives.  He aims to treat them and help them to recover.

Innocent says TSF is very important to him because it will help him to fulfill his dreams.  Without TSF, his parents could not pay his fees and he would be expelled from school, which would affect his career. He thanks all TSF members and donors for supporting him.

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