For Hannah Mulbah (Liberia), joining UWCRCN is not merely a matter of getting a quality high school education. It is about breaking free from the negative stereotyping that she grew up with due to her disability. Hannah was five years old when, one morning, she fell on the ground and couldn’t get up by herself. Her parents took her to hospital, where she stayed for around a month, with no change in her condition. Her legs and arms were paralyzed, and she couldn’t walk. Her father realized that he couldn’t afford to pay the hospital bills any more. Then her Aunt, who lived in a rural area, offered to take Hannah home with her. Her parents agreed that she could live with her aunt until she was able to walk again – this is something that happened 5 years later, at the age of 10. It was not only the condition of her body but also the lack of support from the surroundings that made it difficult. “I had to learn to walk like a baby, trying to walk and fall, get up and try again. My bones were too weak to support me walking. It took me five years to be able to walk without falling now and then. If my aunt didn’t take me, who would have covered for a bill in an institution for such a long time?”

Once she regained her ability to walk, Hannah was determined that she was not going to stay home while her siblings were at school. ‘You cannot do this’ was something she would often hear. Even though it could make her sad and heavy-hearted, it did not stop her from going to school. “I kept trying to walk despite the pain I would get from falling. The long time it took me to reach somewhere didn’t make me give up! The most difficult part was to convince the school that I wanted to learn. The teachers, when they saw my wounds in my knee and arms, and me falling repeatedly, told me to go home and stay there until I get well, but I refused to do so.”

Hannah joined UWCRCN through the Survivors of Conflict Program. She has completed the Foundation year and is now in the first year of the IB program. She is actively doing physical exercises and training under the careful guidance of Physiotherapist Guro Hjelle Aamot at Red Cross Haugland Rehabilitation. This has helped her to build up stamina, strength and mobility. The girl who used to be told to stay at home due to her physical limitations while walking, now is taking part in out-door activities such as kayaking, hiking and skiing. “When I do these activities, I feel happy because in the first place, I didn’t have these opportunities before. I used to not be included when people play games like soccer and the like, with me just watching. Now, I am included, and it helps me to find my strength. At first, I was scared to get into the kayak, but now, I can jump into it as fast as I can and start paddling. It boosts my confidence when I see myself doing that. I feel good about myself and become more comfortable among other people.”

In summarizing her experience at UWCRCN, Hannah says it is a place that is giving her independence. She is confident that at the end of her 3 years stay, she will leave the College with a clear vision of her future. “My passion is to see myself finish my education and to do what other people without disability can do. I want to feel human like everybody else. I want to have that feeling and passion about life. I do not want to be limited by my disability . I want to challenge myself with whatever is coming to my path in life.”

Written by Genet Ashebir

Archives by category