— visually impaired Afeefa Ally beats odds to excel at NGSA
By Nafeeza Yahya
WITH great determination and a supportive family, Afeefa Ally, 12, of Number 76 Village, Corriverton, East Berbice, Corentyne, who is visually-impaired, has proven that being born with a disability does not mean one cannot achieve his/her dreams or have a relatively normal life.
Ally, who scored 502 marks at the recent National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA), is ranked second at her school, Corriverton Primary, and has secured a spot at St Stanislaus College in the Capital City.
Ally was delivered prematurely at six months and was initially told she had cancer but was later diagnosed with retinopathy of prematurity, an eye disorder cause by abnormal blood vessel growth that rendered her legally blind.
Despite an attempted corrective surgery in the United States, Ally can only differentiate darkness from brightness. This, however, did not put a damper on her dreams of becoming a writer or inventor.
With the support of her family, especially her grandmother, interesting ways were crafted to make her work easier.
“I studied and revised my work but I didn’t do too much in one day. I try to spread it around, Math was a bit tricky. I was able to understand better for the other subjects with the diagrams grandma made with play dough,” she told the Guyana Chronicle.
Despite being a bit disappointed because she did not get to achieve the marks for Queen’s College, the soft-spoken but eloquent pre-teen sees her achievement as an inspiration for every child living with a disability. Living with a disability does not limit a person’s capabilities, she said.
“Not because you are disabled means that you can’t do what normal people do. Just put your mind to it; you can do anything. Reach for the sky. Whatever you put your mind to, you can achieve. You just have to try and never give up. Every journey begins with a single step but don’t get frustrated if you didn’t do well at first; continue to try,” was her inspiring message to others.
WORK WITH YOUR CHILDREN
Meanwhile, Afeefa’s parents, both of whom are teachers, are encouraging parents to work with their children, especially those with disabilities.
“We don’t limit her with her disabilities; a lot of kids with disabilities may be at home as parents would be skeptical of sending their children to school. When we started to send her to school, we weren’t hoping so much in terms of education. we want her to socialise, and we want her to have a normal life. In time we realise she has this ability that she could learn and so we try to strengthen that ability; God has blessed her with a fantastic memory. Parents need to find that strength in their children and work on them. Most parents may look at the disability and fail to see the strength in the children and they may never be able to accomplish anything. Accomplishment is not only in the sense of education they need to find. They need to search for that strength that a child has and help them nurture it,” her mother Afsana, said.
The overjoyed parents are also thankful to the Ministry of Education for providing worksheets and text books that were instrumental in assisting Afeefa to be successful at her examinations.
“We are happy; we have been working with her; we just hope that her story can inspire others to work with their children despite their disability,” the proud mother said.
Afeefa, instead of attending St Stanislaus College in the City, will continue her education at the Skeldon/Line Path Secondary, which is not far from where she lives.
“I want to be a writer or inventor; I love creating things. I want to be able to work and be independent,” the young lady said confidently.
When she is not studying, Afeefa spends her time playing with friends, cousins, younger sibling and listening to her audiobooks.