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Isaya's story

Thursday, 8 June, 2017

Isaya (Isaiah) Blass lives with his mother Freeda and brother Denis, who is 14 years old. As Isaya grew up, his mother thought she would never be able to communicate with her child.

When Isaya was first identified by a Special Education Needs (SEN) teacher in the Community Based Education programme in 2014, he was not able to hold hands or do anything that required any kind of strength. Furthermore, he has epilepsy.

When we visited, Isaya was out of his medication because it was too expensive for his mother to afford. Previously, the tablets were given for free or were subsidised by the government or local centre, but this is no longer the case. Without the medication, he begun having seizures again.

Freeda, Isaya’s Mother, said:

“Before teachers started visiting I did not know I could communicate with my child. I thought I was helpless. Now if my child is doing something wrong and I can tell him and that amazes me.”

Smiling mother with child in armsSince being supported by Sense International and integrated into the Community Based Education Project funded by BLF, Isaya has progressed significantly. The first step working with Isaya was to conduct an assessment. His mother said she could improve Isaya’s sight by using bright colours to which he usually reacts to and is stimulated by. If provided with the appropriate support like scarfs and lights with bright colours, she could support her son’s progress.

Freeda said:

“With the standing chair provided by Sense International, both my sons can spend time together enjoying what they both love, football.

Isaya’s brother takes him to the soccer field to ‘feel’ the football match. Isaya loves football and is always so happy when he gets to go with his brother." 

A large part of Isaya’s individual development plan was to teach communication skills to his mother. For example, she learnt what to do in certain situations, how to interpret some of Isaya’s behaviours, and how to stop them if they were harmful in any way. Freeda has also received learning materials and toys that stimulate Isaya’s senses, such as a lighted elephant that has different lights and sounds when rolled over on a surface.

Freeda said:

“Isaya really doesn’t like the dark and gets scared and agitated when there is just darkness around him. We often have power cuts here, so we were provided with standing lights which I turn on to calm him down."

Isaya’s mother is an inspiration. She is a very active, positive and entrepreneurial woman. She and other women living in the same community who have children with disabilities created a support group to share knowledge, techniques and exchange ways to support their child’s progress. The group has also proved helpful for mothers who need to go somewhere out of the community, but do not want to leave their child alone.

First published: Friday 7 June 2013
Last updated: Wednesday 20 September 2017