Gilbert Otieng’ is a sixteen-year-old boy who can neither walk nor stand up, but whose remarkable story is that of hope, courage and an unbreakable determination to overcome his physical challenges.
For a start there is no bus service to his school in his home area deep in Teso South constituency, Busia County. Yet, the hilly terrain doesn’t stop him from getting to school everyday at St Dominic Aderema Primary School.
Otieng’s parents cannot afford a wheelchair for him but that has not deterred the Standard Four pupil from crawling for two miles to and from school everyday.
He does it four times everyday with his hands and knees.
At lunchtime, he crawls back home then makes the torturous journey back for the afternoon lessons.
In the evening, the story is the same.
He crawls for about 30 minutes before he reaches school, which translates to 6km everyday and 3okm every week.
His mother Rose Apali said when he gave birth to his son, all was well but the child became paralysed at the age of five.
“Otieng’ got disabled when he was five years old. Since then, things have never been the same for my son,” said Ms Apali.
APPEAL FOR HELP
The mother says when Otieng’ turned 11, he insisted on going to school, a decision they found hard to make, considering his condition.
Otieng’ eventually joined school and has been attending his classes without fail, regardless of the weather. And he never complains.
“Come rain or sunshine, everyday he goes to school,” the mother says.
But Otieng’ admits that for the past 11 years his life has been full of endless challenges.
“It has been a painful experience for me. Waking up very early to crawl to school. I have to return home for lunch, go back for afternoon lessons then in the evening I go home. Sometimes, the road is too muddy because of rain but I have to go to school,” he says.
In a separate interview with KTN, Otieng’, whose favourite subjects are Science, English and Mathematics, said his dream to become a doctor.
The family would be happy to receive help from well-wishers to enable the teenager to join a school for the disabled or get him a wheelchair.
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