By: Samah Sabry, Program Coordinator
In a small community near Abnoub, Egypt, Amany lives with her father, mother, four sisters and two brothers. She is 14 years-old, and likes drawing, coloring and knitting. She also likes learning and going to school – she wishes to become a doctor one day so she can save lives and help people in need.
Yet, due to being a stunted child, Amany encountered many obstacles in her early years. This means that Amany faced impaired development due to poor nutrition. Although she attended an inclusive school, her schoolmates did not understand her challenges. They started to annoy and make fun of her, and did not usually involve her in school activities. Amany found herself increasingly isolated, and did not participate in class and preferred to be silent even if she had questions related to her lessons. As a result, she failed her first year at school.
“She is very kind and smart, and she did not deserve this bad treatment because of her condition,” explains Amany’s father who was very worried about her.
Amany’s teachers did not have any previous experience or knowledge on how to deal with her situation, but fortunately, her school was one of 11 others in Egypt that received specific teacher training as part of the Child Protection Program.
The program objective is to improve the school environment to help children receive a better education, and aims to enhance children’s skills and cope with and report cases of abuse and bullying. In addition, all students are encouraged to accept differences, and adapt to their surroundings inside school and society.
Eventually Amany had the courage to ask for help from School Psychologist Ms. Safiya and the Social Support Officer Ms. Sanaa. “I went to them because I understood that they are here to teach and protect us students,” said Amany.
Both teachers intervened by holding several group sessions with Amany and the students, connecting them together through activities that focused on acceptance, and understanding of differences. After a few sessions, teachers started to notice that the children were reacting positively and participating with Amany, especially in the games of relationship building.
Now in her second year of preparatory school, Amany has restored her self-confidence, and is making friends. She is a member of the girl’s football team and participates in school clubs like the Broadcast Group. She is also active in class and getting better grades.
Amany’s father was relieved when he learned that she was doing better at school. “I was very happy when the students started to treat her well,” he explains. “Amany wants to be a doctor and I will do everything I can to help her achieve her dream.” With her newfound confidence, Amany is well on the path to doing just that.