Eight-year-old Shelcia Ananias is a keen student who wants to become a doctor. Matola, Mozambique. | © S. Roche / HI
Shelcia is a joyful, intelligent child. She loves going to school and playing with her best friends. She dreams of becoming a doctor.
Shelcia, aged eight, lives with her parents and cousin in Matola, a suburb of Maputo, Mozambique. She was born with a physical and motor disability that prevents her from walking unaided. She uses a wheelchair and needs help with everyday tasks such as washing.
Shelcia is a very vivacious child. Spontaneous and very sociable, she easily finds other children to play with. She has many friends in her neighbourhood and loves to spend time with them.
Shelcia is in Year3 at the Patrice Lumumba primary school. This inclusive school caters for pupils with disabilities, with teachers providing adapted support. Filomena, Shelcia's teacher, is very attentive to her needs and involves her in all activities.
“My teacher is great," Shelcia enthuses. "My classmates are also very nice. They help me during class and at playtime, we all have fun together. During playtime, I like to stay in the classroom and make my friends laugh. I have thousands of friends at school! My best friends are Yumina, Leonelcia, Hortência, Estesse, Albertina and Leotência.”
Going to school has changed Shelcia’s life completely. She has discovered a real appetite for learning and works very hard. “I love going to school," she says. "I love to learn. I already know how to count and now I'm learning to write vowels." Shelcia is full of ambition and there is no stopping her. She wants to become a doctor and has a clear goal in mind: she wants to help other children too.
Shelcia used to have trouble writing. Her wheelchair prevented her from sitting at a desk. Without a table to lean on, she had to use her legs to help her write. Through its inclusive education project, HI accompanied her family, who was determined to find a solution. Her father made her a personalised desk by fitting a wooden board to her wheelchair. Now her notebook and textbooks are at the right height and her hands are free to write.
Shelcia's father, Ananias, requested extra assistance for Shelcia to help her develop her abilities and continue her schooling. Cristina and Gláucia, members of the HI team in Mozambique, provide her with specific support and organise regular coaching and information sessions, in person or by telephone. “They often come to the house – they are a great help to me. They are my pillars, because they support me a lot," says Ananias.
Shelcia's school is a bit far from her home. As she cannot go by herself, her father and cousin, help her. Shelcia's father, Ananias, explains, "My daughter can get around at home or at school no problem. But it’s more difficult for her to use public transport because people igore her disability: they don’t help her to get on the bus, for example. "
" Everything is going well at school and Shelcia's teacher is wonderful: she helps her a lot with her learning. My daughter has been very well accepted by her teacher and her classmates. The fact that the school is inclusive is very important because it’s a step towards the inclusion of children with disabilities. In an inclusive school, children are taught to help and support each other. In this way, other children learn that disability does not make you different.”
Shelcia's family is modest and cannot afford to buy the medication prescribed for her. Her father does not work and he takes care of her. He is confident in her abilities: "My daughter is very intelligent. I know she’ll continue her studies and go to university.”