In Ethiopia, blind children traverse challenging social and physical terrain in order to receive an education. Widespread poverty and regional social stigma lead some to Sabeta, where the Sabeta Primary School provides residential and non-residential education for special needs students, the majority blind and visually impaired. Until sixth grade, the primary school provides for the basic needs of the student population - food, housing, and clothes. Upon reaching seventh grade, however, students must leave campus and find their own housing, subsisting on a meager government stipend of 300 birr (around $18USD) per month. Challenges compound as children must navigate the sighted world, often hundreds of kilometers from a family that may or may not acknowledge them. While many residents of Sabeta assist these students, stories abound of thefts, assaults, and even sexual assault perpetrated by the sighted on the unsighted. Blind youth struggle together, forming tight groups who assist each other in overcoming daily obstacles.
Tesfa ("Hope" in local Amharic language) became blind at a very young age. She moved to Sabeta, where the Sabeta Primary School provides state-funded residential education for primary grades up to sixth. Seventh and eighth grade students are required to live off campus, relying on a tiny stipend to provide for their basic needs and their friends to navigate the sighted world. In eighth grade, Tesfa became pregnant. She continued her education with the help of friends who assisted in raising her first child, Alazar. When she became pregnant with her second child, the demands on her time were too great to continue her education. She now has four children, one of whom (a daughter) she had to give up for adoption. She continues to struggle to raise her other three children.