COMMUNITY VOICES | From the darkest to brightest


I lost my eyesight when I was a very young boy living in Taltale, a rural village in Ethiopia. As a result of my blindness, most of my childhood was spent behind closed doors, in the protection of my home; I had no access to formal schooling, and my world grew smaller and smaller. My young life suddenly changed from light to dark, from promise to sorrow.

The accident occurred at the end of 2000. I vividly remember that eventful day. It was very nice, sunny and gorgeous. After I had lunch with my family, I went to climb one of my favorite trees; when I reached the top, I lost my footing and fell many feet to the ground. The fall from the tree changed my life dramatically.

Within a year, I lost my eyesight. It was tough and difficult to accept at first; it was very hard for me to cope with the loss or get used to being blind. I stopped playing with children as I had before, and I quit going to school. I imagined there was no independent life for me; I thought I would have to depend entirely on others and never have a life of my own. There was no blind school or any resources available for blind people in Taltale, the town I lived in. Sadly, I became immured as a young boy. As a result, I became idle and spent all of my time with my family; in addition, I always needed people’s help to leave the house for a breath of fresh air. I couldn’t do anything by myself. I endured this situation for seven years. It was hard to deal with.

When I came to the United States, with great effort and determination, I was able to overcome my disability and regain my independence. After I lived in the United States for two months, I decided to enroll in blind school and learn to walk with a cane, but, at the same time, many people I knew discouraged me and wanted me not to walk on my own because they were concerned that I might get lost or get hit by car. I spent one full, lonely day pondering what was next in my life. Then I made my decision and asked my brother to take me to the State Services for the Blind, a blind rehabilitation center. The counselors there advised me and told me what blind people could and could not do. I began to instruct myself and became hopeful. I was optimistic and looked forward to having a great, bright future. I was committed to working hard and long.

These last three years, I have studied in the ABE program at Southside Education Center, and, most recently, I passed the GED. Soon, I begin classes at MCTC. My plan is to complete one or two years of courses at MCTC and then enter the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota.

I’m very thrilled to have passed the GED and to have the opportunity to earn a college degree and, in time, help others, as many have helped me. I thank my teachers for their encouragement, time and patience. I pray and praise God for leading me from the darkness and for the brightness that fills my life today.