Ly Lo Xa, 13, is from the La Hu ethnic minority group, a nomadic tribe without a tradition of sending children to school. His house is in a mountainous village, Ta Ba, where many of the community members face poverty. The roads and paths are in poor condition and Xa and his fellow students travel rugged trails through the forest to attend school.
Xa lost one of his legs after an untreated poisonous snake bite led to infection and eventually amputation. Once his leg healed, Xa pursued his school dream by learning to move on one leg without a crutch or wheelchair, both unusable on his community’s difficult mountain paths. Eventually, it was clear that Xa should stay at school in a dormitory with friends, and only go home from time to time.
Xa attends Ta Ba Secondary School, where in early 2015, CWS and our partner FELM began an education program. When CWS staff first visited Ta Ba and saw Xa, we were inspired to embrace his amazing spirit for education and to join him in spreading it!
This remarkable boy gave us a shining example of what can happen when a child’s right to education is upheld. Xa showed us all how important it is for children with different abilities to not be discriminated against. In fact, he reminded us all – his teachers, fellow students and other community members—that it is our obligation to encourage all children to go to school and to socialize with others regardless of any challenges they may face.
Xa’s story elevated the educational and extracurricular learning activities and made them more “real” to all students. For example, there were lessons about being careful to avoid natural dangers, like snake bites and dangerous forest walks during rainy times. Also, students learned by example by witnessing Xa’s struggles, and successes.
When teachers and students together cleared the brush around the school to avoid some of the dangers they discussed, Xa joined the group. When they turned the clear lot into a school vegetable garden with a chicken coop, Xa and other boarding students tended the garden so they could have a better diet. When CWS and FELM introduced child-centered teaching methods, Xa was a perfect example of the importance of making teaching child-focused and child-friendly – for all children.
Xa shares with us, “Thanks for teachers and friends and project activities, I have regained my confidence and positive attitude; I feel very happy to be back at school.” He continues, “I will stand strong – even with only one leg – and I hope that other students with challenges like mine, or other challenges, will also have encouragement and help.”