About a fortnight ago, as pupils across the country sat the Primary Leaving Examinations across South Sudan, 21-year-old John Lual Garang was not left behind, and the rare sight of him writing using his mouth fascinated not only his teachers but also the exam invigilators.
A pupil at Yargot Primary School in Yinh-Jier village of Aweil East County, Lual is disabled and is not able to use his limbs, he suffers from what may be considered functional limbs weakness, which has rendered his hands and legs functionless.
“I was born healthy, not like this. I was fine until I was four years old when somebody bewitched me,” Lual told Radio Tamazuj.
Due to his disability, Lual was not able to enroll in school like his peers. But at the age of 13, with determination, he enrolled, albeit late.
With the numerous challenges including 2013, and 2015 civil wars in the country, harsh economic times, and his inhibitions, Lual remained resilient and hopeful to study.
“I started my school in 2013, now I want to go to Senior one. But Senior one is far away. I don’t have the power to go to Aweil or Wau or Wanyjok or Juba. I cannot afford it. I want somebody to support me to go to school. I think school is the key to a better life,” he pleaded.
The young man who has his eyes on becoming a medical doctor also has a passion to spearhead the importance of education across the country. In the beginning, Lual confessed it was not an easy feat to write using his mouth, but with practice, it is now a walk in the park.
“I take the pen in my mouth and write very quickly, my hands cannot write, I can compete with you using my mouth to write,” explained a jovial Lual.
He says his greatest aid has been his younger brother who takes care of him, feeds him, and even takes him to and from school.
“I walk with my brother, my brother is very young. He is called Abuok. Abuok is clever and is strong. He does not complain that he is tired. When we have food, Abuok feeds me first. He is a very good boy. He also cleans me, I see him as my angel because he takes care of me,” he added.
Lual says he hopes to pass the exams because he prepared for them well.
“The exams were good for me and I will pass because I read well. I think I will be among the top 10 performers in my school. I do not play with education. If I get the support, I will study until I attain a degree. I love sciences,” he stressed.
As long as conditions allow, Lual says he will continue pursuing his education until he achieves his dream of becoming a medical doctor.
He adds, “I want to complete a university degree in South Sudan and do something meaningful. I want to become a doctor because I love to learn about the human body.”
One of Lual’s hopes is that peace will be maintained in the country so that all children will have the opportunity to go to school and change their lives for the better.
For his fellow disabled peers, Lual says nothing is impossible.
“For the disabled who see me, or hear me, I urge you to go to school my friend. Do not just drink water for nothing, do not just live life for nothing, let us go to school because school will change our lives.”