Mouna, 20, who was born with a visual impairment. Seven years of war and displacement have added to Mouna’s challenges, but she is determined to continue her education and study political science. Mouna wants the world to hear her – she takes part in a weekly radio show where she discusses issues that are of interest to young people like her.
Mouna shared a letter with us written in braille. It is transcribed below:
I am Mona Othman, from Aleppo city. I am 20 years old. I live with my father, mother, two brothers, and a sister. All of us in one house. We were displaced five times between Aleppo and Hama.
The situation is quieter back home now but I still can’t go back. Very few people have done so and we can’t afford to fix our house which was partially destroyed in the fighting.
Even though I was born blind, I am always grateful that nothing is difficult for me. I am determined to accomplish my goals in life.
The war, and especially displacement, affected me a lot. Every time I make new friends I have to leave them. I miss every house I’ve lived in.
When the war started, I was always scared and could not find stability. But later I felt stronger, knowing that it is my right to live and my right to learn.
War also took a very dear friend from me. He was plucked away like a flower that was just beginning to bloom. He was killed by a shell in an attack while he was fixing his home. I grieved a lot after his death. He and I used to talk about the difficulties I face; he gave me the strength to challenge these difficulties.
I started going to school when I was 12. It was a school for visually-impaired children. I learned Braille in a week and passed two grades in a single year.
Later when we had to move, I went to a regular school. My friends there helped me a lot. They read lessons to me and I wrote them down. I have a special tool to write: it’s called a Braille slate. It comes with a special pen to punch holes in paper.
I still continue my education. I started attending remedial classes of English and French after school hours. When I go to school, I recite everything I learn to my friends. I help them understand and learn. I love helping others.
The main challenge I face as school is the lack of Braille textbooks. I have only the audiobooks but I can’t depend on them; I need to have actual Braille books to study from. Copying the textbooks takes about seven hours a day for me and my friends. I barely have time to study. Despite the technological advances, books are still the best resources.
I also love to participate in awareness programmes on the radio, which I do weekly. I share my views and provide suggestions to other young people. We discuss topics like early marriage, divorce in the family, child labour and other issues.
When I grow up I want to study political science. My friend Maram told all about this subject and I loved it. I hope I can make it to university in the future.
Finally, I hope from the bottom of my heart that all children are able to get an education. Learning is the most important thing in life. There is no life without learning. When we are educated, we see life positively.
And those who have had the chance to receive an education should spread learning to others. That’s how societies develop.
With my love and respect,
UNICEF supports Mouna with remedial classes in English and French.