Mother attends school with her disabled child

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Sout Putz

Fredrika Tiboth, a 43-year-old unemployed mother of three, is going to primary school all over again.
This time it is not for her to learn, but to make sure her child gets an education. She is always present at the school grounds to the extent that one would think she is also a teacher, but she is simply there to watch over her child and ensure he gets all the help he needs.

Her son’s disability forced her to quit her job as a domestic worker after she gave birth in 2004. She now takes care of her boy, who is wheelchair bound, on a fulltime basis.

Speaking from her house at Sout Putz about 80 km north of Keetmanshoop, she narrated that since her child started school at Nowak Primary school in Tses in 2014, she herself has become like a learner, as she wakes up every morning to escort her child to school about three kilometres away.

She says it takes her about 35 minutes to push her son from home to school and she has to remain at school all day to give him the necessary assistance when the need arises.

“I’m always at school. Sometimes I sit in the classroom at the back or nearby the class on the floor. I can’t leave him alone, because you never know when he might need some help,” she said.

Tiboth says she has in a sense become part of the school now. She sometimes helps the teachers cover the learners’ books as she sits in the classroom with her son.

Rheino Tiboth, her 11-year-old son, is now in Grade 3 and his disability does not seem to affect his studies, as he has never failed a grade since he started school. He proudly showed this reporter his previous report card and his performance is well above average.
Asked about his future plans once he finishes school, he says he wants to become a traffic officer one day.

His father, 45-year-old Marthins April, who is also unemployed, says they struggle to take the boy to and from school and it is very tiring.

He explained that while he stays home and looks for casual jobs from time to time, he has to help push the boy home after school, as it is too much for the mother to do alone on a daily basis.

April says he has tried to find a place near the school, but was told to apply for an erf and is still waiting for a response. He says getting a place near the school would be of great help as it would make it easier to get to school. He added that although his son gets the monthy N$250 disability grant from the government, it is just not enough to meet all his needs.

“We are not being ungrateful for what the government is giving us, but it’s just not enough,” he said. The family pleaded with good Samaritans to help in any way they can to improve the living conditions of the boy.

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