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Source: Grant Guess

Bafana


By Grant Guess | September 24, 2015
Bafana, also known as “Baf,” is a young man with cerebral palsy living in Kpalimé, Togo. After learning of the disabilities caused by his cerebral palsy, including learning problems, speech difficulties, and decreased motor skills, among others, Baf’s parents ceased to believe that their son could add any value to society. As a result of thinking that Baf was incapable of working, let alone learning, they restricted him from receiving an education and limited his life existence to his house and the area where he lived.

When Baf was in his teens, a woman who had seen him on the street decided to bring him to the Envol, the only school for children with special needs in the 80,000 person town of Kpalimé. Baf was subsequently enrolled in classes at the Envol, and for the next few years, continued to increase his independence until he was able to rent a small room for himself. After graduating from the Envol several years ago, he became the school’s first graduate to be employed full time by the school.

However, shortly after learning that their son was earning a steady wage, Baf’s parents began to demand his paycheck from him, even though Baf no longer lived with his parents and was fully supporting himself. After several stolen paychecks, he decided to inform the director of the school, Théo Betevi. In response, Théo opened up a spearate bank account for Baf that only he and Baf could access. Neither Baf, nor Théo, have seen the parents since.

Today, Baf is happier than ever working on the school’s sustainable livestock farm. Along with the farmer on staff, he is currently responsible for maintaining the rabbits, chickens, agoutis (a groundhog like mammal that is commonly eaten throughout West Africa), and snails that are currently being raised on the school’s sustainable farm. He is at the school nearly every day of the week from dawn until dusk. And even though he walks with a limp and has limited mobility in one arm due to muscle tightening brought on by his cerebral palsy, he works just as hard, if not harder, than everyone else.