Bita, 12 years old, is from Duhok, Kurdistan Region of Iraq. She has Down syndrome. “Our society doesn’t give much attention to people like Bita... they would make fun of her. This is very troubling for me, personally,” says Ageed, Bita’s father. After being rejected by many schools due to her condition, Bita was finally admitted to a specialised institute where she can thrive and learn how to be independent. “At this moment, Bita is capable of going home by herself. She has the house keys in her bag. She opens the door and goes to her room.”

The institute she attends hosts around 200 children with physical and mental disabilities such as blindness, deafness, and autism. It provides adequate education to the children, so they can be better integrated into society.

“There is a huge difference between someone who is confined to a closed environment and someone who goes outside. Now that she goes to the institute, Bita wakes up in the morning, works with her teachers, and studies her lessons until noon. When she returns home, she is busy with her homework until the evening. In the evening, she is exhausted and sleeps at nine. Had she stayed at home, there would have been nothing like this: she would have always been asleep and troubled.”

I like it here. I will come tomorrow as well. When I draw, all my teachers tell me 'well done!'.

Bita looks forward to going to school every morning and she is happy to learn and be more self-reliant. She can always count on the support of her family and teachers, who encourage her efforts and achievements.

© European Union 2018 / Johanna de Tessières

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