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James Elisa Babu is physically challenged and is only mobile with the aid of his tricycle. Born into a poor family of seven, James said life has not been easy for him. James harbored the desire to become a laboratory technician, but taking the dive was not easy. Despite all odds he was not deterred. “When I was in primary 8, I drew the picture of the microscope. It came out well and I got inspired. From there, I promised myself that I would achieve this dream to become Laboratory Technician]”, he said.


After completing senior 4 in 2016, when James joined Yambio State Health Science Institute in 2017, the start was not easy either. “When I went to pick the registration form, the principal told me that he will need to first consult whether I will be allowed to undertake this course [due to the disability]. I felt bad as I was being judged based on my disability”, adds James. 


After a short period, the Principal returned to him with the good news that he had been cleared to pursue the course, something that gave him a huge relief. Recounting his days in the school, he said that from the day one his life was not easy as he had to navigate through steps of the hospital and the school building to access the classrooms for lessons.


“My classmates were very helpful. They helped to wheel me in and out of the classrooms and we used to go out together for breakfast and lunch”, James recollects. “But this should not be the case. The classrooms, hospitals, and public spaces all need to be made accessibility-friendly for people like me” he recommends.


Article 19 of the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2006, emphasizes that persons with disabilities are the rights holders. The principles of the Convention (Article 3) emphasis particularly on respect for the individual’s inherent dignity, autonomy, and independence.


The next challenge was to raise 20,000 South Sudanese Pounds (equivalent to 40$). This gave him the idea of starting a small roadside telephone charging booth and a stall to sell cigarettes in a nearby market. “I started with one Bako (roll); charged mobiles phones at Pozo market. I would pay some money to a businessman who runs a generator in the market to power my telephone charging booth, which helped me raise 20,000 SSP tuition fees. On my way to school, some well-wishers would give me money. I would buy something to eat and save some money for pens and books” soft-spoken James narrates.


James would like to continue studies to obtain a degree in medical laboratory technician. He appeals to the people with disabilities not to be held back. He stresses that persons with disability should fight to claim the equal spaces within society.


The principal of Yambio Health Science Institute Mr. Filbert Victor described James as a creative and hardworking student. “He moved from a private clinic to another to raise money for his studies. His condition did not make him feel vulnerable. I have hope in him.” 


James is one of the 195 students who graduated from the Health Sciences Institute at an event held at Yambio freedom square. The graduates passed different disciplines such as public health, Laboratory Technicians, Nursing, and Midwifery.



The combined graduation of three batches were delayed due to insecurity and Covid-19. The Institute is operated by AMREF with support from UNFPA, financially supported by Government of Sweden and Global Affairs Canada.