The French documentary “On the Way to School” profiles four children making their way to school in the developing world. One, 13 year old Samuel from India, is pushed and pulled 2.4 miles to school and home again by his two younger brothers in a makeshift wheelchair. The wheelchair consists of little more than a plastic lawn chair attached to a couple of bicycle wheels, but the ubiquity of the parts that compromise it mean the trio can get it fixed at a local repair place when the tire inevitably gets a flat… and the benefits of having a cheap plastic seat without upholstery become apparent when Samuel’s brothers decide to try pushing him through a couple of streams.
Samuel’s school does have a concrete ramp in front, and he’s met at the entrance to his classroom by a team of larger boys who carry him the rest of the way in. In an interview, Samuel tells of how fortunate he is go to school, when many of his peers don’t get the opportunity. He wants to become a doctor to help kids like him walk someday.
The supporting web site for the film explains that Samuel was premature when he was born, so his disabilities are likely due to cerebral palsy. They further reveal that Samuel is the only one in his family who can read, and that the arduous journey to school we see was due to the local village school being unable or unwilling to accommodate Samuel.
The Way(s) to School Foundation has been collecting donations to ensure that all four kids profiled can continue their schooling with scholarships, and have already bought Samuel a new wheelchair. Considering the rough terrain he has to cross every day, we at Disability Movies hope it’s a very rugged one suited for his environment.