I am developing boils in my armpits, but I still use my crutches to go to work. I don’t see a reason why I should stay home and starve.
During my childhood, I was taken to the hospital and given an injection. I was very normal until the age of four years when I got measles. After the injection, I was paralyzed. From the age of six years upward, I couldn’t walk anymore. At that time, my mom died, so my mom’s sister – that is my aunt – took over my upkeep. Life was very difficult for me then, so my sister brought me from our village to Accra to continue taking care of me. Right now, I am living with my sister and her husband and my nephew and niece, so we are five in number.
I do not know my father. If my father came and stood before me right now, I couldn’t identify him. My aunt was able to support me through stage five in primary school, but after that, she wasn’t able to support me anymore because she was taking care of her own kids. No one really cared about me.
Through begging for alms, I was able to raise some funds to start learning shoe-making, but my trainer left for abroad. I couldn’t graduate in my trade, but I was able to learn to a certain level. I am now working as a driver’s assistant. They pick me up at the market. I found that job myself. In the morning, I would wake up early and go there. I knew that was where the drivers stopped and picked up passengers, so in the course of being there, I got the job.
I am a very strong guy and very determined. With determination and the help of God, you can move on. I am developing boils in my armpits, but I still use my crutches to go to work. I don’t see a reason why I should stay home and starve. It takes me one and a half hours to get from my house to the market for work. Now that I have developed boils, I am in pain and do not go as fast, so it takes me more than an hour and a half.
I never had a friend during childhood – or even now. I am always focused on whatever I am doing and on how I will make ends meat. I was very unhappy as a child, but I was always very determined. My biggest sadness as a child was when I saw my friends going out to play but I couldn’t join them because I didn’t have any crutches back then. So I had to be left in the house. I am a very reserved person now.
My happiest moment is when I find myself a bottle of Guinness or K20. If I am able to make some money, I send my niece or nephew to get me one, and I sit and enjoy it by myself. After that, together with my niece and nephew, we play in the house, and I am happy.
What have you learned about the world and about people as a result of your disability?
The stigmatization is very high when it comes to mingling with the able, and sometimes, people pass certain comment saying that it is my evil ways that resulted in my situation. I ask them, don’t you think there is a possibility that you could become like me someday?
What is the biggest barrier you’ve faced as person with a disability in society?
My biggest barrier is housing. I don’t have any proper place for living. My sister is married, and I cannot be in the same room as her and her husband. If I were able to have my own accommodation, I think that I could marry or at least do things privately. I would visit my sister but afterwards go back to my own house.
What is your dream for your own life?
My biggest hope for myself and for disabled persons is that in the future disabled persons should be independent, so that you will not be dependent on anybody to do anything for you. I am hoping there will be all the necessary gadgets to make life easier for people with disabilities. Also, I hope that things can change for the better, so I will not be using crutches, and I will be like any other person.
How do you define disability?
Disability is not inability. Whatever the able person can do, the disabled person can do. Disability is just a life misfortune. The only difference between the able one and the disabled one is that maybe you can run and I cannot run. But with the necessary gadgets, if I am able to get there, I will do the job much better than the able one. Disability should not be a barrier in life at all.