24. Ethel

Participant-29-Portrait

My hope for myself is to be independent. I have been dependent for so long. Secondly, for my counterparts in Ghana, I want to eradicate this street begging. I see so much potential in us. I am hoping that there should be an accessibility for persons with disabilities in public places – even if you’re educated and you can be employed in the public institutions, all of the companies are not accessible. Being accepted to work is one difficult thing. Having access to the place is another. 


I was just one and a half years when I was playing with kids outside when I twisted my leg. I was rushed to the hospital, and I stayed in the hospital for four years. My first operation was done on my left leg. Then, the second one – at the Roman Catholic hospital in Nsawam, I did two surgeries on both legs to see if I would be able to walk or stand.

The first operation wasn’t successful. The surgery was very bad, and he spoiled my leg. When I was taken to the second hospital, they said that he did the wrong surgery all together. It was just a twisted leg, and he made the whole thing worse. They did a third and fourth operation over there. I stayed there for one year before I came to Nsawam for the calipers. That is where they used to manufacture the calipers.

After the surgery, I went to the orthopedic hospital, and they did not give me calipers. They said I had strength in the legs. They only gave me something to support me. It’s a bandage – a strong one. I used to wrap my legs, and then we tied it. Unfortunately, my place is very bad where I’m living in Alajo, an area in Accra where the whole place floods. So it rained one day, and it carried that device away. Since that day, I haven’t had anything to support me with walking. I went back to Nsawam for another surgery. They said I should report again for another surgery. I went, and we were told that my doctor had traveled abroad, so they couldn’t perform the operation on me and they couldn’t give me any calipers.

When the doctor was away, it came to a point that I couldn’t get anything to help me walk – not even crutches. I had to remain home. My parents did not know what to do with me. They had no idea what was really wrong, and they didn’t have the gadgets to really help me. I only resulted to prayers. That was the only option I had. I could just pray to God for help that I would be able to be on my feet.

I was abused. There was so much verbal abuse. I was living in a public house, that is a rental house owned by one landlord, and I was staying there with several tenets. I went through several verbal abuses. They passed funny comments about me. Even at the bath-house, since we all used the same bath-house, they said I always washed sickness in the bath-house, so if I used it, I was in trouble. They don’t want such people to use the bath-house if other tenants also use it.

Another discrimination – I wanted to learn sewing, but the proprietor said point-blank to me, “We don’t want such people here. People with disabilities are not allowed to learn a trade here. I can’t accept you.”

There was a time when I was trying to join the public transport, and you’re not even allowed to get close to other passengers. Even if your skin touches someone’s body, you’re in trouble. We were insulted bitterly in a car. I accidentally scratched one passenger, and it was hell in the car.

I have suffered verbal abuse and discrimination among my peers, among my tenants, among my community. People disliked me, and I didn’t know why. I am someone who is reserved. I don’t really make friends, but yet still, I had enemies. I didn’t know why.

I was able to go up to class three because the school was a new school, and the proprietor needed new students. So anytime the proprietor saw me as a kid, he would speak English to me, and I would respond. As a result of that, he developed interest in me – that I might be a brilliant girl, so he told my parents to bring me to school.

I dropped out because didn’t have any means of going to school. I didn’t have a wheelchair or crutches. And there was nobody to carry me. My mom couldn’t carry me. She was sick at the time. That was why I dropped out.

What are your abilities? What do you like to do?

My ability is sewing. I’m very good at that. I started in Awoshie. We moved here due to all the discrimination I went through there. I had to leave there and quit the apprenticeship, so I couldn’t complete.

One of my abilities is also to operate a grocery shop. Also – my hope is to go to school. For now, I want to be in the adult education class where I can learn how to read.

How did you get your apprenticeship?

We were in the same church as the master. In the course of that, she accepted me. I went through some sort of discrimination over there too. Even though the woman was a church member, she didn’t really like me. Because we were in the same church, the pastor came in on my behalf and she accepted me, and I learned for that time.

What is the most difficult experience you’ve had as a result of your disability?

One of my difficult moments in life is when I went through these surgeries – four times and nothing good came out of it. It has resulted in me being in that situation. When I remember, it hurts me so much. That is my difficult moment in life.

What is your happiest moment in life?

I’m a singer. I used to sing at Church. Anytime I sing and see the crowd, it is a time of happiness.

If a person with a disability were to come to you for advice, what advice would you give?

I have so much potential and ability in me. I can sweep this place by myself. I can do so many things by myself even in my disability. So if someone in the same condition comes to me for advice, I would say that he or she should persevere and encourage themself. Disability as you see it is not really disability. You can do anything you want to do. The person should have hope and confidence in himself.

(D) What is your hope for your own life and for people with disabilities in Ghana?

My hope for myself is to be independent. I have been dependent for so long. Secondly, for my counterparts in Ghana, I want to eradicate this street begging. I see so much potential in us. I am hoping that there should be an accessibility for persons with disabilities in public places – even if you’re educated and you can be employed in the public institutions, all of the companies are not accessible. Being accepted to work is one difficult thing. Having access to the place is another.


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