30. Michael

Participant-35-Portrait

I have great passion for shoemaking. I just don’t have the necessary tools to mold complete shoes, so for now, I’m just repairing. I could manufacture the shoe. I was born with it. It’s in me. Even the pattern, I don’t have to study. It just comes to me like a picture. It’s in me.


I grew up as an orphan. I grew up in the Osu Orphanage Home. That is where I grew up. I happened to be in this place – Madina – because one white man brought me here who to live with one woman in this area. I was a foster child to this woman until the white man helped me to go through my operation in Koforudia. From there, I was brought to Nsawam Orthopaedic to learn to make shoes. Through my childhood up until that time, I was twenty years old when I was sent to learn this shoemaking. After I went through this apprenticeship, I graduated, that white man from Holland, he built this small kiosk that I’m currently working at. Throughout my life, the job I’ve been doing is shoemaking.

Since I’m an orphan, I don’t have any relatives. I live with this foster mother and her children, but currently, she has gotten married to a man, and so she’s not here. I live with her children in the house, and I’m doing this job as a cobbler.

I don’t suffer any discrimination with those who I live with, in this community, or those who I live with. I’m a very quiet person, so I don’t make friends. If anyone says anything against me, I don’t really hear it. I don’t draw my attention to that. From my house to the workplace, my challenge is my work now. As a cobbler, there is competition. If you don’t upgrade your shop to a standard, you don’t get customers. Sometimes, I come home with an empty pocket. When I don’t get any money, those I live with give me some small money.

I’ve never had any encounter with a woman. Even if I’m interested, I think no lady would like to marry a cobbler and someone with a condition. I wouldn’t even attempt to do it.

In school, there was no barrier because I used to play with my friends and all that. I was open to them. They came to me.

I was however always late to school, and they would flog me. Because of my lateness, I was academically late. I was late because of my disability. I couldn’t get to school on time. There was no car, so I had to take my time to get to school. The teachers would beat me.

If a person with a disability comes to you for advice, what do you say?

I would tell the person that there’s hope in life. Someday, it will be well. You should put your disability behind him, and do something.

I have great passion for shoemaking. I just don’t have the necessary tools to mold complete shoes, so for now, I’m just repairing. I could manufacture the shoe. I was born with it. It’s in me. Even the pattern, I don’t have to study. It just comes to me like a picture. It’s in me.

I want to own a big factory, to be able to be an entrepreneur to manufacture shoes and employ my fellow disabled and export locally and internationally. That is my dream for the next ten years.

Do you have any fears?

My worry is my job because even with my ability, I have passion and I’m talented, but occupying such a small place is worrying. My fear is that I will get sick and not come to work. I want to be at work everyday. I don’t want to be at home.

Where do you see Ghana in twenty years?

In twenty years, I don’t think Ghana will be better – even for persons with disability. No – I don’t think it will be in twenty years time.

What do you think is the biggest challenge for people with disabilities?

The biggest challenge is transportation for persons with disabilities. Some people see me as a mad person. When I go to the car, it affects other disabled counterparts as well, they shy away from us. They ignore you. They feel you are coming to beg for alms. It’s a common thing for disabled persons in Ghana. There has to be a change.

What makes you angry?

My male counterparts used to ridicule me, and that made me fight them. I used to fight them, and I would win. I would beat them. That’s what gets me angry.

When are you the happiest?

To be at work and to get more customers every day.

Do you think persons with disabilities in Ghana are respected?

No – they are not. Due to our disabled counterparts who beg for alms, there’s a perception that every disabled person is a beggar. That’s why we’re not regarded in society. If we’re financially empowered, then we’ll be respected in society.


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