31. Sarah

Participant-36-Portrait

Some landlords don’t want to accept people with disabilities in the house – even if you have the money. I don’t know how people see the disability. Some people think it’s contagious or something. They won’t even take time to get to know what you’re going through. Once you’re a disabled, you’re a disabled, you’re out. Something should be done about it. They should implement laws. It’s their right. Once they have the money, they should be included.


My story started when I was little. They said I was six when it started. It started like a boil – something small, but as time went on, it started to go up. I was taken to a hospital. I was at 37 Military Hospital for seven years. Fourteen years total. It started affecting my leg – just the flesh. They tried so many things, medications, skin grafting. It got to somewhere that there was nothing they could do, so it happened that they had to amputate the leg. So they did, and I started using an artificial leg. I was assisted with a prosthetic by a disability group. I started using it in October 1987. Since then, that’s what I used.

I was discharged. My father said I had to go to school. I didn’t know what class I would fit. My father insisted that I go. I think I was sixteen or seventeen when I started school. They had teachers at Korle Bu, so I was able to pick something out of that. We had exams, and I was able to join those at Form 1. I completed Form 4, and then I went to secondary school.

Sometimes, you see that people don’t want to come close to you because of your disability. It makes you feel bad. Sometimes, you don’t feel like going to school. Because I had the support from home, if I didn’t want to go, my father told me I had to go. I have to forget about those people who didn’t like me. The teachers were okay.

I was the only one with a disability, but there were no staircases.

After secondary school, my father was old, so there was no support. So I learned a trade. I learned hairdressing. By then I had gone for the operation, and it was a little bit tiresome walking to where the shop was. I was not taking a car. I was walking.

I met my husband through a meeting – a Hope for Life meeting. We were dating. We decided to get married. Because he also had a disability, his family was okay with it.

We were staying in a rented house. They expected us to clean the bathroom and sweep the compound. It was my husband who mostly swept. I had to come into agreement with them about sweeping. We had to pay so somebody would be doing it.

The people in the house started murmuring about my disability, but we ignored it.  We act as if we don’t hear them, and they become used to it.

Do you have difficulty using a Tro-Tro?

The Tro-Tro is high in the air, so getting up is difficult. Sometimes, the Tro-Tro doesn’t have a step, so you have to struggle up. Sometimes, you don’t have anything to hold. It’s stressful. Even now it’s difficult to use Tro-Tro. One time I was coming out of a Tro-Tro when I was pregnant with my boy, the Tro-Tro moved before I was down, and I had no choice but to fall.

What do you think we should do to realize change?

I think we have to voice it out for people to know what we are going through. This Tro-Tro is not helping us. They should bring in buses that are accessible to us, to be able to join it easily, to make our going and coming in easily.

There was a Tro-Tro, I was trying to get up, and I hurt my ankle, and still I’m suffering. There needs to be a disability friendly bus. Even these public busses, they said they have a place for disabled, but if you enter, the whole place is full. It’s a staircase. They said they have a special seat for disabled, but I’ve never see it. And how do you enter? It’s not friendly at all.

How have you made friends?

This one, I schooled with her. We went to the same school. The other one lives in this area, we were friends in school too. I don’t keep many friends. I only keep the ones from the beginning. Sometimes, people don’t want to be friends with you.

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

The transport makes life very difficult for us. Even sometimes, the places you want to go, you think about transportation, and you just withdraw. Also – the way people look at you at social places. When you fall, people make fun of you. It doesn’t encourage you to go out.

What do you think we can change to help people with disabilities with their landlords?

Some landlords don’t want to accept people with disabilities in the house – even if you have the money. I don’t know how people see the disability. Some people think it’s contagious or something. They won’t even take time to get to know what you’re going through. Once you’re a disabled, you’re a disabled, you’re out. Something should be done about it. They should implement laws. It’s their right. Once they have the money, they should be included.

We need to draw their attention. It’s in the disability rights that every building should be accessible for disabled persons. If they’re not doing it, we need to raise awareness.

What advice would you give to a person with a disability?

It depends on what the person wants. There are some people who are down. Most of the persons with disabilities didn’t get the support from their parents. Mentally and physically, she is disabled. Such a person you have to have time, talk to the person, and let them know that disability is not a crime. You need to move on. These behaviors will pull you back. You have to forget about them and move on. Sometimes, people don’t even believe you have ability to do anything. By moving on, it’s difficult I know, sometimes the words you hear from people it kills your spirit, but you have to move on and do what you want to do and be who you want to be. That will make them know – disability is not inability. We have to make them know.

If you were in parliament, what would you do for persons with disability?

I think education is most important. Most of our people can’t do petty tradings. Once they have education, they can do everything.

Where do you see Ghana in twenty years?

I think there’s hope. Years ago, people didn’t want to see disabled people at all. We were kept in rooms in houses. It’s changing gradually. People are trying to come out and be who they want to be. Disability is not a curse. People need to be education about disability issues for them to know that disability is not a curse. It’s an accident. You can wake up one day and become a disability. We don’t buy disability with money. Nobody chooses to be a disabled. It can happen to anybody.


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