33. Esther


Nothing has been done. If anybody says that there has been any success in bettering the lives of people with disabilities, it’s zero. Even accessibility alone in the government buildings, even parliament house where the law was passed, that building is inaccessible. Despite all of the money that has been pushed in, it is zero.

At four years, when my predicament started, I was taken to the hospital but to no avail. My mommy tried her best and sent me to several churches for prayer to see if my problem could be solved. We tried and tried and tried, but nothing happened. Later, my daddy came in to help. That was when I was taken to the orthopedic hospital to have my surgery and was given crutches and calipers to walk. After that, my father helped me and put me into school, but I couldn’t continue. I dropped out at stage six. The reason I dropped out was because I had to be carried from home to school with the support of my friends or sisters.

Due to the nature of the work of my father, it was such that he would be transferred from one place to another. This stopped me from furthering my education. As soon as I reached one stage, he would transfer to another place and that affected my education. Later, my daddy traveled abroad, and my mommy was based in Nigeria, and I was sent to my Auntie to stay with her. My auntie was having four children before I joined her, so when I was there, though my daddy was sending money to cater for my education and upkeep, yet still, this woman received the money all right but she wasn’t helping me. She didn’t want to send me to school. She couldn’t allow me to be in school when her children weren’t in school, so she never sent me to school. So I had to drop out. After my daddy came, I had grown. I had passed the primary level. I was supposed to be in JSS by then. It hurt my daddy so much that I couldn’t be in school – despite all the money he sent down. He took me back to school and I joined my colleagues. I went through so much discrimination as a result of my disability. I was grown, and with mates, who I was far older than, and in addition, I had a disability. For that reason, it affected my schooling.

So I had to resort to learning a trade, a sewing apprenticeship. My teacher suggested since my peers had been ridiculing me, she suggested I do a sewing apprenticeship.

When I was staying with my auntie, she turned me into a maid even though she had four others. I was the only lady, so I was doing all of the household chores. She was a market woman. Every morning, she would leave for work, and I’d have to take care of all the household chores from washing to sweeping to cooking…everything. In spite of my disability, I was doing all of those things. I didn’t bother because I was in the training. Yet still, when I finished my apprenticeship, I did it at the rehabilitative center, I had to establish myself as a seamstress. However, due to the transference of my daddy, we had to be transferred, which affected me. It was like a merry-go-around. Anytime I would try to establish myself, my daddy would be transferred. In those days, I needed to polish myself on the apprenticeship. I wasn’t well versed in it, but I couldn’t because my daddy was transferred, and I had to quit school.

After the apprenticeship, I met a very good man, who died later. In the course of that, I was dating and got pregnant and had my first child. When he came, my daddy didn’t like the marriage because my daddy was entertaining the fear that he would dump me on the way, but later my daddy agreed. As time went on, eventually, the man died. After ten years, I met another man, who was in school by then, but since he was in school, we couldn’t marry. I was supporting him one way or another to go through his education. Eventually, when he graduated, he dumped me even though I had a child with him. As a graduate, there were better ladies out there – better than a disabled lady. Without even considering that I had contributed to his education, he dumped me and left.

I live with my family – my sibling and my father. It’s a self-contained house where people don’t see me normally. When I leave here, I leave at dawn. In that place, I don’t suffer discrimination. Where I was formally staying, I faced such things. It was an open space, and so everybody saw me around. My daddy used to take me around everywhere he went, and people would pass funny comments and look strangely. There’s so many things I went through that I shouldn’t have. I just put it behind me. All of this discrimination, I went through many of them in that area.

As for transportation, it’s something that is the war of every disabled person in Ghana. Looking at my condition, even though I walk with the crutches, I can normally join Tro-Tro. When I close from this place, I have to walk to the road-side. If I get there at five o’clock, I will have to stand for God knows how long before I could get even a taxi to get to a transit point to join a Tro-Tro. If I decide to get a Tro-Tro here, I wouldn’t get. Even if I manage to get to the point, even to join the Tro-Tro is difficult. Where I would have convenience is at the front with my crutches. If someone is already occupying the front, I have to go to the back. There was a time I got to the front, and a lady was already sitting in the front. The driver pleaded with the woman for her to go to the back. The lady said she was paying as much as I was paying, and so she would not move to the back. There was a time I was going to work, and I joined the back, and this lady I sat with, this lady was trying to isolate herself from me. She didn’t want me to touch her. She told me to place my crutches so that they wouldn’t touch her. The others in the car raised her voice on her. Transportation is something we go through a lot as a person with a disability. If you manage to join, nobody wants to help you in or sit by you. You have to manage yourself. The taxi is very exorbitant to afford.

What has been successful for making changes for disability rights? What has not been successful?

Nothing has been done. If anybody says that there has been any success in bettering the lives of people with disabilities, it’s zero. Even accessibility alone in the government buildings, even parliament house where the law was passed, that building is inaccessible. Despite all of the money that has been pushed in, it is zero.

Even in our marketplaces, as a lady like me, am I not entitled to go to the market? People will pass demeaning comments. Sometimes, even working with my disabled counterparts in the market. Some of them will pass funny markets. They would say you don’t deserve to come to this market. People like you are not invited to this place. Even in the marketplace, we hear demeaning and insulting statements that are disheartening.

Issues of the Common Fund are something I never want to talk about. It’s very annoying. I went to get the Common Fund. We had to travel about a mile to a hilly place, the building was not even disability friendly. We thought she would receive 1500 to establish something for sewing. After waiting for five or six hours, they dropped everything on the table, and distributed between us. They didn’t even share it to us equally. Some got more, and some got very little. It’s been three years since we received that 600.

Do you think there’s hope for people with disabilities in Ghana?


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