And how do I make ends meet except I start working, and how do I start working except I get my own shop, and how do I get my own shop except I get a capital to start? And who would I approach to help me with the capital? If the government is not coming in to support us with any capital to start our own business, you can even learn a trade and you just stay idle.
When I turned the age of ten, I became paralyzed. I had this condition at the age of ten years and I have lived with it until now. When my predicament began, I was sent to the hospital. I went through some diagnosis but nothing was really discovered. So in the end my parents realized that the hospital was not helping me so they resorted to a prayer meeting. I was sent to this fetish priest and herbalist. They tried their best to help me walk again but he gave me several concoctions to drink. I took several concoctions to my system believing that it will help me. But there was no improvement. So they smeared some on my skin, on my leg, they used several herbs but there was no improvement. And so they realized that I wasn’t responding to treatment so my parents took me from there and they brought me home. Since then, I have been left to my fate until now. So my parents decided that I should move on with my life because they think that it cannot change but life must go on.
My parents were very poor and they couldn’t continue my education. They couldn’t sponsor me because the cost of disability education was very high at that time and my parents couldn’t afford it. Because I couldn’t walk and they were supposed to help me with the taxi car or something that would be taking me to and fro from school. And they couldn’t afford it so they had to leave me to my fate so I was able to go, reach grade primary 6 and I had to drop out because there was no financial support coming from anywhere. My parents were poor so I quit school.
So what happened, in that process I found that man who impregnated me, is it because of financial constraints, because of economic hardship, that is why you find yourself a man. He promised to marry me. I have been through many many predicaments, many many problems as a result of my condition. In Ghana when you are physically challenged you are left to your fate. If your parents, your family are not able to support you, it’s like you are doomed. So my parents were poor, they couldn’t support me after I quit school and I wanted to learn a trade. So I was just there, so my uncle came in and decided to help me learn a trade. So he put me into a sewing apprenticeship and I started. So in the process of sewing apprenticeship I met this man who impregnated me. He promised to marry me and he promised putting up a store for me after my apprenticeship. So we started a relationship. When I got myself pregnant the man ran away. He absconded and left me to my fate. So with pregnancy I was still learning the sewing apprenticeship until I was able to graduate from it. But in the end I wasn’t able to establish my store because there was nobody to help me and I was pregnant as well so I had to remain home and then seek to my pregnancy until I gave birth. So when I gave birth it was my mom who was giving me a helping hand to take care of my child and myself. She helped me through all the ordeal, all the difficult times it was my mom who helped me through it.
There were a lot of discriminations. Even right from my village, where I was born. The people used to abuse me stigma and stuff. Even in this vicinity, in this community. It was just 3 days ago I had a grunt with a neighbor. Because she tried to like, abuse me with my condition and it was very sad. So a lot of discrimination. I never made friends. They didn’t want to befriend me. It was like always I had to keep myself indoors because nobody is ready to accept me. I am not acceptable in this community. They find me to be cursed. That is why they don’t really want to befriend me. I don’t make friends because they look down on me and look at me strangely and I don’t really understand why. So they don’t really regard me as a human in this community. The neighbors don’t really respect me. So it’s only my daughter who is my friend.
In general, what are the biggest barriers faced by persons with disabilities in Ghana?
Some of the barriers are stigma and discrimination. It doesn’t really make persons with disabilities progress in life. And financial constraints on the part of persons with disabilities because we are regarded as the poorest population in this country. Money is a very big barrier that prevents persons with disabilities to progress in life. And another one is stigma. Another one is discrimination. And because of discriminations you can’t even go out to find something to do for yourself. So discrimination is very high in this community and stigma is high in this community and in Ghana when it comes to disability because nobody wants to be your friend. So it makes work very difficult for persons with disabilities.
Our lives won’t improve unless we get financial support to start our own business. Because I, for instance, I’m a seamstress. And how do I make ends meet except I start working, and how do I start working except I get my own shop, and how do I get my own shop except I get a capital to start? And who would I approach to help me with the capital? If the government is not coming in to support us with any capital to start our own business, you can even learn a trade and you just stay idle. Because if you don’t have a shop, how do you start sewing? So I think that, if our life were to be improved, the government should come in with capital for us, for those who are artisans, to start something with this. And another one is that stigma should stop and discrimination should stop. And with that we will find ourselves at peace and we’ll feel at home, for with that our life can improve.
What helps you through difficult times?
My greatest strength is Christ Jesus. I gave myself to Christ and when I find myself in the church I am happy. It strengthens me. God, Jesus is my strength. And another strength is since I am able to gradually go to the shop and help a friend with the sewing activities, it is also one of my strengths because it keeps me going and it encourages me. Since I am able to walk gradually to the shop and come back, it’s my strength.
What advice would you share with another person with a disability that you think would help them?
I would tell the person to put all his or her trust in God because God is our strength. But I would also advise them to try as much as possible and learn some trade. They should try their hands on something to be able to make ends meet so they won’t go beg for alms.