And they were refusing to bring me back to my mother’s home, this place, because the whole place was occupied by family members so they said there’s no room for me. So I had to remain in my husband’s house. And this man continued to molest me, continued to abuse me, but yet my family rejected me. They refused bringing me back home.
I was born in this area, in Kaneshie, in this very house and was sent to school, to primary. At primary four, I was an athlete, participating in the school sporting activities. So one day in the process of running I fell. In the course of it I developed a big sore on my feet. That was the beginning of my war. In fact, it was a big blow to me and my family because I couldn’t continue my education. I had to remain in the house. So my daddy had to take me from one place to another seeking for help so that I could be on my feet again. We went to several places, we went to some scrupulous pastors, like bad pastors, fake pastors. We went to the hospital alright and they could not help me. I was turned to a fetish priest who performed several rituals, gave me several concoctions, but nothing happened. We went to a herbalist. My father spent so much, all his resources on me but it was to no avail. So I was lucky a certain white man came to this area and established a hospital, an acupuncture hospital, and I was sent to him. He was the only doctor who could help me be on my feet a little and heal my wounds for me. So after it I was able to continue my schooling.
With a little movement I was able to go through the primary. And I told my dad I am interested to learn sewing and crocheting. I was very much familiar with it. I was interested in it. So I was sent to a vocational school to start learning that. So by the time my daddy was financially handicapped so he couldn’t really continue because he had invested all that he had on me, on my condition. So when I started that school he was financially handicapped so I couldn’t continue. So it ended there. I had to quit school, the vocational, I couldn’t go through the finish, so I had to drop out because of financial constraints.
So when I quit school I became like a maid in the house. I was taking care of my sister’s children. So with my condition I was compelled to look after the children even though I couldn’t walk, but I was doing it. So one day, lo and behold, a certain gentleman came visited this very house. And I was here taking care of the kids, my sister’s kids, in this very house. So a gentleman entered to install a telephone – he was a telephone technician. And he saw me and he fell in love with me. So he decided to marry me and propose to me. That is where later he went away and came to see my parents and they performed the marriage ceremony. So he took me away.
When this man married me I had two children with him in this very house. And later I was transferred to my marital home and I had the other two there. So I had four children with my husband. So with my condition I was working. I was trading in multiple items. I was able to open with the help of my husband a grocery shop, which I was operating at that time. That is what I was doing to support my kids in school and my husband. And my husband was working in the government organization, that is a telecommunication firm, so he was also supporting the house with his salary and I was also helping him one way or another in spite of my disability. I was doing a lot.
As time went on I was living with my husband happily but later my husband was just beating me up. Sometimes he would just hit my head against the wall. He would hit me with a shoe. My teeth got broken because of him. This man started beating me up with no reason. With no explanation. I didn’t know. I had not offended him; I was working to support my husband and my kids. But it was just beating me just like that, somebody with a disability, just because he didn’t want me again. So I was compelled to move to my family house.
I suffered a lot of discrimination. My husband used to complain, give reports to my family, bad reports about me which were false. And my family believed him. So they were not really defending me. I felt like I was rejected so it was like they left me in the hands of my husband to kill me. And this man was beating me every day. Even though I remained loyal to him, I remained faithful to him, but he was just beating me with no reason. I didn’t understand and I didn’t know why. I had four kids with him; where do I go with the kids? So I had to endure the pain and still live with him. The children were very little so I had to keep mute even though he was beating me up so we can take care of the kids because I had nowhere to go. My family had rejected me so if I come with the kids nobody would support me with the kids. So I had to remain there and suffer. Even in pregnancy. He started beating me when I was pregnant with my lastborn. My husband was very bossy and it was like I was in dictatorship rule, a dictatorship marriage. He talked and I didn’t have to respond. I was pregnant and he was beating me throughout my pregnancy until I gave birth. So I was there with all my condition and it came to a point that he wasn’t taking proper care of me so I had to suffer and then lay my hands on something to do to support my kids.
My husband stopped giving me money and he stopped taking care of the kids. I couldn’t walk. My husband would eat and leave us. He would cook and eat and leave us. He didn’t give me money, he didn’t give the kids money. He stopped with responsibility entirely. So I had to force and then support myself and the kids. So it was like I was living in hell. My marriage was a total hell. It was the worst marriage I have ever seen in my life.
My husband had children before he got married to me. So I had step-children. And my husband expected me to conduct and direct the affairs in the house with the kids, like how to keep the place tidy, with sweeping and that. If I tried to instruct his children they would be abusing me, insulting me all over. And I couldn’t walk. I was sick, I couldn’t do anything. But he expected me to work with my condition, to take care of the kids myself, and also instruct the children to do other chores in the house, and also with my condition to be cooking for him as well. So I was under hell and in the worst dictatorship I have ever seen in my life, in my marriage. And I don’t know, maybe I got married to a devil incarnate and I don’t know how to even describe my husband.
So it was like for eight years I was confined in my husband’s house. I was sick and I couldn’t do anything. Apart from my disability I fell sick. I knew if I went to the hospital they would give me prescription. I’d be taking drugs, I’d be abusing my body with drugs because the pain was too severe to endure so I have to be taking painkillers. My sister used to visit me back then and the people, the neighbors in the community, would be complaining to my sister that they should come for me or my husband would kill me. And they were refusing to bring me back to my mother’s home, this place, because the whole place was occupied by family members so they said there’s no room for me. So I had to remain in my husband’s house. And this man continued to molest me, continued to abuse me, but yet my family rejected me. They refused bringing me back home. With my sickness my husband was still beating me. He wanted to kill me. By the grace of God that God has sustained me until this time.
They had rented the place. They had rented all the rooms and there was no room for me. My family had rented the rooms and instead of them to leave one for me they had rented all. There was no room for me. So I was like…I nearly died. I was fortunate some of the tenants moved out, after years they moved out, and the place became vacant so I had to move in here. My sister came for me. By then everything had gone bad. At the initial stage that they were supposed to come for me they didn’t, so by the time they came for me everything had deteriorated. My health had deteriorated. I had become bedridden and my children could not go to any proper school because I couldn’t take care of them and the man refused so I was taking care of them. When it got to a point that I couldn’t do anything anymore, it was like the children had to be compelled to work for themselves. They had to engage in menial jobs to take care of them because I couldn’t take care of them… at a very tender age they were working for people, doing menial jobs, fetching water for people. And they were working for people who could give them a little bit of money so they could take care of themselves. And they were able to save some money to continue their education themselves. I couldn’t help. I couldn’t do anything, so they had to start something on their own at a very tender age.
So when the situation has worsened, it was there that my family had to come for me. Because the place was vacant, they brought me here. And when I moved into this house I became bedridden. Nobody was taking care of me; they just dumped me here. My whole family had rejected me. So many discriminations on the part of my family and community. But what do I do? So it’s only one sister of mine who sometimes, when she has some money, she will just come and take me to the hospital. Just a month ago I was fortunate to be taken by her to the hospital. And it’s like they’re filling me with drugs. They did nothing for me. They just took money. And my sister paid for it. And I’ve been abusing my body with drugs. I’ve become a drug addict. Without drugs I cannot even stay for a bit. And I don’t know. Now I have abused my body, I have become a drug addict. And I don’t even take food into my system. No food because I don’t have money. So my sister, sometimes when she has it she comes. And my daughter. My daughter is married and sometimes… she did not get a good marriage so the husband is not able to support her.
And one neighbor who is a fitter, sometimes I ask him to help me with money for food. And sometimes, once in a while, he gives me a little, sometimes two cedis. One time he gave me twenty Ghana cedis for a whole month. I have to feed on twenty Ghana with that little girl and my daughter. My daughter is jobless. She has finished school and is looking for a job but it is not given to her. So it’s like she cannot work because she has to be with me. And taking care of me, how can she go and work? And I don’t have money to feed her, so she has to dump me and go and look for a job. So that is what is going on. It has become a routine job in this house. Each day I remain in the house and on the bed, from morning to the next day. Nobody to help me. I’m left alone. I’ve become a nuisance in the family. They want me dead.
So it’s like I’ve suffered a lot of discrimination and abuse, verbal abuse on the part of my family. They said I’ve become too huge. I look like an animal and nothing good could come out of me. So I have to die. What is my use in this house? Why am I still living? So it’s like verbal abuse, I mean, it’s uncomfortable. So they just put me into pain each day, every day. So that is what is going on with my life.
What are the biggest barriers for persons with disabilities in Ghana?
The biggest barrier is money and a job. That is really preventing persons with disabilities in Ghana to improve their life. Because I thinks that there is some fund that is allocated for persons with disabilities. At least if I’m able to access that fund every month, or maybe it’s quarterly, it can really improve something. But we are not receiving anything, nothing at all. And a job. No job for persons with disabilities. So if you find yourself in wicked hands, like the man I got married to, you are doomed.
In hard times like that, what gives you strength?
Apart from God, nothing. Nothing is my strength now because no family to look up to. I cannot look up to any. So no hope for me except God. I was able to even find myself in the church. And the church has rejected me. They used to give me transportation to and fro to go to church, but only once. I was able to go and they gave me money to come home, that’s all. Since I became bedridden, not a single day they have even visited me. I went and took the church as a family so that in case of any difficulty they can come and give help. But nothing, nobody has visited me. So it’s like from the east to the west, north and south, everybody has rejected me. So nothing do I look up to except God.
How do we improve the lives of persons with disabilities?
If you find yourself a job as a person with a disability, it can improve your life. If you have some capital working with like, in this very house, in front of the building, you can start some tabletop grocery store and people will come to buy and you can make some money to take care of yourself. You have a place to lay your head. Accommodations for persons with disabilities is one of the greatest barriers also. They sleep outside and stuff. If you have a place to lay your head it can really improve our lives.
What advice would you give another person with a disability?
I would advise the person, provided the person can work and is not bedridden like me, that everything will be done for you. I would encourage the person to start something with their hands, because if you start something to work for yourself, you can do whatever, buy whatever you want, and you can be happy with it. I would advise them, provided the person can work. But if the person cannot work like me and is bedridden, I would advise them that they should put their trust in God and pray to God. Someday God may send an angel to come in and help.
If you could have any job or own any business, what would you like to do?
I would start something like an electricity prepaid job because I used to trade in foodstuffs in my grocery shop. And because of my disability, people find me disgusting. So if I were to operate that business, people won’t want to come to buy from me because they find her very disgusting. They find me as a cursed person they don’t want to come close to so they wouldn’t patronize my business. But with the prepaid electricity, it’s not food. I would choose to do that in the house. I believe that being idle or sitting in one place, I can operate that. And with the help of my last-born. My last-born is jobless. I can also support her and operate that business. So that is what I have in mind if I would get the help to start it.
How do you define disability?
Disability is in stages. The one that is in an acute stage like my condition is a barrier. You cannot do anything physical, but at least you can do something because my brain works, so I can use my brain to work. Disability has a stage. But those that is not much severe, I think that it is not a barrier; you can work with it, you can do something with it, and something good can come out of it. If it is not severe, you can work, but even if it is severe you can still work with your brain. Disability does not have a full barrier, just a partial barrier, except that you are bedridden.