48. Belembe

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I would advise somebody with a disability to learn a trade, provided there is support. If there’s a support, he should make it a point to learn a trade, something for his or her own, and that can help him or her make ends meet.


I was thirteen years and I developed a guinea worm infection. It was swollen. One day I slept, I woke up, and I couldn’t walk again. It really became a big blow to me. Because as a woman like me, a lady from the age of thirteen years, and I couldn’t walk. It was very hard for me to even go through my education because I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t do anything proper for myself.

It’s like society rejected me and I was very young when it started. So this is the reason why I couldn’t really go to school. So as time went on my daddy tried to help me walking better again. He applied some herbs on me to help me walk again. He did his best but it was no avail.

When I turned the age of twenty five I decided village life was very difficult. I couldn’t work, there was no job for me, discrimination was high, and my parents couldn’t help me. My parents were very poor so they couldn’t support me. So I decided to migrate into Accra in search of a job. When I arrived in Accra I started with a yam business and I was helping a friend. This way I was getting something small to cater for myself. So as time went I realized that I’m a woman – I need to get some trade. So I had to learn something so I’d be able to cater for myself. I decided to learn sewing. I went to a certain church where I became a member. A member of that church supported me, assisted me, and put me into this sewing apprenticeship.

Since I started this sewing apprenticeship I’m not able to work again. Because I cannot combine working and learning a trade, so I have to choose one. Since I have chosen to become an apprentice in sewing, how do I make ends meet? My master, the one who is my employer who is supporting me little by little, at the end of the day gives me a little something for food.

This has undermined my self-esteem. It has also destroyed me emotionally. Because at my age, I’m here alone, no support from anybody. I was helping a friend to handle this yam business. I needed some capital to start something and I wasn’t getting it. It has affected me a lot. If I had been walking well or I’d been able to have enough strength, I would have been able to find something doing for myself, something proper for myself than to be dependent. Because currently I’m being dependent, and I don’t like it that. I want to do something on my own but what do I say, what do I do? I’m not getting anyone’s support. That’s why I have become a dependent. It really hurts me to become a dependent, so this condition has really affected me negatively.

At the end of twenty five years I’m supposed to be getting married. I’m supposed to have my own kids. I’m not married due to my disability. I don’t have a child due to my disability. I don’t have money to even work with due to my disability. For me, nothing has really made me happy in life. I don’t know, maybe, God willing, if I find somebody I love, that may make me happy. But since the man has not yet come, currently I’m not a happy woman.

What are the biggest barriers for persons with disabilities in Ghana?

The biggest barrier is finance. No capital to start something. And another barrier is my disability, the disability that hinders persons with disabilities to progress. And even with disability, if you have enough money to work with, you can still progress. So I think that disability is not a barrier, but the financial aspect can cripple a person. If persons with disabilities are empowered financially, we can improve our lives. Nothing can be a barrier to progress in life. As for our disability, it’s just a camouflage. You can really progress with a disability.

What can we do to improve the lives of persons with disabilities?

Financial empowerment can help persons with disabilities to improve their lives in Ghana.

If you meet another person with a disability, what would you tell them?

I would advise somebody with a disability to learn a trade, provided there is support. If there’s a support, he should make it a point to learn a trade, something for his or her own, and that can help him or her make ends meet.

What is your best ability?

My best ability is sewing.


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