When you wanted to greet someone, he thinks you are coming to beg him so he will not even stop and look at you. Because when you wanted to talk to someone, he doesn’t give you a chance to talk to him. Even when you’re lost and you want someone to direct you the way and you call “Hello, my man, can you help me?” he says “No”. Even to cross the road is a problem for us in Accra here.
My story began at the age of five. My father told me that at the age of five I started to be sick. In the Northern region we call it “sickness who pulls people”. It came on me. For that they sent me to the hospital. I could not even walk again until by two years’ time I started walking small small. My right hand and my right leg could not move proper. Because of that people did not guide me. Because of that I could not go to school. Our family didn’t have money so they said no – a disability person doesn’t go. They neglected me.
I did not find any difficulty in school – I know very well that I can go to school – but because of the disability the family doesn’t want to help me with money. They stopped taking care of me so I take care of myself and started doing small small small things. So I decided to travel to Accra here, maybe I’ll find some job to do. Because of the disability no one likes to employ me in any work. So I decided to help my brother. I’m helping my brother small small; on a daily basis he can give me something small to do and eat. That’s why I live here.
When you need directions from someone they think that you are coming to beg. If I say something, they would not take it. When you wanted to greet someone, he thinks you are coming to beg him so he will not even stop and look at you. Because when you wanted to talk to someone, he doesn’t give you a chance to talk to him. Even when you’re lost and you want someone to direct you the way and you call “Hello, my man, can you help me?” he says “No”. Even to cross the road is a problem for us in Accra here. Because when you see someone and say “Hello, how are you?” they think you are coming to beg him money. When I enter into the population they say “Oh stop here, my friend, do this, do this”. They don’t want to help us to even board a car. Your family even knows that you are always depending upon them and that’s why they will even not mind you. I’m feeling sad all the time because of the disability. They think that you are a beggar because of disability when you just see somebody. But not all of us are beggars.
Always I’m very sad in my life because these things ring in my ears that people don’t like us. And the government too doesn’t take care of us. They don’t mind us. Even to board a car. We have government cars in this town. When you are boarding a car to any place they will not even mind you because they know you have a disability; they will tell you to stand outside. Because of the disability and because of how people behave towards us, I’m not feeling happy.
What do you think is the biggest difficulty for persons with disabilities?
They don’t regard us at all. They don’t make us like human beings. You feel like you are something like animals or a different person altogether but we are the same people like them. But because of the disability they don’t want you even to come near them. When you sit in the car and you wanted to even come closer to them, like one seat, they don’t want you to come closer. I always think that people fear us. They don’t see us as human beings. The whole institution of Ghana, they look down upon us. That’s why one day I’ll tell somebody that my disability is not my mind; who is disability? Because I’m very very wise. I even taught some in school. I’ve invested in training college. And now because of disability I could not even continue.
How do we change the way people think about disability?
Disability is not a sickness, but it started from a sickness. I’m normal with this now. I’m not happy with how people behave towards us. I want the government to make an advert to tell people that they shouldn’t look down upon disabilities, that if they see us they should help us to cross the road, to board a car, to climb these bridges. They make bridges, overpass bridges. They are not made for us to pass. We can’t get a chance to pass there because there are steps there and because of my leg I can’t take the steps. So this would make a chance for us too. We are sick, not our mind is sick. We are normal human beings as they are.
What advice do you give others who have disabilities?
When I see them I tell them, God will even provide for all of us. So they shouldn’t go about begging. Most of the people with disabilities in Ghana, they go out to beg. That’s why they look down upon us. And I advise them, if you can do something yourself, if you can help somebody to even sell or do something, they’ll give you food to eat. So you shouldn’t go about begging. And I always pray for my fellow people with disabilities. I always pray for them. I teach them how to walk with God. I even go out and preach and tell people about God. If, when I’m talking about God, and they decide to give me some cash I say “No” and I don’t take it. If because of the gospel I’m saying you are giving me something I’ll say “No” but if I’m walking and you are giving me something, then I’ll take it. But if I’m teaching you about the gospel and you’re giving me something I refuse to take it.
What is your best ability?
My best ability – I can sell. And I used to help people, even shoe-making. I know how to do it, I help people to do it, I teach people to do it and I can do it. I’m the best shoemaker and I help people, and I can sell on my own too.