6. Cecilia

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When I became encouraged and comforted, I decided to put up a building by myself. I did the foundation over there, but my mother contracted a stroke, so the money that I saved for the building was invested in my mother’s health. In spite of this, I am not discouraged or dismayed. I am still determined to put up that building.


I contracted measles when I was eight months old, and I was taken to the hospital and given an injection. In the course of it, I developed my disability. My mom tried to apply herbs to help me but it was to no avail. She took me to some pastors for prayers, but they prayed and prayed and nothing happened. Finally, one pastor advised my mom that she should relax. Even though what had happened to me could not be reversed, he thought I was still capable of doing something, so she brought me home.

At the age of fifteen, I decided to start doing something. There was no wheelchair around at that time, so I used to crawl. I started preparing doughnuts to sell. I woke up early each morning and brought out all of my cooking utensils. I would shave the cassava into dough, so I could mold it round into a doughnut. When I finished preparing the cassava dough, I would fry it on the roadside to attract a market. My problem was conveying my utensils to the roadside, so I had to hire somebody to help me carry my things. I would crawl to follow the person. When I got to the roadside, I would sit, light my fire, put the oil in the frying pan and start molding the cassava dough. I would fry the doughnuts one after another and then put them in a sieve. After that, I would again hire someone to carry the sieve to a table to showcase my product.

Because I am very lively, people would patronize my product. I had some antics to attract customers. I used to call out to customers, “They’re very sweet! They were prepared by me! Despite my disability, this is what I have done!” And customers would come and buy them. People found me interesting, the way I handled myself and the way I called customers.

I have been selling cassava doughnuts since that time. At the same time, I have been married, completed a sewing apprenticeship, and been able to give birth to four children. I was able to cater for my first child through junior high school. Now he is based in Nigeria with my sister and schooling to high school. The rest are still with me, and I am supporting their education. Even though I gave birth to four children, at a point in time, I became very sad and asked myself, “Why me? Why all this calamity? Why all this disability?” But I realized that the only option to sustain myself is to accept the word of God. That is my strength and my inspiration. It helped me realize my potential.

When I became encouraged and comforted, I decided to put up a building by myself. I did the foundation over there, but my mother contracted a stroke, so the money that I saved for the building was invested in my mother’s health. In spite of this, I am not discouraged or dismayed. I am still determined to put up that building. If God is willing, my mother will get out of the hospital, and I will still start saving money again.

How did you meet your husband?

I met my husband when I was selling cassava doughnuts. One morning, this gentleman was passing by, and he saw me. The way I was calling customers and the way I was so determined fascinated this gentleman, and he asked me my name. He then asked me if I was married and said that if I was not married, he was interested.

When my husband proposed to me, I complained to him, “I am a person with a disability. Do you still like me?” The guy said, “If you are a disabled person, it doesn’t push me away. It doesn’t discourage me. I still want to marry you. What do you say? Yes or no?” I continued asking him, “Are you really sure you want to marry me? Are you not just going to have a sexual affair with me and dump me?” He said no. I insisted that the man meet my parents, and he agreed. After one month, the guy was ready to meet my parents. My parents were very happy to meet him and said it had been disturbing them for some time – whether somebody would want their daughter for marriage. They interrogated the gentleman, and they realized that he was serious. The gentleman told my family that he needed to put certain things together in terms of financial aspects before he performed the marriage rites. After one year, he came and performed the marriage ceremony in this very house.

What was the happiest moment in your life so far?

My happiest moment was the day I got married, and I realized that I had a partner.

If a person with a disability comes to you for advice, what do you say?

The person should not feel that he is worthless. He should understand that he has ability. People with disabilities are not worthless. They are very useful in society.


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