Even if, when we are dead and they are carrying your corpse to the grave site, disability can happen on the way before they drop your corpse into the grave. So disability is something that is beyond humans’ control.
In 2003 I was coming from work when I felt dizzy, and then one side of my body began to paralyze. My happiest experience was when I was under apprenticeship, when I was learning a trade. And then when I completed, I started working. That was my happiest experience, but ever since I had this illness and became a disabled person, I don’t feel happy anymore. When I was not ill, people employed me to work. People gave me a lot of work. Since I became a disabled person, I have lost big contracts. The big work that I sometimes get to do, since I became a disabled person people don’t have trust in me so they don’t give me those jobs. They don’t believe that I can work perfectly again.
But to me, the skill I have is still in my brain, so I know if they give it to me I can do it. So now the only work I’m able to do is repairing electric irons and blenders and some other cooking utensils and electric appliances. That’s the only job that comes to me now in the house. I work and then get something small for my daily bread. Only those who believe in me, only those who I have worked for who know I can work, they once in a while bring work to me. I have an apprentice who comes to me, so when I get work like this I take him along and he helps me do the work.
The Catholic church, the Roman father, they helped and supported me when I was ill. They supplied this gadget [for my arm]. And my relationship with family and friends is cordial, as it were. Even as I’m talking to you now, there are some of my family members who are residing with me and I am caring for them.
Does your disability affect your ability to take transportation?
Anytime I want to take public transport, I have to take my time and be very extra careful before I board a car. If not, I will not be able to enter the car or I will hurt myself.
How do you define disability?
I will talk for myself. Previously I could climb the electric pole and work on it. Previously I could use my two hands to work. But today I cannot. So over here I am disabled. I have been affected by disability. And nobody is beyond disability. Anytime at all it can happen. It may be either through accident, through sickness, or anything. Even if, when we are dead and they are carrying your corpse to the grave site, disability can happen on the way before they drop your corpse into the grave. So disability is something that is beyond humans’ control. If any part of your body cannot function well, then you are a disabled person.
What is the biggest barrier for someone who has a disability?
The biggest challenge of persons with disabilities in Ghana is that people don’t believe that they can work and people don’t want to give them jobs to do. So they are forced to go to the roadside and beg for alms. Though some of them are capable of working, because they are not equipped they are at the roadside begging.
What can Ghanaians do to improve the lives of persons with disabilities?
I think those who are in a position, those who have money, those who can do something, should come together and mobilize resources to support the district assembly. The small money that comes for persons with disabilities, add to it, and use it to support persons with disabilities, for them to establish themselves, and maybe sell in small small kiosks, rather than them going to the roadside to beg. I think if they do that, then persons with disabilities will also feel at home and be independent.
What can people internationally do?
I think there are benevolent people outside there. And the international communities should find a way of identifying people who are in need, persons with disabilities who are in need, so that those who are over there and have alms that they want to bring to come and help us, they should do it in a form that they organize themselves and then identify those groups who are in need, and then come and help them in Africa.
If you meet another person with a disability, what would you tell them?
I will only encourage the person, that his or hers is not the worst. There are others, that when he or she sees them, they realize that those are worse. So we should keep to what he is and what he has and to do well.
What is your best ability?
If I want to, my best ability is to establish a station cord, like where you plug the electrical gadgets on it. There is a local one that they build on a board that you can connect other appliances to it. I don’t have one arm, but that one I can do alone, without any other support.