75. Janet

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When I meet a fellow disabled person, which I have been doing always, I encourage him or her. Especially when I see the person in a mood of sorrow, I encourage him or her that he or she should think beyond disability and do whatever he or she is capable of doing. That is normally what I do.  


My story began just from infancy. My mother told me that when I was a baby she used to sell a locally-prepared food from cassava called yaka-yaka. When she was selling, the food, I was crying to eat some of the food. My mom, knowing that at that age I was not old enough to eat the food, gave me a small piece of the yaka-yaka. And as I was trying to swallow it I choked. I had to be taken to the hospital before I was revived, and the disability started from there.

Initially my mother had wanted to travel with me but my father did not agree that she should travel with me. But my mother insisted. It was during when she stayed outside with me that I fell sick of that choke. So my father said because she didn’t listen to him he will no longer to accept her. And because of that, my family too said because my mother did not listen to her husband they will also take the side of my father. So that was the rejection of my mother and me. It really affected me because due to my disability my father divorced my mother. Because of me. My relatives also rejected my mother and me because of my disability. So it’s only my mother who is looking after me. There’s no help. So in fact my disability has affected me socially. But I do not experience any difficulties with my peers; they even help me anytime I need their help, both financially and morally.

I should have started school earlier on but I did not have a wheelchair. I’m living in the outskirts of the village so before I would crawl to the school compound here. It was very tedious. So because of that I did not start school early, until I had access to a wheelchair. I cannot actually remember the year that I got the wheelchair because it’s far behind. But I can say that it’s been a tremendous help to me during my schooling and the learning of my trade, which is sewing, and right now I sit in my wheelchair when I do my sewing. So it’s helping me a lot. The only difficulty that I encountered with sewing was the financial support. Because you have to sign an agreement when you are going to learned the sewing, I found it difficult to get the money to sign the agreement, so that is the difficult aspect. But learning the job itself is not difficult.

The happiest day in my life is every Sunday when I go to church and I see the pastor preaching and I enjoy the music.

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

The problem I see generally is that Ghanaians don’t like supporting the disabled. When I bring it down to my local over here, we don’t have any support. There are people who have the means to support the disabled but they don’t do it. They frown on disability.

What can people in Ghana do to help those who have disabilities?

I think the government of Ghana should set a ministry purposely for disability issues so that when we have our problems we can send the problem to that ministry. It is there that NGOs like the Disability Needs Foundation, when you have your advocacy programs, you send it directly to this ministry. By so doing, we can get a positive response in a short time. Now, there is no ministry that is responsible solely for disability issues, so anytime we send our problems they just put it in their pocket.

What can the international community do?

I think the international community, to me, is doing a lot for Ghanaians. But it is only those officials in Ghana who are to implement what the international community is doing for the disabled.  They are not implementing it. So still I can say that they can support us by supplying these gadgets like wheelchairs, crutches, and all those disability-supporting gadgets, but the fact remains that when those items come, they should pass through the right channels so that those of us who need it will have access to it.

What do you usually say to another person who has a disability?

When I meet a fellow disabled person, which I have been doing always, I encourage him or her. Especially when I see the person in a mood of sorrow, I encourage him or her that he or she should think beyond disability and do whatever he or she is capable of doing. That is normally what I do.

What is your best ability?

I do everything. I do every house chore: I go to fetch water, I cook, I sweep, I wash – everything. But the best of all is my sewing.


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