‘I am taking this cow instead of my daughter because the cow is important to me. It will produce milk and could fetch some tidy sum if I ever decide to sell it. My daughter in her crippled condition is of no use to me; she will instead prove to be more of a burden and I have to get away from here fast’. These words paraphrased, were spoke by one father in a war torn country concerning his physically challenged daughter. I don’t want to use the word handicapped here. I came across these words a few years back while researching on people with disabilities. For some reason, the words stuck with me.
Another one had this to say, ‘She is a disgrace to our family that is why we have to hide her away’ and guessed where she was hidden? In a dry well for over a long period of time until she was rescued. Sometimes, food was lowered down to her like an animal.
These two scenarios are common enough occurrences towards disabled and physically challenged people. Many erroneously hold the view that a special needs child apart from being a witch or wizard, is a huge burden to the family. Unfortunately, our society has very limited and often times, a total lack of amenities to assist people who find themselves in such situations. As if having this challenge to deal with is not enough, some have to cope with the sometimes indifferent attitude of their family towards their plight.
Being a woman in the world at large and in Africa in particular is hard enough. Being a physically challenged or disabled woman is doubly hard. Add being sick to the equation and you find triple trouble… wahala… as some could say.
Fortunately, I am blessed with a family who see pass my health and hearing limitations to see potentials and cheer me all the way. As I journey through life, I am equally blessed to have friends who like my family, see potentials were others see stumbling blocks joining the cheering team to push me forward.
Others have not been that fortunate. I have seen many wallow in self pity, left to waste away by family because of the situations they found themselves in which they had no part in the turn out of the affairs.
As a warrior, some situations are hard enough. But being a female warrior and one who probably due to some side effects from constant medications became hearing impaired is out right difficult. Many an opportunity has slipped away due to this. Thanks to my family, their believe in me helped me develop confidence in my abilities despite the seeming endless battles I have to face. This confidence has helped me to always have a plan B in the event that plan A fails. This confidence is what has made me able to write something about this today. And this confidence is what has made it possible to be proud to be sick, hearing impaired and a woman.
But wait a minute!
There is no pride in being sick, constantly pumping yourself with medications to stay alive. There is no pride in dealing with people’s insensitive comments like ‘half die’ and having to cope with pitying looks.
There is no pride in missing out on a conversation and being referred to as ‘mumu’.
There is absolutely no pride in feeling you are worthless because that is what society in general which may even include your close ones, make you feel simply because you are a physically challenged woman.
There is however pride in defying the odds and proving disabled doesn’t mean a lack of ability. There is pride in empowering others.
On this I say though I am a warrior, a hearing impaired one and a woman at that, I take pride in who I am. My situation has a lot to do with the woman I am today. It not only made me empathetic and sensitive towards others, it made me daring enough to defy the odds again and again and so yes, I am sick, hearing impaired, a woman but proud.
Be proud of who you are. You don’t have a thing to do with your circumstances except deal with it the best way you can therefore, you owe no one an apology.
I am always inspired by your comments. Please do share and drop a line.
ARREY E. AGBOR-NDAKAW.