BEING PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED DOESN’T MEAN YOU CAN’T.
People with disabilities can face multiple forms of exclusion, often limiting their participation in their community. It can also mean they don’t go to school or that they aren’t given the support that they need. Ignorance or a lack of resources, sometimes both, is a real issue; of equal concern is the drive to ensure quality education for children with disabilities. Globally, 150 million people live with disabilities; and People with disabilities are 10 times less likely to go to school than those without disabilities.
In statistics, People with disabilities in the developing world are much more likely to be out-of-school, with an estimated 10% attending and just 5% of these completing primary school.
Living with A Disability
Persons with disabilities are frequently not considered potential members of the workforce. Perception, fear, myth and prejudice continue to limit understanding and acceptance of disability in workplaces everywhere. Myths abound, including that persons with disabilities are unable to work and that accommodating a person with a disability in the workplace is expensive. Contrary to these notions, many companies have found that persons with disabilities are more than capable. From the statistics on unemployment rate in developing countries, 80% to 90% of persons with disabilities of working age are unemployed, whereas in industrialized countries the figure is between 50% and 70%.
I believe that everyone should have access to quality education and employment, independent of their circumstance. We know that disability is not inability. This is my story:
Being Physically Challenged
I developed polio at the age of 3 years. That is what I came to understand later, which means one of my legs is shorter than the other. As I grew up the society made fun of me. Some say that I will never make in life due to the way I was walking, some say that my disability was caused by a family curse and some say that it was God’s punishment and many other things. As I grew up I usually see my elder sister going to school. I began developing the interest of going to school and before long I was admitted to the nearest public primary school where I studied till grade 8. Knowing that being physically challenged doesn’t mean I can’t, I passed my exams.
It was then that my parents saw I can and I graduated to high school. It was in high school when I got support though it was not a special school. I began participating in games and other school activities. I did my Form 4 exams and passed. I graduated from University and after fours year I got my degree in Computer Science. I realized that the Learning Institution is not just a place of learning, but it’s much more than that. It’s a network of support and a catalyst for success, academic and social; further, it’s an arena to positively challenge, influence, and change the attitudes and beliefs that we hold about ourselves and others.
Facing the Challenges
The challenges faced came after graduating from university. As a disabled person looking for employment, I really faced many challenges in getting a job. You can apply for a job and called for interviews, but your happiness ceased after the interviews because you can be judged from the point of the disability even if you are qualified. I remember one day when I was desperately looking for a job and called for an interview on marketing. I think the interviewer had not read my CV, the part indicating my disability. I came out of the interview very disappointed due to the fact that they told me blatantly I wouldn’t qualify because of my disability. What a disappointment it was!
I refused to be defined by my disability. I wanted to live like anyone else without a disability. I was seeing beyond my disability as it goes disability is not inability.
The Sun Always Shines
It was not until that one day when the sun “shone on me” as they put in our village that I received a call from Stepwise Impact Sourcing Limited saying “I got a job!”. This was my turn around the call. I saw my life changed instantly. It was at this company where my dreams of living like other people fulfilled. It was at this company where my dreams of being independent fulfilled and much more. I can now access more information which people living with disabilities rarely do. Unlike other companies and society with different attitudes over people with disabilities, Stepwise Impact Sourcing Company has full knowledge and right attitudes towards people living with disabilities.
I have seen a lot over 28 years as someone living with a disability. I have seen many of the barriers and attitudes people living with disabilities persist. But I have also seen many positive changes to get people living with disabilities physically active. Some of them include; creating awareness programs to educate people living with disabilities to know their rights as a person living with disabilities, educating the society to understand that people with disability are able and can make in life like any other normal person, creating channels of information which can be accessed by people with disabilities.
I can say “Let’s not accept the world to revolve around us as physically challenged persons. We have to adapt, let’s just make it so that we can adapt”.