My name is Abena. I’m from the Northern part of Ghana in the Builsa South District.

Photographer: Christoph Ziegenhardt
Copyright: © 2014 CBR Sandema/CBM Australia

My name is Abena. I’m from the Northern part of Ghana in the Builsa South District.

I was 9 years old when polio attacked me. According to my mum, she said when the sickness attacked me I could not stand, so they took me to hospitals to solve the problem, but they couldn’t do it.

I realised that I could not walk. But I was serious to go to school because the children would go to school and come with their books and be reading. So I would crawl to school. Sometimes at the school the children were playing; jumping and I will be sitting down looking at them. I felt like I am alone. So I decided to stop the school. I said “this one is a waste.”

When I was young I had troubles going to the toilet because I could not walk. I had to crawl to the toilet, the bush. But I couldn’t squat because my legs were not strong, so sometimes I toilet on myself. Then they would be teasing me.

I was feeling like I’m not a human being. I felt frustrated and lonely.

But when I received the tricycle it was better, very good, because my hands were not touching the ground, my legs were not touching the ground. I was feeling clean.

I decided to go into trading, I used the small capital I had and bought some groundnut, biscuits, and I sell pure water. I will use the profit, and buy the things again I had. So I think this one is very good.

I am the Disabled Women’s Organiser for the Disabled Society in Builsa South District.

I’m telling people with disability, especially women, they shouldn’t think they are disabled because they cannot do anything. They can still do a lot. You can go to school. You can learn a work. You can get married. You can give birth, you’ll become somebody.

So because of that my fellow colleagues, some are now into hairdressing, dressmaking, some are going to school.

And I told able men “Disability is not inability. Disability is anybody’s lot. It can come to you at any time so don’t discriminate against us.”

I said include us in anything you are doing in this community, so that we’ll also be part of it. When you are choosing local assembly appointees, is better you choose disabled person too, so that they will be there, talking for their fellow person with disability.

Someone wearing the shoe knows very well how tight it is, how painful it is inside. But because you are not wearing the shoe, you can’t talk for me. So it is better you give us a chance to talk for ourselves.

When people call me cripple now I don’t feel anything. I feel like they are joking. I don’t feel like I’m disabled, I feel like an able person. I’m now happy.


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