To the Principal of Girls’ Secondary School, Orlu, there was no justification for my ambition. It was abnormal; she vehemently refused me admission regardless of my academic score. “This disabled girl has no place here, take her to Cheshire Home where disabled children are kept”. I was demoralized. I began to feel different, probably inferior to other children who gained acceptance. I wondered why I should be disabled, “was I created by the same God?” I questioned the essence of my being. Several questions ran in my mind, I was in pains, unhappy and felt dejected. I lost confidence, felt unwanted, unloved. “The whole world do not want me, if that is the case there’s no reason to continue living”, this and several thoughts flashed in my mind. I could not think of any solution, I was only ten years. I wept for hours, for days, for weeks, yet no hope in view. I was sick and tired. I could not talk. I lost appetite and went on hunger strike!
Why should persons with disabilities be perceived as ‘good for nothing’? Why should societies isolate them? As long as they are subjected to live in isolation, education opportunities for children with disabilities are limited by admissions discrimination, child preference, stigmatization, segregation, lack of finance, inaccessible transportation. We must address these.
My mother wept helplessly on learning about the Principal’s attitude. She was a widow, an illiterate, yet an angel. To her, western education was the only hope for my personal empowerment and tool to progress hence she refused to yield to the rejection. She was determined to fight the battle, a single battle that could ensure her child’s happiness, protection and sense of belonging. “I will sacrifice my life to ensure your progress, your pain doubled my pains”, were her words to me one day after calling me several pet names and won my attention. She encouraged me. She had approached another person to take us to the Principal. She promised to confront the Principal should she stigmatize me in her presence. She reassured me that I must go to school, that she would always stand by me. She would always come to visit me in the boarding house.
My third journey to Girls Secondary School Orlu yielded fruits. The Principal did not repeat those words. I was admitted into the school second month into the academic term. My mother paid the fees and I was offered an accommodation. My mother was allowed to visit me every Sunday.