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Nothing about Us without Us

The Nigerian society has evolved, although our laws, social amenities/structure and attitude do not really promote and encourage an inclusive society for everyone including marginalized populations.

There are laws that are supposed to address some of the problems disabled people face in Nigeria – but how well are they being enacted?

Do these laws truly reflect the wishes and dire needs of a woman who would love to work in a bank and is in fact qualified to work in the banking industry but can only move about on a wheelchair? Or the boy who walks with the aid of clutches and cannot go to school without being carried because the pedestrian bridge was not designed to accommodate clutches? What about the man who although has visual impairment wants to enjoy some personal freedom and dignity which involves being able to take a walk or go to work without a human guide? And what of the girl who cannot go up a flight of 7 stairs to receive classes in the university because she has severe respiratory difficulties and there is no elevator in the building?

The design and conceptualisation of services and amenities in Nigeria has demonstrated serious inconsiderateness to vulnerable and disabled people with the obvious consequence of their disenfranchisement and ostracization from mainstream society.

For example many government hospital and multinational corporations’ office buildings, public parks and recreational centres have no lifts, disabled parking spaces, disabled toilets, hearing loop or braille leaflets or automatic sliding doors. Public transportations facilities and ATM Machines have not taken into consideration the needs and vulnerabilities of people living with mobility difficulties, visual and hearing impairments.

The stigmatisation, ostracization, abuse and exploitation of disabled people must stop. Their talents and abilities should be sought and invited and valued and celebrated. Their rights must be respected and upheld at all times. They are first of all people and serve to be enabled to carry on a reasonably independent life like is evident in the developed world.

Becoming a correspondent for Voices of Our Future is an opportunity for me to better myself personally and professionally - enabling me do a better job as a gender and disability rights advocate. I will also get a chance to connect and work with persons in whose footstep I have walked with so much admiration thanks to the vision – mentoring program.

Secondly, being a Correspondent for Voices of our Future will afford me the unrivalled opportunity to draw the attention of the Nigerian government, public and private corporations, and the larger civil society to these issues, get support from the online community, push these issues through the legislative arm of the government until old laws are revised or new laws are made to this effect.

Lastly, as a Correspondent for Voices of our Future, I will have the privilege of sharing the challenges I face living, working and schooling with a disability and how it has changed my world views and expectations of others; I will be able to give voice to stories of other women; encourage yet others to speak out and document stories of sexual, psychological, emotional and physical abuse, exploitation and torture of persons especially women and girls because of their disabilities with the aim of changing people’s view and attitude towards them. This is a story worth telling!

I have a story to tell – a story of rejection, anger, depression, deep sadness, struggles, disappointments, forgone alternatives, weaknesses, trial and error, prejudice, persistence, hope, strength, resilience and victory. Yes! I have a story to tell; it is my story but it is also a story every woman, man, girl, boy, disabled or not – every one of us can relate with because though we have different coping capabilities; we hurt just the same as everyone else. We often experience denial, anger, bargaining and sometimes acceptance when something tragic happens to us; becoming a Correspondent for Voices of Our Future will enable me tell that story.

Comments

Stacey Rozen's picture

Go for it!

You've highlighted the humanity of us all - differently abled... not disabled. Your voice is rising for an inclusive world. I'm so proud to know you, Vweta!

Creatively,
Stacey

Vweta's picture

Always Grateful!

Thank you so much. I am honored to have met you here.

Best wishes,

Our Voices make the WORLD PULSate...
Vweta.

loretta's picture

Disabled....just a noun.

Beautifully written, it takes one who is otherwise impaired to pour out their heart this way.

I have never learnt to deal with people with disabilities, I shy away from them. My fear, they will see the pain in my eyes and the pity and I know how much that would hurt them. Whenever I feel something for a person, it's from the bottom of my heart, I carry my heart on my sleeve too much.

I only get to interact with some, if I am backed into a corner. Your posts ha truly changed me, I would really like to say so, but haven't put that into practise as yet. I now know how they feel. Actually that's what I have known all along, but most people carry so much anger and don't hesitate to show it. They are so vulnerable and what they don't understand is that, some of us abled people also have our vulnerabilities.

I wish you success in your endeavour to improve conditions for the people with disabibilities in your country. God bless you.

Loretta.

A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others throw at her. Author Unkown.

Vweta's picture

Dear dear Loretta,

I enjoyed reading your comment and I want to let you know that its ok to feel that way towards persons with disabilities.
I sometimes act awkwardly when I met someone who's disability is more pronounced than mine.
Most of us do not want sympathy as you said - we just want to be able to things ourselves; in dignity, this gives us a sense of fulfilment.

Thank you again and I wish you only the best in all you do.

Love,

Our Voices make the WORLD PULSate...
Vweta.

loretta's picture

:D

Thank you for understanding, I know how difficult it is seeing someone who in every sense just like you do things for themselves, that you find limitations to doing. It hurts very much and has made other people to develop an attitude, if only both the abled and the disabled could find common ground and be able to understand each others feelings and work together to making this a better world for each other.

We each have something to offer one another.

Love you lots sis, stay blessed.

Loretta.

A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks others throw at her. Author Unkown.

Klaudia Mexico's picture

Enabling human beings

Dear Vweta

As I have shared with you, I´m also advocating for the betterment of people with disabilities' lifes. As I was reading your article I thought it could perfectly fit for any other Latin American reality. Therefore, we need to advocate for the universal acces to education and health in the first place. Laws can be changed and be the best on paper, but if people are not aware of their rights; those laws will keep dead words.
I wish you all the weall in your life endeavors,
At your services!!
Klaudia

Klaudia González

Vweta's picture

You know i really agree with

You know i really agree with you Klaudia.

Laws may be changed, situations may change, infrastructures may be put in place to enable us but unless we are sensitized and are indeed willing to use these available resources, they may all be useless.

Thank you Klaudia!

Our Voices make the WORLD PULSate...
Vweta.

Titilope's picture

Though your story is in your

Though your story is in your voice and physically your voice is not so loud but i know that VOF is what you need to amplify your voice and become a loud speaker for people living with disabilities. VOF will help you to do more than what your physical voice may not be able to do now.
I will employ you to start engaging the Lagos state special peoples Law, I work with a network of people living with disability who are workig with Lagos state house of assembly to ensure a smooth implementation of the Law. All the concerns you raised here are been addressed . The Law gave a moratorium of 5 years to make changes in our infrastructure and systems for the benefit of PWD and this process is on course.
In a few weeks time, i wlll be working with Blind youths on how they can better advocate for their rights and work with other mainstream CSOs on this.
Let us talk more on this latter. I wish you the very best in all your endeavours

Vweta's picture

Thank you so so much

Thank you so so much Titilope.

I will follow up on you with regards to this issue.

Been an honor knowing you.

Our Voices make the WORLD PULSate...
Vweta.

AbbyBrown's picture

Powerful Voice

You have such a powerful voice! I can hear your passion for your work and know that you are advocating for those who cannot advocate for themselves. Thank you for sharing your story and your passion. It is inspiring.

Vweta's picture

Thank you AbbyBrown. Your

Thank you AbbyBrown.

Your support and vote of confidence means so much to me - more than words may ever be able to convey.

Best Wishes,

Our Voices make the WORLD PULSate...
Vweta.

Catsilveira's picture

Best of luck to you!

Dear Vweta,

It was very interesting to learn how your country deals with building environmental that work for the disabled.

More importantly, I really liked the reasons you gave for wanting to be a VOF. Whenener you fell like writing about it, I think it would be very interesting to read about the challenges that your disability (or/and of others) brings to work personal and work life. So many of us don't even grasp what those are: like the ATM example you gave.

Last but not least, what a powerful last paragraph! You wrote: “though we have different coping capabilities; we hurt just the same as everyone else”. So true, what we need is to write the stories that touches people`s hearts.

best,

Catarina

Vweta's picture

Thank you

Thank you Catsilveira!

Apologies for just responding to your comments which i found very delightful. I would also like to add that i appreciate your suggestion about me or and others writing about living with a disability.
Truth is i always wanted to but i find it difficult to begin as the challenges may be better expressed in video. I hope to come up with something really insightful soon, hopefully you and the world can get to be better acquainted with people living specific disabilities.

Thank you again.

Very Best,

Our Voices make the WORLD PULSate...
Vweta.

Its amazing how we take lots of things for granted. Thank you for sharing the story and educating the ignorant about being differently abled. Your reasons are great and I hope that government do take note of views shared on the internet for better nations.

Go girl.

Catherine Sakala
Entomologist and Parasitologist- Zambia

Vweta's picture

Thank You

Thank You CatherineSakala.

How else would we know if we are not educated? Am still a victim of mis-education, sometimes i feel living with one form of disability puts me in a position to understand the challenges others face, this is wrong and everyday i am learning.

Greetings from Nigeria!

Our Voices make the WORLD PULSate...
Vweta.

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