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Physically Challenged Not Disabled Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Shola Amurawaiye, Nigeria Mar 16, 2006
Culture , Health , Human Rights , Green Spaces   Opinions


Physically Challenged Not Disabled The use of the term disabled to describe a handicapped or physically challenged person always irritates me. I am handicapped and I know that I am certainly not disabled in any way. In my daily life, I undergo so many challenges that are not visible to any other person. However, once in a while, when a friend gets a broken leg, has his leg in a cast and has to use crutches like me for a few weeks, they begin to look at me with more respect and understanding.

But the issue is meeting, tackling and overcoming the challenges. In Nigeria, becoming properly educated is a big challenge for the handicapped. The school buildings and all other facilities were not designed with thought for anyone who may be using a wheelchair, crutches or can’t climb staircases. So, I usually have to go the extra mile and sweat in order to attend lectures. My parents didn’t believe in putting me in any “special” school. I attended normal schools all through out my education. But when I got to the university, things took a different dimension. I had to live on campus since the school was very far from town and transportation was expensive. Using the conveniences was a tough task, and many days I had to skip taking my bath or using the toilets!

I was not daunted. Today, I work as a computer programmer/website developer; I’m married to a lovely woman, and I own and drive a car. In all of this, God has been very faithful and merciful. Also, my mother played a major role in this success story. She always believed that I could become somebody useful in life; she always encouraged me and had high hopes for me. She’s not alive now, but I know that if not for her courage, I might have ended up a beggar in the streets today. All mothers with handicapped children should please take a cue from my dearest mother.

However, the final battle has to be fought and won in the minds of the handicapped. You must see yourself beyond your physical limitations and challenges. In deed, any physical limitation is something to inventively subdue. Self-pity has no place in all of this. You must be ready to take what you want from society.

People will not easily change their attitudes; you must make them see that they are wrong. The saddest times for me are when I’m standing by the road side, perhaps waiting for a taxi, and someone walks up to me, says “sorry”, and offers me five naira (money). What a pity! Society must know that we are not disabled, we are just challenged and will take up the challenge.



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Writer Profile
Shola Amurawaiye

Shola Amurawaiye is physically challenged and thus is passionate about opportunities for the development of people with physical challenges. He supports and mentors young people, most especially the handicapped. He is a programmer and website developer. He is presently the IT Administrator of Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria. He is married to Tunrayo Amurawaiye and they are blessed with three children; Oreofeoluwa, Ireoluwayinka and Itunuoluwa.
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