ASO CHRON­I­CLE In­side Abuja’s colony of phys­i­cally chal­lenged per­sons

Daily Trust - - ASO CHRON­I­CLE -

While the means of sur­vival is the main con­cern of the males in the com­mu­nity, in­ac­ces­si­bil­ity to qual­ity health care is on the pri­or­ity list of the women.

Sa­gir said the women re­lied on some Good Sa­mar­i­tans to drive them to the hos­pi­tal in Kuchinkoro or Garki, de­pend­ing on the na­ture of the ail­ments.

Some other times, he said, some would de­pend on a patent medicine store in the com­mu­nity.

Ha­jiya Ju­mai Sani is one of the women liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties in the colony. She said she had used her dis­abil­ity to pos­i­tively touch the lives of sev­eral women in the com­mu­nity. Ac­cord­ing to her, she had trained women free of charge on fash­ion de­sign­ing.

About 14 women have grad­u­ated from her in­for­mal school of skills ac­qui­si­tion.

The dearth of ameni­ties also af­fects her busi­ness. There’s no elec­tric­ity to op­er­ate some of the sewing ma­chines.

“I went to a train­ing cen­tre to learn, and from there I got my first ma­chine. The train­ing I re­ceived is what I am im­part­ing into those who want to learn.

Four­teen peo­ple have grad­u­ated from this cen­tre with­out any charge. How­ever, we con­trib­uted money to get these two ma­chines,” she said, point­ing to some ma­chines in the cen­tre.

“Dur­ing the re­cent Sal­lah cel­e­bra­tion, we had many cus­tomers and had to re­sort to the use of gen­er­a­tor. Now, the gen­er­a­tor has packed up. We need gov­ern­ment and pri­vate in­di­vid­u­als to help us with more ma­chines. We also need elec­tric­ity.”

The school, the only so­cial ser­vice fa­cil­ity in the com­mu­nity, is not spared from gov­ern­ment ne­glect. The school is in bad shape, with few teach­ers, while mem­bers of the com­mu­nity keep pray­ing that gov­ern­ment would one day re­lo­cate them and make their com­mu­nity hab­it­able.

The six teach­ers in the school re­ceive salaries from the mea­gre amount re­alised from the pupils’ fees.

Shuaibu H. Ahmed, the school’s head-teacher said the pupils usu­ally stopped school at pri­mary four due to the lack of class­rooms and ca­pa­ble hands. Those who want to fur­ther their ed­u­ca­tion are re­ferred to other schools. He said the lack of gov­ern­ment in­ter­ven­tion had caused set­back for the over 300 chil­dren in the school.

Ex­plain­ing the school’s or­deal, Shuaibu said his pas­sion to as­sist the less priv­i­leged made him take up the re­spon­si­bil­ity of head­ing the school in 2010.

“It seems the gov­ern­ment has for­got­ten us. I am tired of talk­ing about it. The school started in a shed be­fore this struc­ture was erected.

“We should un­der­stand that this is a colony of peo­ple liv­ing with dis­abil­i­ties, and in a place like this, gov­ern­ment should have spe­cial in­ter­ven­tion to help the peo­ple, both young and old,” he added.

With over 300 pupils in the school, Shuaibu said the six teach­ers in the school were paid from the N800 fees charged per pupil.

While Shuaibu lamented the poor state of the school, the books stacked on shelves and ta­bles in his of­fice showed oth­er­wise.

“Th­ese are used books do­nated by other schools. The school has been re­ly­ing on other schools and peo­ple for a very long time,” he ex­plained.

He con­tin­ued, “The par­ents of most pupils are phys­i­cally chal­lenged; hence they can­not af­ford many things. Govern­ment is sup­posed to have a spe­cial in­ter­ven­tion fund for them.”

While the fu­ture of the chil­dren in the school ap­peared gloomy and un­pre­dictable, what seemed most plau­si­ble, and per­haps in­evitable, was the fear tug­ging at their par­ents’ hearts - that their chil­dren could end up beg­ging like them if gov­ern­ment re­mained dis­pas­sion­ate about tack­ling their chal­lenges.

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