ASO CHRONICLE Inside Abuja’s colony of physically challenged persons
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.