"We all have a disability of some kind; all are lacking in one way or another. Saul has an injury to his leg. What if his personality was deformed? How much worse if his soul was lame? Preachers or teachers look for the good in all of us. (Bless them for doing so.) I don't see a cripple. I haven't met anyone yet who isn't handicapped in some way. So what's the big deal? Don't hide your deformity. Wear it like a Purple Heart." – Georgiann Baldino
My sojourn into the world of people with disabilities and their family started on the 2nd day of November 2009 but before then, I have worked in financial and communication organizations, including the Paramilitary, but deep down inside of me, I knew it was not what I wanted to do. The much anticipated opportunity came through the Children’s Developmental Centre a Lagos based NGO where I had my first close encounter working with children and young adults with disabilities, my social work experience also came in form of an outreach programme tagged “We Too Can Grow” programme, a brainchild of this same NGO, on Tuesday 10th of November same year, Venue was the Massey Children Hospital on the Island. This very hands – on programme essentially trains the mothers to become ‘Therapists’ for their children and teaches the mothers massage, handling and positioning skills, specific exercises, sensory stimulation, communication exercises etc. little did I know that this was a programme destined to take me to a whole lots of places both far and near, urban and rural areas within Nigeria. Overtime I became familiar with words such as Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down syndrome, Learning Disability and lots more.
Raising a child with disability can be very over whelming on the entire family structure, affecting parents, siblings, and extended family members considering the enormous emotional, social and financial ramifications of raising a child or young adult with disability in Nigeria, parents and families involved deserved to be treated with empathy and respect. In my experience of working with families in a country like Nigeria, I have realized the enormous burden that such families have to shoulder. Getting the right educational and support services can be very depressing. Quite early, parents recognize that they have to raise their child in a very unfriendly society. The child with disability faces discrimination and seclusion in the school and recreational centres. The young adult with disability after struggling to make it through thorny educational system finds it very difficult to get employment. Our transportation system and public building are constructed with no consideration for the unique needs of people with disability. So much to talk about, I could go on and on.
My name is Sunday Ojo, a Social worker and a missioner with House of Shield; I will be your regular host on this section and regularly update you with my experience working with children and young adult with disabilities it promises to be a rewarding and exciting experience.
Keep a date!