Sharon Ossah: What if you were a cripple?

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I was at a bus stop on the highway last night . No, this was actually some five to six weeks ago. Meaning, I started typing this a while back but just so I don’t bore you with stories that touch, I’d just say things came up but we’re here.

I was waiting for a bus going my way but looking at the crowd of people standing, waiting for probably the same buses going my way meant I’d need to struggle if I wanted to be out of there. I didn’t need to turn to notice a huge frame standing on one feet. I felt cold at that instance. Here he was, standing, concentrating on the upcoming buses, but never moving, would he run with us, would he jump on a moving bus as is the cruel norm? When would he leave here? He struggled to walk not caring about the prying eyes but he seemed to have a lot on his mind and for some, their complacency or busy body couldn’t allow them take their eyes off him.

I looked round, I thought of something, what if the traffic officials flagged a vehicle down, what if they assisted him out of this place? I wasn’t surprised when I saw them arguing over money…so that was out of the way. I suggested to mom who was already touched to go ask him where he was headed if we could flag down a bus and get him on his way. She did, but it hurt us more as he avoided our eyes when we asked, he said he was fine….he was far from fine. He was hurt, he was in deep thought, he couldn’t imagine he was at that place, that stage of his life where random strangers would ask to help him…was he a charity case? He’s a man, why should he cry? He is able to help himself. Isn’t that what society expects of men? And immediately we left him, I saw him wipe off tears from his face in a subtle way. How he managed to get home that night I honestly don’t know but I had a renewed concern for the physically challenged.

I can’t speak for developed countries, I however can speak for my immediate environment, I can say that as regards making life easier for the physically challenged in Nigeria, we have neglected and shamed them. If the common man in Nigeria is at a loss for comprehending the harsh treatment and living conditions meted to him due to the lack of leadership we have, then what hope is there for those who are in dire need of physical assistance and support?

How do they manage with mobility? Taking the overhead bridges? Are there avenues and structures in place that cater for their movements? What about banks? Places of work? Do they feel among and belong to the larger society? What about relationships, schooling, political positions, leadership positions?

I feel strongly that every sane society must be inclusive. Whatever it is we clamor and strive for, they also need those things in abundance. They have rights.  These people deserve a right to good health care, shelter, food, education, relationships and marriages and to that end, enlightenment is all we need. The least we can do is care, show empathy without seeming pitiful of their conditions, we need do more. We start now.

 

Till next week Sunday!

 

_Sharon Ossah

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