Skilled but blind: Beads professional appeals for help

AS Mr Dele Johnson was led to a seat, he hesitated a bit. But when he eventually sat down, he was full of apologies for the trouble he thought he had caused. However, he was quickly told he had nopt been a bother, so he relaxed a bit.

Before the incident that changed his life six years ago, Johnson had a different life. He was good with his hands, he had a family, and by some standards, life was good. Nothing could have prepared him for the fact that at the age of 35, he would lose the function of both eyes.

With a set face, he rummaged through his bag and brought out his certificate, as well as samples of his colourful bead products. His ears picked the slightest whisper and each time that happened, he adjusted his position. He looked down, and looked up again and he began his story.

Born in Akunpopo, Oyo State on October 20, 1975, Johnson, a vulcaniser, had been married before he lost his sights. “The incident occurred on February 11, 2010. I was pumping the tyre of an articulated vehicle that day and as I moved closer to check if the tyre wasn’t leaking, it burst. That was how I lost my eyesight completely. I was supposed to pump the tyre to 120 but at 90, when I checked, the tyre just burst. Only God can explain what happened. This happened three days after I participated in the sharing of my father’s land in Ife.

Not long after, I lost my sight, my wife left me. “After the incident, because I didn’t want to be a beggar or be idle, I decided to learn some skill. I started at the Blind Centre at Ogbomoso in Oyo State and later moved to Oshodi, Lagos. Then I went to a craft centre in Ikeja where I earned a certificate.

“While learning the skill, I met the woman who is presently my wife. She also has challenges with her sight, but she stays with her mother for now. I make key holders and sekere with beads. I also make earrings and necklaces with beads.

“After my graduation, I went to various places and many people have been making promises. What I’m really here for is to plead with Nigerians to assist myself and my wife so I can get some money to invest in the business. I am be interested in supplying my works to people and I’m also open to discussion with those who would be interested in investing in the business.

“I have experienced some challenges as a result of my blindness, include getting accommodation, because let’s face it, not many people would want a blind man for a tenant. There have also been challenges with getting certain jobs because of my fingers. I have three fingers and one thumb as a result of a childhood illness. I am also an orphan,” Johnson stated.

For those who also found themselves with similar predicament, Johnson advised them to “learn a skill, rather than staying idle and begging on the streets.”

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