It has been a general notion among people that the worst thing that could happen to a man during his period on earth is when he gets struck by any form of disability. Oftentimes, a majority of the people do consider this set of disabled humans as unfortunate because they are usually seen as those who have nothing or very little to offer humanity before their days underneath the earth. These disabled fellows, however, feel so rejected and most times see their disability as a great despair and this is commonly as a result of the palpable compassion shown to them by people.
Narrowing this discovery down to Nigeria, it could be observed that a good percentage of people living with disability are mostly found on walkways and roadsides, taking advantage of their disability as a means of getting people’s sympathy and which will in turn fetch them some money or gifts in form of alms into their pockets. However, this piece does not postulate that all beggars on the street relish this act of alms begging as a decent means of livelihood; it only suggests ways by which these people could be encouraged and assisted to meet up with nearly a normal human mode of living rather than the money given to them everyday.
Worthy of note is the fact that the glaring sympathy shown to a disabled person consequently subjects him or her to inferiority complex. Sometimes, this inferiority complex can manifest itself in either withdrawn or aggressive social behaviour which may bring about a denial of socialisation to those living with disabilities. Therefore, it is advisable to always keep one’s sympathy for the disabled with oneself and treat them as though they were normal people who should enjoy equal rights and privileges with the able-bodied. Moreover, this special set of people, if noticed to be vulnerable to convinction, may be induced to seeking regular professions as opposed to alms begging if relative supports or sponsorship from governmental or nongovernmental organisation could be reached.
Furthermore, according to a research made in preparation for this piece, it could be gathered that most disabled street beggars could only afford to put food on their table through the money given to them by passers-by and commuters who take pleasure in helping people in need as many of these beggars told different stories of how they were deserted by their families owing to their disability that was considered shameful. In this vein, social services from the government are hereby required to help in managing the welfare of these people so they could be introduced to a better life instead of watching them litter up the city roads.
Similarly, the kind of treatment we give to these people when found in our midst, whether in a social gathering, classroom or even in a commercial vehicle greatly affects their lives, either positively or otherwise. A nice and friendly hand, when stretched to a challenged person, gives him or her a welcoming appeal, accompanied by a sense of belonging and this helps in creating a world of acceptance for them. On the other hand, when stigmatised or desolated, they become a loner and feel unaccepted.
If a disability is properly harnessed, it can serve some favourable purposes contrary to people’s view about it. This means that disabilities could equally be used to one’s advantage to reaching the apex of his dream with just a few efforts made. If patiently studied, it would be noticed that if an able-bodied person achieves a goal that is admirable in the society, it takes only mere ‘congratulations’ from the people since it is a regular thing that is expected to be achieved by the people in the human society. Equally, if the same goal is attained by a challenged person, even though it is an ordinary achievement which has severally been accomplished by many people, it becomes extraordinary to people and tends to gain more attention and appreciation just because the doer is challenged. This explains that every ordinary accomplishment of a challenged person is seen as extraordinary by people and with this, persistent trial by a challenged person to do what the able-bodied ones do on a normal basis could turn into a ladder to climbing up to the peak.
Demola Adeleke is a visually impaired student of Mass Communication at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, on internship with Saturday Tribune.