The women of the Nigerian Deaf persons association are the real definition of “circumstances don’t define who you are.” Against all odds, these groups have found ways to keep moving, striving and living what to them is their “best lives”- with so much confidence and determination; for their kids, themselves and immediate community.
Their story would inspire you to push for a need to have an inclusive conversation about and between the various classes that make up the Nigerian society- virtually and physically on how we can empower one another regardless of physical shortcomings, communication and manmade barriers prevalent in today’s society. A call to connect and build; as It is now more apparent than ever, the need for a symbiotic relationship between the rich and the poor, the lame or whole and basically all members of society-including the government and private sector to collectively innovate, interact and partner; in order to build the nation forward.
In these times of separation, quarantine and social distancing which the COVID-19 pandemic has instigated, there have been needs to find innovative ways for people to reconnect and reach out to one another. For instance, consider the impact Covid 19 had on you and me and other able-bodied folk in our communities. Shouldn’t it make us wonder or question how much has really been done to ensure the total well being of the marginalized group living amidst us? To cater to not only their emotional; but psychological and physical needs in these times which has obviously been harder on them than anyone else.
This outreach by the Civic foundation- team has brought to a focus some of the disadvantages the lockdown has had on that 23.7% of Nigerians who have hearing impairments! It is also important to note that 84% of the deaf population in Nigeria remain under-educated and economically under-EMPOWERED! Giving us an insight into what they and other physically impaired people have suffered throughout the present realities of the times.
We have the entire scoop with visual evidence of our experience with the women of the deaf community; ensure to check it out on our Facebook and Instagram as well as linked in and twitter pages.
Although there has been a flooding of news on COVID-19 and its prevention, there has been a lot of sensitization on the wide spread and containment of the virus; it however appears that not much work has been done to cater to the information needs of the naturally forgotten bunch amidst us! This somewhat brings to light the level of inequality and discrimination imbedded in the fabric of the Nigerian system.
Par-adventure Mrs Veronica, of Igala descent falls ill as a result of lack of information about the virus; this translates to the fact that basic access to information that could save her life has not been thought through enough to be made available to her and others like her. Therefore, access to basic health care amenities must be even more farfetched for her group.
They say what you don’t know won’t hurt- but how do you protect yourself from something you’re completely ignorant of? This is in many ways a breach/ defilement of the fundamental human right of these relegated groups –i.e. the right to life and information. ‘’ I did not know what was going on, nobody told us anything- I just came out to do my business and saw the streets blocked with police everywhere.”
“Sometimes I had to disobey the law just because I needed to come out to feed my family-we were hungry”
“Many of us depend on our husbands” she said. “Covid 19 took their jobs away and that became very difficult for me and my children.’’
The deficit in the decimation of information has been potentially life threatening to these women who have no access to socially impactful information. It is high time the government prioritizes creating a standard structure of dispersing information in a manner that is accessible to these disadvantaged people – particularly hearing and visually impaired persons. More so, the need for the private sector to also contribute with resources just as the Civic foundation has; setting an example over the course of their 5 year existence.
Essential moves such as this outreach by Civic innovation lab are highly commendable and society should rally behind such initiatives as they play their own part to building a better-more inclusive Nigeria- hereby contributing to the attainment of the UN Sustainable Development goal no 10 which speaks of total societal inclusion as a way of curbing inequality.
Not ashamed to feel or express themselves- they wore what society has implied as their shame as their pride. #Unapologetically Woman. Take Mrs Helen-the women leader of the bunch for instance; she was so confident and sure of herself, and commanded so much respect with the other women.
What is more is young Blessing, a lady whose reality changed from all she knew at the age of 12 when she suddenly turned deaf one faithful day. Defying all odds, she has gone ahead to obtain her master’s degree at the University of Abuja, in Business Administration management. These are a few amongst the lot who are not ashamed to feel, express themselves, or share their story. These women wear what society brands as their shame as their pride.
There is need for real change and reformative structures within the walls we live in called Nigeria- which has built itself in, and left this marginalized group out of the inclusive picture she appears and claims to have.