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I sponsored myself in Polytechnic- a woman with disability recounts her exploits and challenges

Miss Esther Sunday Makwe is a 37 years old polio survivor who in spite of her disability, she stand tall among her peers.  She graduated from Plateau state Polytechnic, Jos where she got HND certificate in Marketing. This beautiful single lady was an athlete but she is now earning a living from selling cosmetic and hair dressing. She is an indigene of Bassa in Plateau State and she has 7 siblings, 6 females and a male. In this interview, she shared with us how her education was funded, her business and her life with disability.


Do you recall when your disability occurred and how it happened?

I was told by my mother that I was a year and six months when it happened.  She said that I was sick and she took me to hospital where I was given injection and all of a sudden, I couldn’t walk with my legs and the rest is what you are seeing now.

What was life like growing up with disability? i. Did it affect your education in any way?, ii. Did it affect your Social life? and iii. How did the society perceive you?

Initially, as a child I never knew I have a disability, until when my friends started mimicking the way I walk and I had to always mother ask my mother why are my peers mimicking me and they don’t  do that to others. That was when she explained everything to me.

  1. Yes, it affected my education; I started school very late.
  2. Yes, it affected my social life and iii. People look at me as someone possessed by demon, different and they isolate themselves from me.

How did your education funded?

My father trained me from primary school to Junior Secondary School 2 and I took it from there and completed my secondary school. Through the proceeds from my shop in Jos, I sponsored myself in Plateau State Polytechnic, Jos.

How have you been managing these negative perceptions?

I was always crying wishing I would have being like other people in the world. The society is not accessible for me. The negative perceptions are still there but I didn’t allow them to affect my way of life.

What are the notable barriers you do encounter while carrying out your daily activities?

My major daily barrier is the difficulty in moving from one place to another. My transportation is quite high. I wish I have a car to ease my movement.

Are you married or in a relationship, what do you think about disability and relationship. Are there challenges?

I am not married but I am in a relationship. Relationship for a woman with disability has its own challenges. When you talk about a woman with disability in a relationship, it is a different ball game. Most men feel because I have disability, they should control all I have. At times they show me their girlfriends without disabilities. They don’t care how you feel rather you should be the one begging for their love.

Going by your peculiar experiences of discrimination and challenges you faced, what do you think can be done to make life a lot easier for you as a person with disability?

What can be done to make my life easier is empowering me to enhance my potentials. I need more money to boost my business or as a graduate if I am gainfully employed, it will go a long way.

What is the greatest lesson life has taught you?

Life has thought me that I don’t need to sit and wait for people to take care of me, because they will surely disappoint me.

What are your achievements as a person with disability?

I was into sports before going into business. As a sports lady, I won two gold, two silver and two bronze medals at National sports festivals in Bauchi 2000 and Edo 2002. I was able to send myself to school and now a graduate. I was able to open a business that has brought a lot to me. I have organized a capacity building workshop for some ladies with disabilities to build their self-esteem.

What has been your motivating factor?

The mockery I received from people motivated me to be who I am. I was challenged because they said I will not be useful to society but I have proven them wrong.

What are the challenges you face as a business woman with disabilities?

Presently, what I am facing is lack of capital to expand the business so that I can get more hands. I run the business alone and sincerely I need more hands.

Are you aware of Nigeria Disability Act and Plateau State Disability Law?

Yes I am.

What do you think that can be done to get government fully implement these laws?

There is need for more awareness creation in the state and all relevant stakeholders must get involved.  Nothing for us without us.

Going forward, what are we going to expect from you?

I want to explore all opportunities in regards to the business I am into, and I want to build my capacity to the extent that I can stand a chance of becoming the first female president with disability in Nigeria and indeed entire Africa.

What do you think about COVID-19?

COVID -19 is disease that has come to ravage the whole world. People with disabilities are really affected. The business patronage has reduced. Most of us now hardly feed.

How have you been observing the preventive measures?

I put my facemask on in public places, I wash my hands regularly, I use hand sanitizer. I make many people don’t come into the shop at the same time.

What do you think government can do to reduce the vulnerability of PWDs towards contracting the virus?

Is by giving us all we need to leave well at this moment.

Disability based violence; have you been abused and what do you think can be done to curb it?

We need to take all the necessary measures to curb disability based violence. The society should be inclusive.

What is your advice for other persons with disabilities?

Please my fellows try as much as you can to be independent. Don’t depend on others for survival. Just do the little you can.

 20. Your Parting words/Final words.

Finally, I will love this organization to use my story in a way that it will help to see to promote the needs of PWDs. Let the story also be a motivating factor for other PWDs to move forward in life. Thank you for choosing me.

This story is part of The Qualitative Magazine Project “CONNECTING OUR VOICES TO THE WORLD”-propagating the potentials and challenges of Persons with Disabilities in Plateau State supported by VOICE NIGERIA

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