LIFE HISTORY OF MRS. GLORIA NWAFOR, A WOMAN WITH PHYSICAL DISABILITY, FOUNDER AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF CARE FOR THE PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED AND DESTITUTE FOUNDATION (CAPCADF) BASED IN ANAMBRA STATE OF NIGERIA.
Cause of Disability
According to Mrs. Gloria, a very energetic and industrious woman, her story change when she got sick at the age of 3 and her parents took her to a Nurse who administered an injection on her. Unknown to the nurse and her parents that it was polio so the injection paralyzed her two legs.
Immediate family challenges
Her parents tried all they could to get her back on her feet including taking her to the Orthopedic Hospital at Enugu, but all their efforts proved abortive. They finally brought her back to the house with a lost hope that she would no longer be useful in life.
Within that period, she couldn’t sit or balance well on the ground because her paralysis was from her waist down to her legs to the extent that she couldn’t crawl nor stand up. Infact, two of her legs seem dead as that time.
But God intervened in her life situation miraculously by using her age mates to pose mobility challenges to her which eventually paid off because it served a therapy to her and today, she can walk about majestically with only right leg paralyzed, she walks without using neither crutches nor wheelchair.
“How did this miracle happened”
Their compound used to be a playing ground for children. Whenever they came to play, they would expect her to come out to join them but she couldn’t because she couldn’t sit nor stand.
One day, God inspired those Children and gave them wisdom on how to handle her case because it was painful to them that she was unable to come out and play with them. They went to where she was lying and carried her out to their playing ground. They used broom stick to measured her legs and they dug a hole to the length of the broom and they put her 2 legs inside the hole and they used Sand to cover them to my hip. After they will leave her to stand upright on the hole without anybody supporting her. When they saw that she could stand firm on the hole without anyone supporting her, they would be singing and dancing for me which she usually dance to the beating of the song. After their experiment with her for some time, her legs started to regain life and whenever they brought her out of the hole, they would discover that she could stand up by holding something to support herself.
My parents realizing that she could walk with a movable object, they constructed a wooden bicycle for her which she used to walk with someone helping her. With this, her legs began to get stronger on a daily basis until she started walking without holding anything to support myself till date. “Was it not a miracle”.
Then her Parents enrolled her in Primary School during UBE system, when she was in Primary 3, her mother died. That was when she learnt the importance of a mother in the family.
After the death of her mother, her schooling was disrupted, but thanks to UBE program which gave room for free education, which made it possible for her to complete her Primary School. She took and passed the Secondary school Entrance Examination and was admitted to enter Junior Secondary School (JSS) 1 in 1982. Both in her Secondary and University Education, her fellow students finds it difficult to associate with her because of her Disability. Some of them were running away from her because they thought disability is infectious. That was height of the segregation, it reached to the extent that some students started avoiding the only girl who accepted her as her friend because she was associating with her. The teachers were not left out in discriminating practices against her.
Her family members discontinued sponsoring her education after the death of her mother in her Primary 3.
Through the help of UBE, she managed to complete Primary School.
Life in school was not easy to her, people did avoid her as if she would infect them with disability.
When she shared with her father and her siblings about her intention to further her education to secondary school, they told her that it was of no use, since she is a person with disability, it would be a waste of money sending her secondary school because of the belief that she wouldn’t amount to anything meaningful because of her disability.
She hoped that they would change their mind, but they never did instead they abandoned her. The action did not deter me rather it strengthened her to begin to think on what to do rewrite the mindset of her family members.
According to her, she cried to God to help her out of that situation and provide resources to take care of her education.
God answered her prayers. “God always comes to my dream to teach me how to weave and plait hair during long holidays”. During that time, she was going to the market to weave and plait hair and from there, she was making money to go back to school at resumption and that was how she sustained herself in Secondary School till she completed her SSCE Examination.
Through her hard work, she lacked nothing in School to the extent that she used to give pocket money to my elder sister who was also schooling. During Christmas season, people would be booking for their turn to weave their hair from November and that was how nice and lucrative her plaiting business was that saw her through school.
She was offered employment at the Local government with grade level 03 on charity basis because of her disability even when she was qualified more than her counterparts without disabilities who were offered employment from grade level 04. During her confirmation of appointment after 2 years of service as in the scheme of work, she was denied but was considered in the 3rd year of her appointment.
How she overcame her disability
Her above life stories, starting from her family, how she overcame her educational challenges without depending on anybody because she believed in herself, she trust in God, self determined, she depended on what she have so that she wouldn’t mess herself up with men.
She also secured employment without any god father. From her office work performances, she was given study leave with pay to do OND in Social Development by Orumba North Local Goverment Area of Anambra State. After that, She was given Scholarship by Orumba North Local Goverment Area to study Vocational and Adult Education with Economic option at Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka Anambra State. She further proceeded to do Post Graduate in Peace and Conflict Resolution at the National Open University, Awka Study Center, Abagana also with God’s help. That how she use education to overcome disability.
She have published two books:
- My vision for persons with Disabilities in Anambra State and beyond first published in 2008. Edited in 2014.
- I am discriminated because of my Disability (cries of Persons living with Disabilities in Nigeria.
She have also published two reports:
situation by generating and analyzing data of Persons living with Disabilities to identify and publishing the situation reports of the existing gap on Persons living with Disabilities in Anambra State. 2011 and 2014 respectively.
She founded and established an NGO named: Care for the Physically Challenged and Destitute Foundation (CAPCADF) and a Micro Finance Institution (CAPCADF MFI)
- Through CAPCADF MFI, she have initiated, mobilized and formed 235 cooperative groups with a minimum of 10 members and a maximum of 20 members.
- She have extended soft loan to nearly 1000 beneficiaries and grant opportunities to some of our beneficiaries.
- Through my efforts in the management of CAPCADF projects, CAPCADF as an MFI have received an Award of Best Micro Finance Practioner from IFAD/CBN/RUFIN in Abuja on 16/03/2017. I have received an Award of Honour from Anambra State through Local Goverment System as the best staff of the year 2019/2020 on 03/12/2020.