We are still useful to the society, says NAHCAN
Association For Disabled Tasks Govt On Failed Promises As Invited Guests Shun Exposition
It was a sad scene at the Archbishop Vining Memorial Church’s auditorium, venue of the 2016 exposition for the National Handicap Carers Association of Nigeria (NAHCAN). Invited guests, medical practitioners and experts invited for this year’s exposition failed to turn up.
Apart from members of the association and a handful of journalists present, no other invited guest showed up as the National President of the association, Adewale Adeyanju, contemplated moving the event to another day, hoping for a better turn out.
The event, which was supposed to start by 9:00am, didn’t see any activity till around noon when Adeyanju was finally forced to address the few journalists there. Speaking with tears in his eyes, he lamented the fact that they have been snubbed by the government, corporate bodies and individuals they approached for support and sponsorship.
He said: “We have been struggling to raise money to even organize this event. We invited the press, doctors and other health professionals to speak to our members to teach them methods that will improve their quality of life, to tell us about emerging trends in medicine so that we can be better informed. A lot of our members don’t know where to access treatment and they suffer in silence. Some of them have fallen victims of accident and are stranded at Igbobi with no help forthcoming. Our leaders run abroad to treat the smallest thing, leaving us to suffer. When we go to the government hospitals, they are on strike and we cannot afford the private hospitals, as they are very expensive.
“Our association tries to help as many as we can but we are cash-strapped. Able-bodied persons are losing their jobs, talk less of us. We are at the bottom rung of society, we are suffering. Some of our members are married with children but cannot take care of their family. A lot of us have HIV, are sick or die quickly and this programme was organized to help them have a better quality of life.”
He said he was saddened that people didn’t come, believing they were dispensable and had nothing to offer them. “We want companies and the government to partner with us. This government made several promises to us before the elections and it is our duty to remind them of those promises. Whenever we go to government hospitals, they keep asking us to come back and many of our members have died off like that.”
Adeyanju appealed to the government to include them in the plans they have for the state and country and help in information dissemination as a lot of them had no idea what to do or where to go to access medical care, saying some members suffered from blindness and deafness at the same time. “We are only asking for support. Our leaders establish their own foundations and when we submit proposals, they take our ideas, pass it off as theirs and still don’t help us. We approached many organizations for help and none of them responded. In July last year, we stormed LASUTH to complain that the drugs they give us don’t work and nothing came of it.”
He further decried that despite the fact that a good number of them were well educated, companies don’t hire them, asking them instead ‘what can you do for us?’ and send them away after giving them N5000. He wondered why help is not forthcoming and said that anybody could become disabled tomorrow through no fault of theirs. When asked if they followed up with the companies even after sending letters, he affirmed that they did and when they called, the secretaries of the companies place them on hold, sometimes as much as 20 minutes and they became discouraged when it became a pattern
“The mindset against us is very poor and we have been discriminated against now for years. We have nobody to fight for us in the senate or House of Assembly. We begged for TV coverage and they were asking for thousands of Naira. Where do they expect us to get that kind of money? Most of our members do menial jobs to survive.”
Adeyanju speaking through an interpreter, begged the Lagos State and Federal government to make good on their promises and come to their aid quickly so as to prevent avoidable deaths as ‘we are still useful to the society and have a lot to contribute.’