Living with a disability, in any form is never easy; especially if your environment is not making headway in curbing the stigmatization of persons born or somehow affected by a physical challenge.
While government is making strides to ensure persons living with disabilities are acknowledged and offered the same privileges as person with no disabilities, it seems the efforts of the people need to be intensified to attain this goal.
YEN.com.gh speaks to a young woman who is living, laughing and reaching for her dreams regardless of the difficulties she experiences physically.
Joanna Gunab hails from the Upper West region and is currently a Level 400 Undergraduate medical student at the University of Development Studies in Tamale, in the Northern Region.
At the age of 5, Joanna fell into a short illness, which changed her life.
Joanna arrived home from school one day feeling terribly ill and was rushed to the nearby clinic, as her family were worried the journey to the general hospital would be too long.
Joanna narrates that upon arrival at the clinic, there was unfortunately a blackout which led to the nurses on duty using a lantern.
She said she was administered an injection and medication, which rather adversely affected one of her limbs, causing it to stunt in growth.
Growing up, Joanna recalls dealing with children and adults shunning her and poking fun at her disability.
“There were times I wanted to give up cos I thought I didn't amount to anything but my family didn't allow me to do that. They never treated me differently from any of my siblings,” Joanna tells YEN.
Joanna gained admission into the Kumasi Girls Senior School, where she tried to excel at her studies.
She states she was also faced with challenges during her SHS years, when she nearly missed out on an important scholarship because of the misconceptions about people with disabilities.
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She says she has had to deal with children mimicking her walk due to her condition, and even some persons of authority shunning her because it.
She says she had often feared going to events or places because of the thought she might fall down, or due to the awkward looks she would get from strangers.
She notes she sometimes gets weary when she walks, as she is currently without adequate walking aids; a challenge due to the financial constraints she faces.
Nevertheless, Joanna has gone through the years, holding on to the love and strength of her family members and friends who support her through it all.
Joanna says to YEN: “My very own determination not to let down all the people who are cheering me on and waiting for me, bring the best in me out. I won't deny I sometimes break down and cry my eyes out, but after all the crying, I tell myself it's not the end of my life and there are better things in store for me.”
Joanna has declared that regardless of how society sees physically-challenged citizens, she is determined to erase the misconceptions about herself and others like her.
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