Life, rightly described as a comedy for the rich, has proven not to be as favorable to the poor. And in all of ours, there will come moments when we are faced with difficulties that seem overwhelming.
For the purposes of a middle-aged man, Wisdom, “overwhelming" takes on a whole new meaning when that difficulty is the fruit bore from the conscious effort of a group of persons to make the life of another miserable, simply because they can afford to do so - the rich oppressing the poor, simply because they can.
Wisdom's story is one that overwhelms and saddens at the same time; a riveting series of events that left one wondering and in shock.
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It is a story that hit me as better suited to a movie script than to reality. And as he sat solemn and head-bowed, recounting it to me I couldn’t help but feel like the audience of a man telling of chapters of a horror that he would rather have put behind him, quickly.
His story is one of an undisguised apathy, exploitation, and injustice that started with a gut-wrenching accident that would change his life forever. Left to him, the torture would have ended over a year ago, but unfortunately, his story remained unheard and conveniently forgotten. Till now.
According to him, the accident occurred on 28th March 2018 on the premises of International Packing Ghana Limited during his night shift at around 3 am as he went about his duties as a factory-hand for the company.
Speaking to Wisdom as he spoke in Twi with an accent that made him sound Ewe, he said, “I was working with a colleague in the company when the machine abruptly stopped so I switched it off in attempt to find out what the problem was.
Unknowingly, my colleague who I thought had gone out to make a call had gone to turn it back on with my hands still in it. I realized it too late and ended up having to yank myself out of the machine.”
From his account, Wisdom would have lost more than just an arm if he hadn’t reacted swiftly enough. Luckily, he was rushed to the Tema General Hospital immediately after the incident.
He fell unconscious almost instantly and only realized he was in a hospital after he had woken to find his left arm, the greater part at least, mangled beyond recognition or repair.
I had to restrain myself from imagining the scene, even from hindsight, it was one too gory to be beheld. And that is how his wife, Margaret Agyabeng, found him after she had rushed to the hospital upon hearing the news.
Under the circumstances, he knew an amputation was inevitable – and so did his doctor. So according to medical records, he was sedated and put under the knife. And now Wisdom Agyabeng, father, husband, and son who left his family a whole man would return having lost an arm and what would later be a means of living courtesy of a crude accident. But he had not lost hope, not yet – it was all he had left.
In accordance with the extent of his injuries, Wisdom received permission for a four-month leave and a monthly stipend of GH¢300.00; a measly increase from the GH¢220.00 he previously earned.
The next couple of months would prove to be perhaps the most challenging of his life. He had now been forced to learn to adapt to his new circumstances fighting through physical and psychological pains left behind by the disaster.
“He no longer had the ability to do the menial jobs he did on the side to complement his salary,” lamented his wife, who worked as a petty trader, narrated.
Tthe effects of that came hitting hard and fast; what little he received from the company was quickly proving not to be enough to bear up the costs of catering for three children and a wife.
Although she sold cassava and plantain in an attempt to augment the ever-increasing cost of surviving.
His new-earned disability had robbed him of the opportunity to fend for his family in the ways he had always done before. To top it all off, the company only refunded his medical bills after he had paid for them from his salary.
And I find it rather suspicious that the management, headed at the time by a Lebanese known only as Mr. Edgar, expected the cost of medical care after an injury of this degree could be covered by three hundred cedis.
It seemed to be a very convenient way of having the victim himself cut down on medical expenses without having to directly force him to do so.
By all indications, it worked because before long, Wisdom stopped going for his visits to the hospital on account of “inability to pay for his medical expenses” he told me.
If the constant pain and easy exhaustion he complains of are anything to go by, he is paying dearly for that decision after more than a year in its making.
But his woes were far from over, at the end of the four-month leave a warning came – he had to start work or risk losing his meager pay.
He didn’t heed the warning due to health complications and true to their word, he wasn’t given a dime that month.
He had no option than to brave through the pain to report for work in the next month.
His bosses deemed it fit, it seemed, to pile insult on injury and they did so with an impudence. The “job” for which he had been threatened was to have him sit around with the security personnel, an unofficial security guard of sorts.
Although according to him, it was a means of denting his already insufficient funds, even more, having to spend money daily on transportation only so he could sit around all day wondering why he had come in the first place.
If you ask me it was all part of some atrocious strategy to have him quit so they could have an excuse to wash their hands off their duty of compensating him properly.
As it were, was not the first, the last or the worst of the atrocities committed by this Lebanese-owned company against this man. In the weeks following his injury, the company leadership promised to have him fitted with a prosthetic arm which would be billed to the company.
So with that assurance, Mr. Wisdom headed out to the Nsawam Orthopedic Centre where he was dismissed after consultation with reason that he lacked a formal document proving that the said company would foot the bill for the required operation.
That was over a year ago, and the company has provided neither the formal document nor refunds of the bill he paid for that consultation.
This story is the first installment in a two-part investigative series produced exclusively for YEN.com.gh by a freelance journalist, Kojo Yorke.
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