|Some of the pupils of Oluyole Cheshire Basic School, Ibadan.|
By Victor Ogunyinka
|Some group of corp members posing with pupils of Cheshire Home during a courtesy visit, recently.|
you discovered that the baby you carried for nine months (more or less)
has a deficiency or disability after birth, what would you do? God
forbid you’d say, but the harsh reality is that there are people born
with one disability or the other. But then, what is wrong with having a
child with a disability?
The world of people living with disability is a colourful one. They
are at liberty to do what they do, they are sometimes in the middle of
attraction. People look at them with amazement, you like them from afar
and dislike them when they are your sibling or child and unfortunately,
their opinions rarely counts when decisions are made.
According to statistics, there are about 25 million Nigerians living with one form of disability or the other in Nigeria.
A visit to Oluyole Cheshire Basic School, Ibadan, revealed how the
clock ticks in the world of people living with disability.
Interestingly, it is no different from the life the supposed ‘normal
person’ live in.
Founded in June 15, 1959, Oluyole Chesire Home was established by a
European with the aim of catering for abandoned children and children
living with disability.
Ever since, their advances to rid the street of abandoned children
and children living with disability has recorded some successes.
We christen abandoned babies after Cheshire
In the quest of trying to give the babies a life that they deserve,
the abandoned babies brought to the home are named after the founder of
the institution, Cheshire.
Victoria Yinusa, Assistant Matron at the home explained that the
children are normal children and they take care of them normally,
stating that at the end of the term, they return to their families and
those without one would remain in the home.
“The abandoned are given a name and the surname of the founder of
this home, Cheshire. The oldest person here was born in 1975; she (Ebun
Cheshire) was abandoned behind the physiotherapy department in the
University College Hospital, Ibadan. They heard her cry and took care of
her for about five years before transferring her here. Ever since,
every first of December, we mark her birthday for her. She probably had
an infection when she was born and she is now epileptic, she spent about
25 years in primary school before leaving. We spent about N9,000 every
month to get her drugs.
“There is also another boy, Daisy Cheshire, that was abandoned on the
railroad, thinking he was going to be crushed by a moving train, some
good Samaritans rescued him and took him to UCH before the former matron
brought him here, he is partially blind,” she said.
We’ve had pupil of 24 years in primary three
Unlike a normal school where a pupil is seen as too old for a class,
it is a norm at Cheshire Basic Home. According to the headmistress, Mrs
Omobonike Awokoya, “There are no age limitations for pupils in this
school. We have a mental retardation or placement class for all of our
new intakes; that is where we do the groupings and posting of pupils to
where would suit their condition. But because of continuous awareness,
parents enrol their children from age six to eight; we have also had
pupils being posted from the ministry at age 24 that has never attended
school. Some are really interested in coming to school, so, whether they
are 10 or 15 years, we enrol them.
“These pupils cannot cope under normal school setting, when you take
them to a normal school, they get abandoned. We have some on wheel
chairs, there are some of them that cannot even write at all, those set
of people can understand but cannot write, during examinations, we
dictate to them and they supply the answers. They are not different from
the children out there, though some of them are hyperactive; they just
roam from place to place restlessly,” she said.
I was once a pupil and now, a teacher here —Mrs Oladapo
The saying ‘There is ability in disability’ suits the ascending
success story of Mrs Ibukunoluwa Oladapo, a subject teacher in Primary
three, Oluyole Cheshire Home Basic School.
“When I was three years old, I had polio; I was taken to the hospital
and went through physiotherapy. They later advised my parents to enrol
me in a school. They enrolled me at Cheshire Home as a pupil and now
that I am a teacher, I can say there is a little difference; since I am
into special education, I know how to take care of these pupils and
manage their challenges and inabilities better. These children are very
friendly and accommodating, if you come here on a visit, you will like
to be around us always,” she said.
We are challenged by what we saw at Cheshire —Corpers
Members of the National Youth Service Corps, Ido general Community
Development Service group, extended their charity gospel to Cheshire
Home, where they presented the management with some gift items.
The spokesperson of the group, Oyamienlen Eddy-dawn said: “We came to
meet with the disabled and the less privileged pupils, it wasn’t what
we expected that we met and it has really been inspiring. Imagine there
is no place like this, would all these children have been on the
streets? Here, they have the opportunity to learn and develop skills
just like everybody else. I have been challenged by what I see here and
the joy of everything is that these people appreciate the little things
you present to them wholeheartedly. I have realised that helping those
that are less privileged is going to be of great benefit to them and
most of all, God is going to be very happy you did.”
Our pressing need is a bus —Matron
Catering for people living with disabilities doesn’t come cheap; with
limitless demands to meet the ever present challenges of this group of
people and little, but generous help from some individuals, continuous
care is pertinent for people living with disabilities.
Mrs Yinusa said: “We need more hostels and we also need a bus. We buy
food stuffs and other needs with the bus, the ones we have are old and
rickety. We got a bus from our headquarters in England in the year 2000
and it is no longer in good shape.
“We have a clinic, Agbeke Mercy Medical Centre, donated to us by
Chief (Mrs) Kola Daisi and the UCH gave us some doctors and nurses and
the state government gave us a nurse. They also donated a bus, but in
the space of one month, we have spent over N50,000 on the bus. We also
need more staff quarters to cater for these children.
Love makes a difference with people living with disability
While speaking on the dangers of stigmatisation of people living with
disability, Dr Ayo Olofin, posited that children with disability have
achieved a lot in life; “they may not be able to reach the peak, but
with a lot of efforts, love makes a lot of difference in what these
children can achieve. It is a mistake to send such babies to a normal
school, especially those who physically look normal, but whose mental
capacity is damaged. It is better to look for a special school to enrol
them, but unfortunately, we don’t have enough of these special schools.
Children with Down syndrome are usually very friendly, they can be
loving and they respond to love.”