Special Feature by Nange Kah
August 28, 2014 was a happy a busy day for Princess Markus Gundi, as she woke up trying to put finishing touches to her wedding preparations.
Unfortunately, it was the day her life was turned from walking on her two legs to lying motionless on a hospital bed.
Princess was on her way to Bauchi from Gombe in Nigeria’s north – east when the vehicle she was travelling in had an accident.
“That crash left me bed ridden for four years, I lost my senses, could not control my urine and thus was on catheter and oxygen”.
Princess woke up to the terrifying news that her finance had moved on, and had married someone else.
“That news affected my healing process. I couldn’t stop wondering why it all happened to me
I had to learn how to sit again and that was when it dawned on me that I will live the rest of my life on a wheelchair and will need people to help me move around “.
Princess’ woes did not end with her broken engagement. She got fired from the commercial bank where she was working, because of her health status.
With no job she decided to pick up her life again and started participating in activities involving people with spinal cord injuries.
“Being on a wheelchair chair is very challenging for a woman particularly. Once when I was trying to cook, the pot fell down because I couldn’t stand. I got burnt”.
Princess is however lucky to have caring family members. But she gets worried that she overstretches them.
“You know those caring for me do get tired and need rest, but unfortunately I can’t step in because of my condition”.
Princess said as a woman she would like to get married, but is scared.
“How will the man treat me, since I have difficulties in cooking and taking care of the house”.
The story is same with 50years old Safiya Abdullahi Gimba who sustained a spinal cord injury as a result of an accident in 2002.
Safiya too was preparing for her marriage then.
“I lost hope in life, it wasn’t easy at the initial stage but I thank God for my life”.
” For now I need assistance from a caregiver to take my bath and use the rest room. I can’t even go to the kitchen to cook”.
She said that marriage is out of the question as no man will tolerate a wife in her condition.
Unlike Princess, Safiya is still a staff of the Bauchi state government.
The two said they find public places inaccessible especially toilet facilities.
This has left them with no option than to always have adult diapers while in public.
“A diaper of ten pieces now cost 5.000naira. This is unaffordable” says Safiya.
These women have however found solace in the Spinal Cord Injuries Association of Nigeria, a non-governmental organization that works to promote the welfare of people with spinal cord injuries.
In the case of Princess, our labour law need to be updated to protect workers, why should she be layed off, if the labour law is updated the bank dare not try such, she can still work in the bank with her condition if it’s was in a sane society, where there’s law to protect people with disability and where each organization are to have number of offices reserve for people with disability