Her both arms are amputated but Millicent Kyerewaa, 35, used to earn a modest income between Ghc 100 and 200 daily from her salt trade shed at the Race Course market in the Ashanti regional capital, Kumasi.
The daring mother of one resolved not to join the unending queue of persons with disabilities on the streets of cities in Ghana whose daily survival depends on alms they receive from passersby.
Kyerewaa was not born with any physical defects until a fateful day in 2016 when her world came crushing.
“I woke up one day, went to the market and while at it I felt a burning sensation in my right arm and in short spate, the left arm also suffered same sensation. I got help from colleague market women who took me to the hospital where I was diagnosed as diabetic even though there’s no trace of diabetes”, Kyerewaa tells Ibrahim Abubakar.
Three days after her diagnosis, both arms began exhibiting signs of decay. A scared Kyerewaa again reported to the hospital but was told both arms needed to be amputated to prevent a spread in her entire body.
“I felt the burning sensation anytime I administered the medicines I got from the hospital but had no pains when I don’t take so I stopped taking it and in three days, both hands started rotting”.
With this, she became redundant. A situation that forced her daughter, 13, to assume the duty of caring for both of them but her Ghc 20 maximum daily profit from the sales of sachet water is not able to service all financial demands.
Kyerewaa defied the odds to commence a trade in plastic bowls in her house but that went down the drain on the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. She lost her capital and has since not been able to recover.
All she has is what Beatrice Nyarko, her daughter brings home from her sale of sachet water and foodstuff from individuals.
Beatrice also has the herculean task of bathing and feeding her mother whose strength appear to be failing by the tick of the clock which is having an adverse impact on the education of the teenager.
“I have to always rush home to attend to her needs. I’m unable to concentrate in class. Those I started school with are now in SHS 2 whilst I’m in JHS 2”, a worried Beatrice noted.
Millicent hopes to get prosthetic hands which she sees as the only chance to independent life.
“With that, I can be able to do things on my own even if my daughter is not around. This will help reduce the burden on her”.
Millicent will need financial assistance to raise an amount of Ghana 40,000 for the prosthetics hands.
Although Ghana has seen some level of progress in the fight against COVID-19 in recent times as compared 2020, it is far from over.
The economic implication from the pandemic has and continues to hit hard on several people especially people living with disability.
A COVID-19 Business Tracker Survey conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the World Bank in August 2020 revealed that about 770,000 workers (25.7% of the total workforce), had their wages reduced and about 42,000 employees were laid off during the country’s COVID-19 partial lockdown.
Data from the job losses in the informal sector was however not captured.
COVID-19 STIMULUS PACKAGE
Knowing that such group of people were at high risk of being left destitute without targeted assistance during and after the coronavirus lockdown, government rolled out measures to support the poor and vulnerable as well as businesses.
But Millicent did not benefit from such intervention.
“Initially I was not even aware of such intervention and later when I heard, I didn’t know who to contact and how to apply”
But the Ashanti regional office of NBSSI said it engaged a lot of Associations about the program.
“We extensively engaged several groups including Ghana Chamber of entrepreneurs with disabilities even before rolling out the intervention. This was part of awareness creation just to ensure the right people apply for the support” regional manager, Manu Bashir noted.
By Ibrahim Abubakar
The writer is a mentee under the Mobilizing Media to Fighting Covid-19 project by Journalists for Human Rights