Growing up someone with disability is a big challenge because of communication, ways of behaving and interaction.
When I was growing up, my best friend was disabled due to meningitis attack when he was 9 months old. It affected him in a way he could neither talk nor hear. we were neighbours and he had that complexity that people don't like him because of his situation. He used to visit us and when he is talking, my cousins will imitate and laugh at him and when he notices it, he started avoiding them after realising that I was the only one trying to pay attention to what he use to say. He started coming closer to me and we'll be talking together and that's how I Will be struggling to talk and make action. It wasn't easy but I was trying my little best to make him feel better. All this happened while I was staying with my anuty.
When I left my anuty's house and was huzzeling for my life, he to stopped going to the house. When I went to secondary school, I met another friend with disability but this time not with hearing impairments but using couches to walk and always isolating herself from other school mates.
When I discovered that she was always alone and when classes are over she will sit at the school gate and wait for the taxi to come pick her up. At times the driver will come very late at about 6p.m. and she will be sitting at the school gate all alone.
When I realized that, that what's happening, I had to prepare my self for a forceful friend ship so I can be paying her company. While going closer to her and being scared that she might not pay attention or listen to me because she was so quiet, hardly talk, smile and she was always alone.
Before my first encounter with her, it wasn't easy due to her appearance and countenance, but I said to myself Honorine you can do it and I took a deep breath three times and since I grew up learning and doing things all by my self, I just said to myself father lead me through.
When I approached her, I great "boo good morning" and she responded and the next thing I ask was, which subject do we have this morning pretending not to know the subject and she responded calmly it is Maths. I processed have you finished the History assignment. She said no and I told her I didn't understand what was asked. She said during break I should meet her and let her explain better to me.
During break I didn't meet her because I wanted us to discuss after school so I can use the opportunity to talk more and get to know each other. After classes, we now met at the gate where we had a lot to talk about and express ourselves.
The next day I changed my seat and sat near her because I discovered that she was so bright and each time I don't understand any thing that is said by the teacher during lectures, I just turned to her and ask and I she can't explain she tells me to ask the teacher and that she too have not understood.
From then I told my self that each time classes are over I will be by her till the driver picks her up.
Through our discussion I told her all about me and she too opened up to me and told me she was attacked by polio when she was 2yrs old and that her siblings and her mother sees her as an outcast and that only her father tries talking to her. So she always in her room and she has no friend because she knows she does not belong to the society. I ask her if its her mindset or someone told her that. She said, her family makes her believe so. I told her that her taught have proven her wrong because I am your friend and you are my friend as well. Here she kept quiet. That I didn't know what was in her mind.
When our discussion was flowing fluently, I brought up a topic concerning food and different types of food and unconsciously she disclosed her favour meal to me. In line I also as for the direction to their house. When she asked me why I am asking for the direction, I told her I would like to visit her. Really!!! in a surprise. I said yes.
Over the weekend I prepared her favourite meal and went to their house and she was so happy and told me she didn't believe me and she didn't know somebody out there could even say good morning to her talkless of visiting. She also said that her siblings and her mother were all surprise at my visit.
We became so intimate such that we couldn't stay for a day with out seeing each other and I will always be the one visiting.
I had a school mate in primary school were we happen to meet in the same secondary school and since he knew we also became friends and now we were three of us. But at the end of the I was happy because he finally fell in love with my friend after we left high school and and this boy start visiting too.
Though they didn't end up but I am happy my friend is in the U.S. and she has two children (twins).
Supporting a person or people to speak on behalf of the people who is/are incapable of speaking up for themselves are being an advocate is more influential for equality and participation especially for people with disabilities. They just need a little love and attention to come out of the shell.