Four-year-old Abdullahi Umar’s story is a lesson in self-esteem, courage, goal setting, determination and focused action. Born without hands in Nasarawa local government area, Nasarawa State, Abdullahi has demonstrated that limiting conditions are surmountable.
He has learned to write with his toes, after rejecting a beggar’s life, and insisting on getting an education. For a boy his age, and in his challenging circumstances, he has done enough to deserve the support of helpers as he struggles to overcome childhood adversity.
“But for the intervention of other people, my father wanted to throw me into the river; that I was not a human being,” Abdullahi was quoted as saying. “When I escaped that attempt with the support of my grandmother who moved me and my mother to her house where I am staying presently, they refused to send me to school.” His father, Musa Umar, could not live with the reality of his deformity, and chased away mother and child.
Abdullahi added: “They thought I would never be reasonable and decided that they would use my deformity to make money by putting me in a wheel barrow and pushing around to collect money from generous people around. I vehemently resisted it, that I wanted to go to school. My parents thought I would never be reasonable to do anything in life no matter how hard I tried.”
The idea that a deformed child is doomed to beggary is unreasonable, and Abdullahi’s case should serve as an instructive instance. It is remarkable that he appreciates the value of education at such an early age. Ironically, and sadly, his parents, who were supposed to know better, reflected the kind of unprogressive thinking that is common in certain parts of the country.
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“Their refusal to send me to school touched me and hardened my resolve to make it in school at all cost when I finally got the opportunity to be enrolled in the school by the head teacher,” Abdullahi said.
It is commendable that the head teacher of LGEA Central School, Mrs Habibat Abdullahi, gave the boy a chance. By her important intervention, she showed that physically challenged people need every help they can get to make their lives better. “The most crippling disease is ignorance,” she observed.
The beauty of Abdullahi’s story is that he creatively overcame his handicap by learning to write with his toes. It is an inspiring feat. According to him, “On my first day in school, I realised that I needed to write, which requires the use of hands. But considering my situation, this became a big challenge for me. At that point, nobody, including the head teacher, thought I could use my toes to write. But I did and am doing it perfectly.
“During classes, my mates write in their exercise books with their hands. It was quite difficult for me until I summoned courage to make use of my toes to write. At first, it was difficult, but gradually, I picked up… It was actually a tough time for me, but I later found a way around it. The passion for success is pushing me on in the face of different obstacles.”
Obviously, Abdullahi needs more assistance to be able to achieve the success he desires. Importantly, the Nasarawa State government should ensure that his education continues uninterrupted. He should be encouraged to aspire to the highest level of education he is mentally capable of. Beyond government involvement, there is room for other helpers in the society to play a role in his development.
Indeed, Abdullahi’s story is a call to action. The physically challenged children in our midst should not be condemned to a life of underdevelopment.
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COVID-19: Relief materials to get to Lagos, Abuja, Ogun before midnight, says Minister
Faith Yahaya, Abuja
Following the presidential directive to ease the sufferings of the vulnerable that might be affected by the lockdown following the outbreak of COVID-19, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq said trucks conveying relief materials have been deployed to affected states.
She said the trucks are expected to arrive at the affected states before the end of Monday.
She also hinted that she has commenced talks with state governors to ensure the continuation of the National Home Grown School feeding programme as directed by President Buhari.
The Minister disclosed this in Abuja while the Presidential Taskforce on control of COVID-19 briefed on measures put in place to ensure the total lockdown.
On how the relief materials would be distributed, Farouq said: “In paragraph 49 of the speech, Mr. President said that resident’s of satellite and commuter towns and communities around Lagos and Abuja whose livelihoods will surely be affected by this measures, we should deploy relief materials to ease their pains in the coming weeks.
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“To achieve this, we must identify and reach the target of such communities and residents using available data at our disposal. This we have started doing, NEMA has deployed all the trucks, they are on-site and before the end of today (Monday), these trucks carrying relief materials will be deployed to these affected states of Lagos, Ogun, and Abuja.”
On how the school feeding programme would be implemented despite the closure of schools, she said: “In paragraph 50 of Mr. President’s speech, he directed that our ministry works with the relevant state governments in developing a strategy on how to sustain the school feeding programme.
“We will be doing this and I have already started contacting the governors on agreeing on the modalities to adopt. I have accordingly contacted the programme heads of the programme and this may have to go beyond the affected states because as we are aware, all schools are closed down and children are at home. So, we are looking at modalities to see how we will extend this directive beyond the states where the lockdown has affected.”
Farouq also said the three months moratorium for all Tradermoni, Marketmoni, and Farmermoni would be immediate.
“Mr. President in paragraph 51 of his speech directed that a three months repayment moratorium for all Tradermoni, Marketmoni, and Farmermoni loans be implemented with immediate effect. We have already carried out the directive and we have contacted the officials handling the programme and we have directed that they implement this immediately.
“In paragraph 54 of Mr. President’s speech, he directed that the conditional cash transfers be given in advance of two months. This, we have also called the programme heads and we have directed that we start immediate payment of the cash transfer to the poorest and vulnerable households in our country.
“Let me reiterate here that because of COVID-19, the vulnerable groups have to be expanded because we have people who live on a daily wish and we are going to look at those groups of people to see how we can take the food relief intervention to these affected areas.”
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- Abdullahi’s feat