Four-year-old Abdullahi Umar’s story is a lesson in self-esteem, courage, goal setting, determination and focused action

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    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. Read Also: National Assembly not dictatorial – Abdullahi “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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