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I became volunteer teacher so I won’t roam the street begging for alms –Kano visually- impaired man



28-year-old visually-impaired Dahiru Idris was recently given an automatic employment by the Kano State Government in recognition of his effort as a volunteer teacher. He speaks to TED ODOGWU about his motivation and future plans

How did you lose your sight?

I did not lose my sight; I was born blind.

Is there any history of blindness from birth in your family?

Of my mother’s four children and my father’s 19 children, I am the only one who is blind.

How old are you?

I’m 28 years old.

Did your parents seek any medical intervention on seeing that you were blind at birth?

My parents tried their best when I was young; they took me to different hospitals in search of treatment but all was to no avail. One of the doctors, while trying to diagnose my ailment, told my parents that he was sorry because my visual impairment had no cure. He said my eye problem was natural and I would not be able to see.

What was the experience like for you growing up?

Well, I experienced numerous untold hardships during my childhood, particularly due to lack of finance, a development that affected my education. Also, there are a lot of businesses I would have loved to venture into but I could not due to lack of finance.

What is the occupation of your father?

My father is a petty businessman, who is engaged in buying and selling of raw meat, known as power in Kano and other northern states, for survival. He cooks and hawks the meat for sale. Growing up as a blind child was very traumatic for me, as I had no alternative to depending on my parents for the provision of basic necessities of life.

What schools did you attend?

I went to the government-owned Special Education boarding school for the blind, Tudun Mari Kano. I had my primary and secondary school education there for 11 years, from Primary One to SSS 3, free of charge.

There were a lot of special educational materials or equipment needed to be purchased but being poor, my parents could not afford them. Also, my parents could not afford to buy oil for me to add to my meal due to insufficient oil added to our food, like rice and beans, in school.

Some private people visited the school to distribute beds and bedding, as well as foodstuffs to us. We ate garrin kwake (garri) when food was not served on time.

What special skills were you taught in school?

I learnt so many skills at the special school, which has a hostel. I learnt how to read and write. I was also taught how to use the stylus, typewriter and computer installed with special software. As we cannot see, the computer pronounces words as we tap on the keyboards to guide us. It is the same conventional computers but installed with special application, known as NCDE, to guide the blind. As soon one taps on the keyboard, it pronounces words.

I also learnt the orientation of how to move from place to place without using a stick. For example, if I stay within an environment for some time, I will learn how to navigate within the environment without using a stick. These are the experiences that I have garnered. Without my education in the special school, I would have been roaming the streets, begging for alms.

On finishing from Kano Special School for the Blind, what did you do next?

I proceeded to the university and I am currently in 200 Level. I am studying Political Science at the National Open University of Nigeria. It is a four-year course.

Why did you choose to study Political Science?

It is my area of interest.

What makes it interesting to you; do you plan to go into politics?

I don’t want to become a partisan politician; I would rather want to work with a non-governmental organisation or go into international relations and diplomacy, where I will be at liberty to analyse political issues as they are, using my knowledge as a political scientist.  Political Science is very dynamic and broad-based. I hope to engage in analysing political issues on radio and television.

I hope to be financially independent because if you depend on people, they will sooner than later disappoint you. I believe it is better to struggle on your own than to depend on people. If you struggle on your own, God will reward your efforts with success.

The Kano State Government recently offered you an automatic employment as a teacher, in recognition of your work as a volunteer teacher. Since your main interest is political science, what motivated you to work as a volunteer teacher?

I have been teaching voluntarily in many schools at different times for more than six years before Governor (Abdullahi) Ganduje offered me this opportunity of automatic employment, as a blind teacher. I teach subjects related to Political Science, as well as English language. This was what informed my decision to study Political Science. Many people think that a blind man cannot be beneficial to society. So, rather than begging, I decided to engage in teaching, so as to prove people wrong.

How do you hope to combine the job with your study in Political Science at NOUN?

You are aware that the National Open University of Nigeria is a distant learning institution. In view of this, I make a schedule or timetable, so as not to have any problem with my work and study. I rigidly comply with my schedule, so as not to allow my programmes to clash with the other activities.

How do you feel with the recognition given you by the government?

I felt very happy when the state government offered me automatic teaching employment and my happiness cannot be quantified. I am also currently comfortable in the sense that I am self-reliant. My endless gratitude goes to the Governor of Kano State and the Commissioner for Education for providing me with a source of livelihood, rather than for me to be roaming the streets of Kano from sunup to sundown in search of daily bread.

Do you have any plan for marriage?

Yes, I do have a fiancée.  I plan to marry her after my university education.

Is your fiancée also visually-impaired?

No, she is normal and we plan to tie the nuptial knot this year. I studied at Aminu Kano College of Islamic and Legal Studies and all my course mates and friends were born normal.

How did you meet your fiancée?

My fiancée is my student, who I met in school and she is ready to spend the rest of her life with me despite the fact that I am visually-impaired. She really takes good care of me and I enjoy staying with her.

Although, she is a student for now, she has something to offer to earn a living. In brief, she is a professional tailor. She has so many clients, who often patronise her.

Have you made marriage proposal to her?

Yes, I made a proposal of marriage to her. She really appreciates that we are going to be a couple and live in peace and harmony.

What attracted you to her?

Her extraordinary kindness attracted me to her; she is exceptionally kind to me. Also, she is very simple in terms of her attitude and temperament. Moreover, she is educated and she possesses good qualities one can find in a woman.

What was her parents’ reaction to her decision to get married to you?

Her parents accepted and supported our relationship without any bias. They encouraged our relationship when they discovered their daughter sincerely loves me and voluntarily accepted to be my life partner. To this extent, they supported and welcomed my proposal to marry their daughter.

Have you faced any form of discrimination and how did you handle it?

You know that people differ in terms of behaviour; so, some accept me, while some may not. I have been facing discrimination, especially from illiterate people, just because I am a blind man. To overcome this daunting challenge, I have to be patient enough and keep on demonstrating good qualities in the course of my relationship with people wherever I find myself. By so doing, people with disability will be highly respected and recognised everywhere we are, and this discrimination might be reduced to a minimum level.

What kind of provision do you think government should make for physically-challenged persons in Nigeria?

My call to the federal and state governments is to assist visually-impaired citizens, who have made efforts to improve themselves, to secure employment opportunities, so as to prevent them from roaming the streets in search of alms to keep body and soul together. This is the only way to encourage and prevent them from becoming street beggars, which is an embarrassment to both society and the government.

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