Changing Narratives: Disability and Identity l Eno Okpo

01 September, 2020 | Rachita Sharma

“You can be the bridge to someone’s tomorrow. So, make today count.”

I remember a little girl, Rebecca, living in a remote Nigerian village. She couldn’t walk & had no access to a wheelchair. I resonated with her because I struggled growing up in the face of disabilities resulting from Polio. More so than these physical challenges, the way people look at you eats at your soul. Their stares of pity and fear are humiliating. The lack of empathy makes you feel helpless and almost not human. Where I come from, communities don’t rally behind kids who can’t pull their weight. Instead, they ostracise & abuse them.

Through E-enable, I commit to raising awareness about people with special needs. In 2007, I started the organization to educate families of disabled kids. I give my heart & energy to explain how those with disabilities are just like others but their needs are just a bit different. These children will respond beautifully to your patience, love, and support. With a loving family, they too can grow up and live a fulfilling life. I often share stories of Helen Keller, Stephen Hawking, Frida Kahlo, Franklin D Roosevelt, and others who have transcended their special needs through the determination, kindness, and support of their close ones.⠀

A person’s disability does not define their personality unless you allow it to. I have been trying to help those in need to develop skills that enable them to live independently. I remember a young woman whose father was afraid of what would happen to his precious daughter when he was gone. She went on to become my best student. She now makes and sells cardigans to support herself. Knowing that I contributed to her self-sufficiency and that she is doing well gives me inner peace.⠀

Our struggles make us stronger. Purpose gives us the strength to keep going. I tell people “search and identify your purpose!” We were all put on this earth with gifts & a special mission to share them. E-enable is a gift to the world. I dedicate my life to women and children with special needs. When they control their own lives and change for the better, I smile because I can see how my resolve to positively change the world shines brighter.

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