By Thompson Charlie Yamput
Love, like a coin, which has two different sides, can be sweet and bitter depending on what fate presents at a particular time. All the same all human beings desire to be loved and cherished especially by people around them.
Love warms the spirit mind and heals the wounded heart as well as lightens the spirit of every being.
Love also gives hope to the hopeless, which explains why people rely on round anyone that has a misfortune or is in a dilemma. No wonder virtually all the aims and objectives of most Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are geared toward rendering selfless services to humanity.
In most fora of some NGOs, the emphasis is on showing Love in one way or the other, especially in forms of assistance to the less privileged or those facing one problem or the other such as the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), the aged, women and children, Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) and the poor amongst others.
This mindset is indeed germaine because love is what the less privileged, the poor, the sick, the bereaved, and the PwDs desire most from the society in which they live in.
But looking at the PwDs, aside from the love they expect the society to show to them, that love from relations, friends and colleagues’ matter to them most. This is because as humans, they look forward to the future and fulfilment of their dreams and destinies.
Therefore, anyone around them should see them as would any able-bodied person and not with disdain.
“I married my husband because he was always there for me while in school then,” Mrs Martha Joseph, a PwD, and mother of a child living in Anyigba, Kogi state.
She said that she and her husband were in the same secondary school as young students. “It was there (school) that I experienced the kind of love any person in my condition would have wished for.”
“Although there were many beautiful able-bodied girls around, my would-be husband chose to develop an interest in me and was always there for me.
“At first, I thought it was out of pity that he was always there for me to help me overcome some of my challenges as PWD, but as the clock ticks on, I realized it was more than that.
“We fell in love and that love lightened my spirit and gave me the courage to study hard and not to fail my examinations. It was indeed so warm a love that shortly after completing our Ordinary Level, we got married.
“But that doesn’t mean that the relationship was without its bitter and agonizing part. My mother-in-law, at first, was vehemently against the relationship and marriage. It took her time, almost four years before she accepted to have me as her daughter-in-law.
“To the glory of God, in 2013, I got wedded to my heartthrob and today we have issues that are free of any deformity.
My pain and concern are that I am doing nothing to support my struggling, hardworking and loving husband,” Martha stated.
In contrast to Mrs Joseph’s love life, which began in school, Another PWD, Mr Ibrahim Aromeh,, Chairman, Kogi Disability Board, said he began at a wedding ceremony, particularly his younger brother’s wedding, which took place in the village.
He said he was in the family house, where everyone there, was busy with wedding preparations with relations attending to visitors, both family members like me and well-wishers.
“I was there keenly watching how things were going on and noticed this particular girl working so hard. The most interesting and loving thing about her was the special attention she gave to me. She was there for me making sure I miss nothing being shared around in the house such as food and drinks.
“In fact, I was moved to ask who exactly she is? The answer was so good because I got to know that she is a sister to an in-law of ours. Right there I told my sister that I am interested in her.
“Of course, thereafter, we hid the road of love and began acting the Romeo and Juliet for good five years before walking down the aisle, tying the nut for better and for worst.”
“My wife is like my mother to me. She so much loves me such that she is always there for me not allowing me to lack the help that I need as a PWD. There’s no place I am going that she wouldn’t want to follow she isn’t ashamed to be seen outside as the wife of a disabled person.
“Wherever I am going she follows just to ensure that all is well with me. At times I have to beg her to stay back assuring her that I can go alone or that it’s not the two of us that are being invited.
“The love she demonstrates towards me has strengthened me and sometimes I feel as if I am complete without any disability.
“I really appreciate God for not allowing my father-in-law to stand our way during our courtship. It was his earlier resistance to the friendship that our courtship dragged to five years before our marriage, which is blessed with a baby girl, ”
To Mr Joash Onemajin, a Politician and Farmer from Kabbah-Bunu Local Government Area of Kogi, the love is shown to him by his in-laws and relations is what kept him alive after a ghastly motor accident he had some years back.
According to him, he lost his two legs in that accident and only move about with the aid of a wheelchair.
“At first, it was so difficult for my wife to keep on in the house as a wife of a disabled person. But thank God, with the encouragement from hers and my relations, she gradually came to terms with the reality and accepted it as her fate.
“Honestly, I am so grateful to my in-laws, who stood by us and ensure that my misfortune does not affect my marriage in any way. Today, my wife has overcome that challenge and she’s always there for me even though she works in Abuja.
“You can’t believe that we have seven children that we catering for yet God doesn’t allow us to lack the resources to keep the home moving on. Thank God I am into farming. I have a Poultry farm and farm Maize and Yams every year besides playing some politics, ” he said.
Though love seems to be abid fair to Martha, Arome, and Onemajin, the experiences of Ms Blessed Blessing and Bilikisu Yakubu, both spinsters were bitter and agonizing.
While blessed, a young undergraduate student of Federal University of Lokoja (FUL), who limps, has been jilted twice, Bilikisu said joking “I can say I have been jilted 100 times.” Their stories are full of pain and worries over how society is treating them despite their conditions as PwDs.
“You can’t believe it that someone I so much loved, trusted, and courted for about five years, recently ditched me for another able-bodied lady. He is a servant of God, who preaches on the pulpit, yet he jilted me after giving me hope, ” Blessed narrated with pain in her heart.
“Do you know as we speak, l do not know why I should be treated that way. I am not sure if anybody in his family that could have been against my relationship with him to have warranted his action.. All I know was that when l realized he was relying on my financial support to him, I asked questions and began to reduce the support.
“I asked him whether it’s me he truly love or my financial support, which appears to be the backbone of our relationship. Of course, when I stopped the financial support, he withdrew. And the next thing I could see was his post on the social media: Facebook showing his photo and that of another girl.
“The post announces their engagement, which really shocked me to my bone marrow. The question that came mind is, what did he take me to be? And when did the relationship with that girl state to the extent that they got engaged in just few days after he stopped seeing me?
“I’m still in shock. But what such able-bodied persons don’t know is that there is nothing they have that is lacking in a PWD. The Truth is that what a PwD can do the able-bodied person can’t do it. God has given us Special hearts and ability to do the impossible.
“As young as I am into production of many things including bits, pomade, soaps and snacks that are helping me raise some money to assist my parents in sponsoring my education and those of my siblings.
“Though I am worried over the second failure of my relationship with men, I believe that’s not the end of life for me. I strongly believe that there is hope for me,’ says the fair and beautiful looking undergraduate student.
Beauty, they say is in the eyes of the beholder. But Love, which they say is blind, is indeed what makes life of every human being tantalizing and sweet and to some extent serves as a shock obsorber to pains and sorrows. Even in the scripture “love covers all multitudes of sins.”
Blessed said though pained by the attitude of her lover, she has forgiven him as a supposed good Christian that she is and have left it behind her and now moving forward with her life.
Bilikisu Yakubu, who jokes about her bitter experiences with men, said men don’t know what they are missing in PWDs. She said her pain is the way and manner some men look at PWDs women.
“To some men, we are but sex tools that could be used and dumped anyhow. That’s a very wrong and unfair perspective because we are very pure, clean, very productive, and of good character that can make up a good housewife and not sex machines.
“We deserve to be loved and taken care of to help fulfill our dreams and not to be hurt or wounded in the heart by jilters and uncaring men.
“Although I have suffered many rejections by men, whom I refused the opportunity to mess me up, I am into another relationship, a more serious and strong hi one.
“The guy is very serious about the relationship and has proposed to me and by God’s grace, we shall soon tie the nut,” Bilikisu disclosed.
Mr Chad Cunningham a PWD in Peoria Illinois, Easterseals Development Department has a word of advice to his fellow PWDs, himself having passed through some bitter relationships while growing up.
“My biggest dating advice to anyone with a disability is to love yourself first, respect yourself, and be willing to share who you are and where you want to go. Don’t be afraid of rejection and keep the faith. The right person is out there, ” Chad advised in a report anchored by Jackie Orihill.
Narrating his experience, Chad said after suffering loneliness, women started to ask him out. He realized that the biggest barrier to his dating was his attitude.
“My concern was about being defined by my disability, and I was judged for it, such that I wasn’t being open about it.
“In the end I decided not to be afraid to talk about my disability to enjoy the warm love of the women and people around me,” he said