- We commend those who rescued the amputee water hawker; like Lagos, other state govts should remember the many voiceless others
In what seems like a glimmer of hope in the very dark social tragedies in the country, the story of Mary Daniel, the 2006 amputee victim of a car accident that claimed both her parents seems to have providence smile at her in compensation.
Stripped of any parental care at a tender age of 10, the burden of her upbringing fell on her grandmother. At 20, her grandmother gave her out in marriage to a man who promised to love her and take care of her. She got pregnant and found herself fending for both the man and herself. Then the baby was born and the man totally abdicated his responsibility. Mary then took her destiny into her hands and decided to go to Onitsha to eke out a living.
While hawking water in Asaba, Delta State, a good Nigerian helped raise about N500,000 for her to start a business. The so-called father of her baby took her phone and ATM and ran away with all her money. She then decided to come to Lagos to continue to struggle.
Just last week, technology and the human spirit worked in her favour as one Mr. Ibitoye Ayodele Adeniyi met her around the Bolade Market in Oshodi, Lagos. The sight of the one-legged lady eagerly hawking sachet water under the sun caught his attention and he took her pictures and posted them on his Facebook page. Mary’s story went viral and help poured in from across Nigeria and abroad. More than N14m at the time had been raised for her. The Lagos State government, through the Office of Civic Engagement, is taking over her case and has expressed willingness to offer her accommodation and other safety assistance. Mr. Victor Anukam of Purple Prosthetics has promised to get Mary a limb.
We appreciate the gifts but her story remains one of the signs for the dysfunctional system we run. Her story is not unusual to those living with disabilities in the country where governments at all levels often do not provide amenities. For every Mary, there are a million others without a voice to amplify their cries.
Most women are often exploited and abandoned like Mary. We would want a manhunt for the callous man who abandoned her. It is tough already being a woman, living with disabilities comes with a multitude of challenges that governments at all levels can help alleviate by assisting them with either scholarships or skills acquisition so they can be productively independent.
Lagos State government must be commended for creating an agency for the people living with disabilities headed by a female aide to the governor who is herself living with disability. Their civilc engagement unit is equally commendable as it gives a human face to governance. Mary is not an indigene of Lagos but the government has adopted her. That is an example of what humanity should propel in us all.
We find it curious too that some politicians are trying to leverage the media blitz for Mary to seek to donate when there are no records of their taking any action in their own communities to help some of the Marys there. It would be nice to have them start their charity from home.
We equally commend Mary for her sense of industry. She worked to feed her grandmother and daughter. She took her fate in her hands and struggled to eke out a living before providence smiled on her. Some of her kind would have wallowed in self-pity and resorted to begging and being a burden on others. She said she wanted to live to give her daughter a better life than she has. That is an example of a truly thoughtful parent. It is a miracle how she even carried pregnancy on one leg. She is just an inspiration to others, of the value of determination and hard work.
We equally hope that she would be very careful with all that she will be getting from people and possibly give back too.
The focus must not just be on Mary and her good fortune, there are ancillary issues the country as a whole must address. We thank those that highlighted her plight and those who responded to ameliorate it.