Written by: Paul M. Kanneh & Angel Morris
The after effect of ban on public gatherings and restriction on movement of people in the wake of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak is close to making life unbearable for physically challenged, the Administrator and School Principal of the Mission of Hope for the Disabled have told Bridge Radio in an exclusive interview.
“We are running out of food and water. The Liberian government, please come to our aid, Mr. President thought everything has shut down, but you need to come in before we do something insane here”, Principal of Mission of Hope for the Disabled Miata A. Godlee cries out for help.
Founded some 30-year ago, the Mission of Hope for the Disabled has over 100 disabled occupants who find life worth living together. As physically challenged persons, their survival depends on donations and other good-will gestures from philanthropists.
But now with the outbreak of the coronavirus, and subsequently ban on public gatherings coupled with restriction on the movement of people, the survival of these disabled men and women may likely be hindered due to lack of basic supplies of domestic utensils and food rations.
In an interview with Bridge Radio on Friday, March 27, 2020, two Officials of the Mission, Annie G. Sieh (Administrator) and Miata A. Godlee (Principal) did not hesitate to explain their ordeal, terming it as embarrassing for them and their donors who are somehow willing to come with aids, but unable to do so due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Liberia.
“The virus, as you never know where it comes from, is affecting the whole world because even someone out there wants to help you, they will find it difficult to move”, the soft, but eloquent School Principal, Godlee explains.
Madam Godlee urged those listening, especially the President of the Republic of Liberia, George Weah and their regular donors to see reason to quickly come in with needed support so as to prevent them from doing something “insane”.
“Mr. President thought everything has shut down, but you need to come in before we do something insane here”. We also want to appeal to those listening to help the kids, they need food and medication”, Miss. Godlee further pleaded.
According to them, the Mission of Hope for the Disabled is too big, hence, catering to more than 100 person is a huge challenge. “We want to tell the government and the world, please don’t forget about us. We have more than 100 disabled children here who need to survive, and the Liberian government please come to our aid”, both Mission’s Executives emphasized their condition.
As physically challenged persons, their problem of hardship is compounded by stigmatization and discrimination from the public. Both Annie and Miata are aware of their beauties, but face regular challenge of social discrimination such as difficulties in finding and maintaining intimate relationships.
They told Bridge Radio how men who come around them are often bullied by their colleagues for choosing to have an affair with a disabled lady, as if being disabled means you have a communicable disease. “Some time, some boys want to venture, but their friends will make mockery of them to say why are you messing around that disabled lady?
One of them said they have a relationship, but not too sure that he will stay because of the kind of public perception about their existence. “For me I have a friend, but I am not sure he will stay. Though he is an elderly man, maybe he will be matured enough to say that I should stay or he should stay, because as they keep coming around you, their friends laugh at them as if you have a disease”, the two beautiful and eloquent ladies shared their social experiences.
Notwithstanding the bullying and stigmatization, Annie and Miata believe that to be a disabled person is a normal thing. Amidst their limitations in certain things, they have enough reason to believe that they are like any other human being, so as they are able to do for themselves what pleases them each.
“Being a disabled is a normal thing because everybody likes to live the way they want it, and we as disabled, if we are able to live a life that will bring satisfaction to us and our family, is ok”. They strongly recognize that there is nothing that can stop them from doing what they want to do with their lives.
They however see as Liberia as a place of social stigmatization for persons living with disability. Both ladies described challenges of mockery and discrimination on disabled people in Liberia as alarming and sometimes unbearable. Meanwhile, Annie and Miata are both calling on Liberians to see physically challenged persons as part of them, and stop the too much social stigmatization against them.