The best way to know what a man is passing through is to step into his shoes after all, an adage says “it is he who wears the shoes that knows where it pinches.”
How well can one appreciate what children who are limbless go through daily than to be in their shoes? A foundation recently came up with an idea and that informed the recent walk organised in the Federal Capital Territory.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade is a proverbial phrase used to encourage optimism and a positive can-do attitude in the face of adversity or misfortune. Lemons suggest sourness or difficulty in life; making lemonade is turning them into something positive or desirable.
Out on a limb according to the dictionary, is having an opinion that is different from most people’s and is unpopular: She’s going out on a limb in criticizing her own party leadership.
But Irede Foundation’s child amputee awareness walk tagged “Out-on-a-Limb”, in this case is criticising lack of inclusiveness in the work place and education institutions, it is criticising discrimination and pity. The foundation founded in 2012 by Mrs. Crystal Chigbu, is to ensure that every child amputee is given a chance to become a champion and live above the limitations of missing limbs, whether it is congenital or acquired.
Abuja was one of the 30 locations across the country in which the “out on a limb” walk took place and the Federal Capital Territory residents, who don’t joke with their weekends, came out in their numbers. In their minds, this was one cause they were willing to sacrifice their sleep for.
As early as 7am on Saturday, April 13, children, teenagers, young adults, mothers, journalists and even a lawmaker, were out to support a good cause. In the mid of laughter and fun, dancing and walking, in the midst of attempting to stand on one leg (trying to have a feel of a life of an amputee), the message was clear, “inclusiveness not pity”, is a “limb loss not brain dead.”
The founder of Emerge Women, Mary Ikoku, who led the Abuja walk, explained that it was to raise funds for children living with limb losses and children with amputees: “As we are walking, we are creating awareness and people are also sending money to the foundation and when we create awareness like this, people reach out to the foundation and donate to them.
“We have children that are born with limb losses, some had accident some due to issues they have to amputate their limbs.”
She explained that the foundation was founded out of an inspiration of a mother who gave birth to a child with limb loss and this woman and her husband took about two years to eventually come to reality that they had to amputate the leg of their little child:
“The message is that there are children living with limb losses, their arms and legs amputated. They do not need pity but inclusion. Show them love, their strength is in their brains not limbs. So support children amputees, support parents with amputees and make sure that you show them support and encouragement.”
Senator Dino Melaye, who was also part of the walk said: “I am glad to be here. Nigerians should be compassionate about things like this.”
Aisha Yusufu, one of the activists in the Bring Back Our Girls group, said: “We are out on a limb. For some it is a reality that they are without a limb while we try to do it for fun. It is a sobering moment for us, the least we can do is show love, no one should be discriminated against.”
African Women in Leadership Organisation (AWLO) coordinator, Nanneh Kemte-Giadom, said the walk was an awareness campaign for children who have limb defect either by accident or by birth: “We are trying to create awareness for them and also raise funds towards buying limbs for child amputees. When you create awareness people ask questions, they want to know where they can donate and help these children.
“In Nigeria for example, we have cases whereby children are very ill but their parents have refused them taking off the limbs that is causing the problem, there is this stigma attached to not having a limb. This awareness is to let people know that if there is a problem that requires the limb to be taking off, let be taken off.”
Rachel Banigold, who brought so much live into the walk with her dancing skills though she is without her left limb said: “We are out on a limb to create awareness for children that are just like me. If you don’t know what is a limb loss, take a look at me we have children that are without limbs. So please, whatever you can do to help them, please help.”
Glory Ohagwu of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), said: “You know that moment you come in contact with someone who is without a limb? We are saying, no pity, it is all inclusiveness. They are out on a limb not brains. So in your office, make it all inclusive, be an advocate, include them in the scheme of things, because it is a limb not brain.
“We are saying, the loss of a limb should not be the basis an intelligent person goes for an interview and gets rejected, we say no to all forms of discrimination and say yes to inclusiveness.”