In Nigeria, an estimated 20 million people have some kind of physical disability. They have physical problems that make it difficult to find work and hold a job. Some of the disabled end up on city streets, asking strangers for help. But in Kaduna State, a group of disabled men has been persuading others to get off the street by offering them new skills.
Our story begins outside the offices of a local charity. A group of men who are physically disabled wait there for food from the aid group. It may be the only meal they get that day. Because the men are disabled, most depend on begging in the streets to support themselves.
Aliyu Yakubu is unlike those men. He is learning job skills to earn a living wage. He is being shown how to fix tricycles and do other metal work.
The 18-year-old remembers when he decided to stop begging.
He says, “My former class prefect saw me begging on the street and didn’t recognize me. He gave me some money. When I stretched my hand out to collect it, then he saw my face. I felt ashamed, and since then, I decided not to beg again.”
Isiaka Maaji is also physically disabled. He helps people like Aliyu Yakubu get work, and get off the streets. He teaches them a trade.
He learned his skills from a government-operated training program. The program has been teaching vocational work since 2002. Five years ago, Mr. Maaji started helping other disabled people to stop begging.
He says, “We encourage people like us to learn skills they can do to become self-reliant to support themselves and their families because being in the streets as beggars is a disgrace to all of us.
To date, he has helped and trained 30 people. Some of them even have their own metal-working businesses now. They make tricycles and motor bikes designed for handicapped individuals. But that is not all they make. They also make doors and windows to sell.
Ridwan Abdillahi is a member of the Handicapped Association and a business owner. He says the group is making good quality products, but people are not buying. He says he believes many people think goods made by the disabled are not as good as those made by others.
The disabled men waiting for a meal say this is one more barrier the disabled face. They say that with the help of the government and community, they will overcome it, by bringing people’s attention to their concerns.
I’m Anne Ball.
Mohammed Yusuf reported on this story from Kaduna, Nigeria. Anne Ball adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
disabled – adj. having a physical or mental disability; unable to perform one or more natural activities
beg – v. to ask people for money or food
tricycle – n. a three-wheeled vehicle that people ride
vocational – adj. relating to special skills or training one needs for a job
disgrace – n. a loss of respect because of one’s actions or behavior