FROM WHERE I STAND: “BEING PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED WILL NOT LIMIT MY ABILITY TO LEARN AND BE PRODUCTIVE, I WILL THINK EQUAL.”

Date: Monday, March 25, 2019

FROM WHERE I STAND: “BEING PHYSICALLY CHALLENGED WILL NOT LIMIT MY ABILITY TO LEARN AND BE PRODUCTIVE, I WILL THINK EQUAL.”

Hawa Koroma 50, is a physically challenged widow and mother living in Kenema  in the Eastern Part of Sierra Leoneat No 31 Krooma street with her three children, the first daughter Josephine Kajua is 20, Ibrahim Smart is 6, and Kadijatu Koroma is 3. She is a seem stress by profession. She attended the national women’s conference on March 7 2019 to discuss and reflect on issues affecting women and also participated in a march on International Women’s Day in Kenema in the East of Sierra Leone.

HAWA KOROMA sierra leone
Hawa Koroma: Photo: UN Women/Cecil Nelson

Date:Tuesday 12 March 2019

Hawa Koroma: Photo: UN Women/Cecil Nelson

“I was born a normal child, I used to run and play with my friends and even go to the stream to fetch water. It was one day that I just feel down and I couldn’t walk anymore, I could not use my right hand and foot. I was operated on and after I began to use crouches.

I was told by a friend called mariatu Kandeh to get involved in some sewing training, so that was how I enrolled at Mary’s Togetherness, an institute run by a seem stress that was providing support and training for the physically challenged. I was trained for one year in sewing, even though it was not easy because of my condition, I persevered and gave my all. Before, I couldn’t earn any money due to the fact that I was very complacent limiting myself because of my inability to walk, I thought working to earn money was out of my league. Even cloths to wear, I relied on used cloths from people. When you are physically challenged people pity you and drop you coins or sometimes they will just laugh at you and make faces or even shun you especially when you need a push or help. Men even want to take advantage of my situation by seducing me with money.

It is even challenging for me to use my wheel chair because its old and very strenuous to use, it got broken some time ago and even though it has been fixed, it’s not working as it used to. It’s really hard to pull forward or backwards because I have to use my hands to move the pedals.

However now I can be very boastful that I can sew well and make my own money, sometimes I make up to $ 500 a month and even more. Now I’m able to feed myself and my children and pay their school fees and make some savings. I now do window curtains, chair backs, dresses, etc. I have been able to also train up to 80 women in eight batches of ten each. I have been sewing now for the past ten years and I feel great and empowered especially with the support UN Women has been giving me empowering with knowledge of gender equality and for us to know our rights as women and vie for political positions. Being physically challenged will not limit my ability to learn and be productive, I will think equal. l will try hard to support other women who want to take leadership roles by voting and giving moral support even to my physically challenged mates so we can foster change. According to this year’s 2019 International women’s Day theme which is “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for change” we need to indeed start thinking equal and I want to say that I believe I can do what able bodied people can do, I just need the support and patience to help me achieve my dreams.”

SGD 5,8,10