By Ola Ajayi, Ibadan
Fate dealt a cruel blow on Prosphen Okiemute Dumi in Senior Secondary School 1 when she suddenly became deaf.
Dumi, who is still yet to understand what actually led to her deafness, tried all she could, spiritually and medically, to reject the unsolicited offer of deafness, but all her efforts did not yield result.
Narrating her story, she said, “I don’t know up till now. The deafness just came suddenly. I don’t know why I’m deaf”.
Just like any other human who cannot control what fate has to offer, she accepted her cross and forged ahead.
But due to her condition, she had to withdraw from the conventional school she was attending to join the Christian Mission School for the Deaf located at Plot 78, Commercial Reservation, Onireke, Ibadan where she had to learn how to adjust to her new life.
Being a very brilliant girl, it was not difficult for her to learn sign language which is a core course for deaf students. When she showed excellent performance, the school management allowed her to be in SS3 and she distinguished herself later when she sat for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination.
As an indigent student, fate, this time, was lenient with her. She applied for a scholarship which she got.
Dumi applied for admission into the University of Ibadan (UI) which she got without much difficulty.
Again, she displayed uncommon brilliance in the Faculty of Law of UI as she graduated with Second Class Upper Division. Then, another hurdle threatened her dream as the Law School in Lagos did not have provision for interpreter who would determine her success there.
Luckily, she got another scholarship which provided an interpreter.
At the Christian Mission School for the Deaf, her alma mater, she was celebrated being the first alumnus to achieve the feat of becoming a lawyer in the school.
She used the opportunity to encourage other students in the school not to lose faith and focus in their life ambitions.
‘How I became deaf’
She told them that being deaf is not the end of life.
Dumi said, “I’m from Delta State and I am happy to be celebrated today. I wasn’t born deaf but somewhere along the line, I lost my hearing. It happened to me when I was in SS1. It disorganized me because there was no sign whatsoever. I went to hospital and tried all I could, but there was no solution.
“It was then someone told me about the Christian Mission School for the Deaf which was founded by the late Dr Andrew Foster, a deaf black American, in May 1960.
“In 2009, I joined the school and, because of my brilliance, I was allowed to join SS3 and I did well in my final exams. I went for an exam in Lagos and I got a scholarship which I used till I got to 400 Level. As luck would have it, I was able to get another scholarship thereafter.
After my graduation from UI, I went to Law School in Lagos. But, when I got there, I found out there was no interpreter and, without an interpreter, there’s no way I could continue. God showed up again as a scholarship I applied for got an interpreter for me. I will be eternally grateful to my good interpreter, my lecturers and all teachers of Christian Mission School for the Deaf.”
At the end of her course in Law School, Dumi said she made Second Class Upper Division.
In saner climes, having tried come this far to scale her disability, and becoming somebody in life, getting a job ordinarily should not be an issue for her. But she is unemployed.
The lady, who is still single, later in an interview with Sunday Vanguard, appealed to the Federal Government, state governments across the country, corporate bodies and well-to-do individuals to help her get a good job that would make her forget the trauma she has gone through. With her two hands together, she asked kind-hearted people to come to her aid so that she would not end up doing what she has spent all her life fighting against – begging for alms on the streets.
She gave her phone number (sms and WhatsApp only) 09082742305 to Sunday Vanguard in case anyone wishes to reach her for job.
The management of the school, which has graduated over 3,000 students many of whom are doing well in their chosen professions, said, through its Supervisor, Mr Peter Obadare, it has proved, to a very large extent, that disability is not the end of one’s life but rather an impetus that moves one to greater heights.
The Chairman, Board of Trustees of the school, Mr Silas Eke, said, at the event, “Success has many friends but failure is an orphan. If you want to have friends, be determined to be successful. The belief of some people that if you are deaf, you are a lost person is not true.”
Eke cited many examples of successful deaf people who are lawyers abroad, civil servants and lecturers.
“In fact, deafness is not a disadvantage but an advantage. A deaf student once told me that ‘when I sit down to study, no noise can disturb me.’ Noise, bad news don’t disturb the deaf. They live in a silent world”, the Chairman said.
To the students of the school, he advised them to make up their minds to be celebrated like Dumi.
The Legal Adviser of the school, Niyi Eniola, Principal and Supervisor encouraged the students to strive to be the best.