By Chioma Obinna
The Executive Director of The Irede Foundation, Mrs. Crystal Chigbu, has identified stigma and discrimination as major problems facing persons living with limb loss and their families.
To empower people living with limb loss and reduce stigma and discrimination, the Foundation has given out over 186 prosthetic legs and has engaged over 300 families across the country.
According to Chigbu who also has a child that is disabled at a press conference in Lagos, there were a lot of disability cases in Nigeria but their parents tend to make it private because of fear of how they would be addressed in public.
She recalled that there was a lot of stigma and discrimination not even for her child but for her as people called her ‘Iya Aro’ (mother of disable) and a lot of unpleasant names.
“Stigma is one thing we are still fighting and what we have done in the last eight years is public awareness on disability, even when some parents are bold enough and they are not given the opportunity but rather they are discriminated against. We are sensitising to know that disability is not the making of the person living with a disability. Disability is not taboo. There are a lot of messages we are putting into the public space to make sure discrimination and stigmatisation can get to the barest minimum.
“The government has made a law for persons living with disability and we are currently working on that law to help the society understand it.
“We are organising a programme with the families of the amputees and the caregivers where we will be connecting physically and virtually where they can share their issues. We’re working on it to ensure the ability of the children living with a disability is developed,” she said.
Nothing that the Foundation was named after her child, Ireoluwade Beulah Chigbu, explained that the foundation had in the past eight years committed to fighting stigmatisation by engaging in public enlightenment programmes and increased awareness campaigns on ability in disability.
Chigbu, further explained that people suffering from diabetes and congenital deformity are at great risk of being amputated when involved in an accident.
“When you check what causes amputation in general, the congenital deformity is about three to four per cent; diabetes is the highest-ranking cause with about 34 per cent; next is trauma which could have been avoided. When an accident occurs, people believe they can arrange bones and by the time they get to the bone setter, it becomes another story entirely.