An Interview with a Beneficiary

Mr Okafor at the eventThis is the interview granted by Mr. Innocent Okafor to SEOF Communication department at Barn Hills Resort Awka where Sir Emeka Offor Foundation distributed Crutches and Wheelchairs to polio survivors to aid them move independently. This is one of the activities by the foundation in October as a build up to marking World Polio Day on 24th October.

SEOF: Can we meet you sir?
Mr. Okafor: My Name is Innocent Okafor, a civil servant with Anambra state government and a polio survivor.
SEOF: Why are you here today sir?
Mr. Okoafor: I am here for world polio week and the event organized by Rotary club International being sponsored by Chief Emeka Offor.
SEOF: Like How Many beneficiaries are here today to benefit from wheelchairs and crutches distribution?
MR. Okafor: I think there are about three hundred beneficiaries present already.
SEOF: Sir in view of what SEOF is doing, how do you describe their activities and achievements?
Mr. Okafor: The activities of the foundation is really good and that is the kind of foundation we are advocating for. As u know, persons with disability in Nigeria are being discriminated upon by some individuals, groups and even the society. So SEOF is one of the groups I want to get involved in educating people that people with disability belong to our everyday society and that they have some contributions to input towards greater Nigeria. For example, if persons with disability are given jobs and some trained in skill acquisitions, they will contribute by way of tax payment and when they do that, they have contributed in the growth of our society. In communities, they can participate by paying community dues like rates, levies and participate in other economic activities beneficiary to the society. So Sir Emeka Offor Foundation is really trying for us, like today they are distributing mobility aid to persons with disability. So I thank them very well for their wonderful achievement and I also encourage them to do more because there more need to be done. Persons with disability need to be trained in various skills but I thank them for their achievement so far.
SEOF: When you talk about people with disability being trained in skill acquisition, can you please tell us some of the skills you think they can be trained in for them to contribute the way they want to in the society?
Mr. Okafor: Ok thank you. Persons with disability can be trained in different skills like shoe making, radio/television mechanic, computer engineering, auto mechanics which deaf and dumb can do, vulcanizing, welding, and many other skills they can do.
SEOF: I hope you wouldn’t mind some personal questions. At what age was it discovered that you have been affected by polio?
Mr. Okafor: It was when I was a year old.
SEOF: Can you describe growing up in a society where the disabled and are not taking good care of and how difficult mobility was for you before the establishment of organization like Sir Emeka Offor Foundaation. Describe how difficult it was for you going to school, church and getting involved with other normal societal activities?
Mr. Okafor: It was not easy, when it was discovered I had polio, my parents they tried their best because they never thought of abandoning me because of polio. They encouraged me, even when I got to the age of going to school, they had to take me to school on bicycle and pick me after school with it and this continued until I was able to use crutches. I never see myself limited by the disease or discriminated upon because I joined my childhood friends to do everything they did even following them to the bush to hunt so I was never limited by my condition though challenging but I conquered it.
SEOF: What impact do you think these gifts of crutches and wheelchair by Sir Emeka Offor Foundation have in the lives of polio survivors?
Mr. Okafor: It will have great impact in their lives. By giving them mobility aid will encourage them to live independently and move around. They can go to church, school for those who are still going to school, meet friend because if they are not given mobility aid, they cannot move around. This will definitely help them to move to places without looking for people to take them around and will not have to drop out of school or not acquiring skill due to immobility.
SEOF: What advice do you have for financially capable men out there to emulate from Sir EMeka Offor Foundation?
Mr. Okafor: My advice to them is that helping people with disability is one of the things God gave them money to do and not throwing their money into some unnecessary thing. When I say helping people with disability I don’t mean giving them money on the street but helping them to live independent life, helping them to start taking care of themselves without waiting for hand out from people. They can train them in school, pay for their skill acquisition, providing them with mobility aid and contribute meaningfully to Nigerian society. In fact, they should study Sir Emeka Offor Foundation and see how they have been able to help people with disability especially polio survivors meaningfully.
SEOF: Two days ago, Nigeria was declared Ebola free by World Health Organization (WHO) and we have had only 6 cases of polio in Nigeria as against same time last year when we had 52 cases showing significant improvement in the fight against polio. Now tell us how eager and happy you will be to see a polio free Nigeria especially by next year?

Mr. Okafor: It is a wonderful achievement because in the past like when I was young and it was discovered I had polio, there was nothing like polio Mr Okafor with the interviewersvaccine around then. So I am very happy at the reduction of cases and I am looking forward by next year or two, Nigeria will be polio free. I gladly thank Sir Emeka Offor for his huge financial commitment to seeing that polio is completely eradicated not only in Nigeria but in the world.
SEOF: Thank you sir.
Mr. Okafor: Thank you