We are rejected in our struggle to survive
By Ngor Khot Garang
As a child, James Nyeka who is now 57 and managing a small scale business learnt to cope with people looking down on him and infact people refusing to talk with him. But it was not until he turned 18 that he understood the real meaning of discrimination.
Losing his limbs to polio at the age of 4, Nyeka has experienced what he in his own words call the hardest part of life.
He had tried to go to school and indeed started primary 1 but was constantly abused by his friends with legs, so he had to quit school and remain at home instead.
“My heart was always in the classroom and there were times when I see my agemates going to school and I asked myself why did the God I serve wholeheartedly decided to abandon me”, he questioned.
Despite his struggle to make ends meet. The condition of South Sudan continues to weigh him down.
“I have four mouths to feed and school fees to pay for my children. My first born son is now in his third year in secondary school and I am the one paying him with the little money I make from selling sweets and pens by the roadside.”
He says the difficulties he faces on daily basis are enough to make him give up but that would mean accepting defeat which is what he would not allow as long as he is still breathing.
“I have always wanted to a have wheelchair of my own but one cost money which I have not even touched with my bare hands since I was born. The little stuff I sell needs to be transported every day from Thonpiny where I live to Ministry road where they are sold. This makes it hard to continue with my business”.
He says his business showcases no signs of progress
“Getting customers is not easy and has not been possible, since I sell sweets and pens the only customers I expect are school children but children run away from me because of the way I look. Those who buy from me do it out of pity for my condition “.
James appealed to the government to implement peace and to also support people with disabilities who are willing to work for their families.
“Many International Organizations and foreign investors want to come to South Sudan but they are impeded by insecurity in the country. When there is peace in the country, some of these organizations would be in the position to help persons with disabilities,’ he said with his face brimming with hope.
As touching as Nyeka’s experience is, it is not an unusual phenomenon and neither is he the only South Sudanese living with disabilities that has difficulty putting food on the table for his loved ones. There are several persons with disabilities suffering in silence and nobody is helping them out.
Rebecca Gune, who sells simsim and g-nut at custom market and a mother of four whose bones were shattered about a decade ago in a motor accident on Juba-Nimule road has another painful story to tell. She says she was having a lot of friends but when that incident happened all those friends were gone.
“I wasn’t born with disability and cannot question God when fate left me in this desperate state” she said, “but the way people treat me especially my neighbors has left me wondering if I am really a human being”.
Rebecca said people don’t even buy from her because her look chase people away and her children are not in school since her husband was killed during the 2013 war.
“I feel hopeless and my heart is telling me that I have nothing to live for since my children are now out of school and they have nothing to eat. I can’t watch them starving to death,” she added with tears rolling down her cheeks.
The number of the persons with disabilities is increasing every day and they need to be supported with their children too. Some of them are not mentally disabled and can contribute to the development of this country