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Braving The Odds: The Story Of The Disabled Oyster Processor

Mary Kpornogbe
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Thirty-five-year-old Mary Kpornogbe is disabled but will rather define her circumstances by creating her own economic base in her remote community of Teikpitikorpe in the Ada East District in the Greater Accra Region.

She is one of the few persons living with disability who will brave the odds and not court pity and charity of others to make ends meet.

The middle-sized woman who is confined to a wheelchair but knowing the challenges of people living with a disability has resolved to help others starting with the hiring of a hearing and speech impaired woman to assist her process seafood.

Madam Mary Awudun Kpormogbe would avoid eye contact because she is obviously shy but would tell the Ghana News Agency that she was not born disabled.

In Dangme, said, “My mother told me I walked at seven months but I became sick and was sent to the hospital where I was given an injection that paralyzed me”.

Madam Kpornogbe ventured into the oyster processing business five years ago to get enough funds to take care of herself and a daughter as a single parent.

Showing the GNA how she processed the oysters, she indicated that she bought the fresh oysters from the riverbank in the community and then hired people to cart it to her residence.

“I boil them, after which I removed the food from the opened shells, take the sand from it and string it on a stick and fry’.

But challenges of mobility spring up along the value chain. After frying, she has to look for a taxi to carry her to the market to sell or alternatively, carry the large basket of the fried oysters on her head and travel in her wheelchair on a dusty winding road for several hundreds of metres to the main Big Ada road to board a high floored minibus to Kasseh market.

The road becomes very slippery and dangerous when it rains making it difficult for her to use her wheelchair as she could easily tumble.

Emotions took a better part of her at this stage and with sadness, she said: “because I don’t have a leg, I can only manage to send it to the market, I would have added hawking to it if I could walk”.

According to her, during the close season for oysters which falls between December and February annually, she engaged in petty trading.

Touching on the Disability Fund Distribution, she indicated that she benefitted in 2016 when the Ada East District Assembly purchased a deep freezer for her adding that her subsequent request was turned down without any stated reasons.

She appealed to the government to consider establishing a factory in the district to process and export the oysters revealing that the shells were used for the manufacture of paints and fish feed.

She also urged other disabled persons to work to make a living instead of begging for alms as it was more fulfilling to make your own money in a dignified manner.

Source: GNA

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