The story of Halima Jibril Usman and her video in the kitchen was very impressive. She was in her uniform and a chef’s cap. Born blind, the young woman in her early 20s is a student of Kaduna State University. She said she wanted to become a journalist and to become a famous chef as well.
She said her passion for cooking started since she was a child as her mother encouraged her to do household chores.
She uses her phone to learn recipes and advertises on social media platforms. Due to her condition people are curious and want to buy the food directly from her to make sure she is the one cooking the food. She however has somebody to help her.
The vogue now among young women is to be a cook, create a name mostly with ‘kitchen’ attached to it and advertise online. Some are invited to television stations for cooking programmes. Halima also goes with the trend and ‘BLIND KITCHEN CREATIONS’ is written on her cap and ‘THE BLIND CHEF’ written on her uniform.
Her story will give parents with children with disabilities hope and will encourage the children to believe that they can achieve what they want to do. That it is possible and therefore be self-reliant, employ others and help others as well.
The automatic thought when people see a blind child is that he would end up being a beggar and a burden to his parents and the society.
This mindset should be done away with. Some are not happy when offered alms since they are not beggars, though even those that offer don’t mean to disparage them. But this is because of the cultural mindset that a person with disability is destitute in search of ‘coins’ thrown at him, so to speak, in order to survive.
The case of Halima is however among the few lucky ones, with education, supportive parents and equipped with a big modern kitchen to ply her trade.
There are many in special schools that may not have such opportunity or support at home, though the fact that they have the opportunity to attend the school is enough. They learn mobility; how to move around among other things. And they have their ambitions as well.
The way universal education is said to be compulsory for every child in Nigeria, it should be as well for the physically challenged children. They should not be neglected and forgotten as if they don’t count because they are the children of ordinary people. The children of the wealthy with such conditions are taken to school, even sent abroad or teachers are engaged for them at home.
Those that beg in the street are many, even in Abuja you see young blind boys and girls with their parents begging. They should not be consigned to a life of begging without any future.
Taking them to school may however be a challenge unless the community and religious leaders are co-opted into the scheme. It is not easy for those that are used to begging and don’t have any contact with formal education to accept to go to the school, especially boarding schools.
One man told me that he once saw a blind child begging in the outskirts of Abuja. He wanted to talk to him and take him to the school for the blind. The man spoke only a few Hausa words and instead of him explaining his intention to a Hausa person to talk to the boy and see his parents, he approached the boy directly and the boy took to his heels, probably afraid that the man meant to harm him.
Another interesting thing about Halima’s story is how she is using her phone to do something positive as young people are advised to do instead of using them in ways that would not benefit them.
All hope is not lost, Halima has proved that apart from learning she could excel and compete with anybody in other fields, her blindness notwithstanding.