‘I want to be a ray of hope for people living with disability’


Someone once said the only disability is a matter of perception; if you can do just one thing right, someone needs you. This is what beautiful Jennifer Ibrahim represents; a woman, who has not allowed her physical outlook define or limit her greatness. Jennifer Ibrahim stopped schooling in JSS3 due to her health issue. She was diagnosed with sickle cell anaemia, which led to her inability to walk again. Today, she is into poultry business, which caters to the intricate needs of persons which special needs. Jennifer is very humane, passionate about humanity, widows, orphans and physically challenged. Her interest in this special category of people stems from their inability to meet their basic needs. And because she knows how it feels to be in need and to be caged by the body, she’s a ray of hope for them Her vision is to open a Foundation (Jenny Home of Hope Foundation) to give hope to other physically challenged persons. Jennifer shares her inspiring Journey in this interview.

Childhood Preparation
No, my childhood did not in anyway prepare me for who I am and what I do now because, as a child, I never thought of being physically challenged or even being an inspiration to people. My childhood was full of life and fun; I was living very healthy and not knowing what a sickle cell person is. I had the dream of becoming an actress right from childhood; the business minded person I am now started right from childhood. I could buy sweet and biscuits just to sell to my classmates, like I was very free from sickness, far away from hospitals. I could walk distant miles just to get food items because I love to cook and I was very engaged and busy not until age of 13.

Inspiration Behind My Business
Like it is I’m my first response, I like to do business and so, I had to go into it. I had gone into other businesses before this poultry such as selling of chin-chin selling, Aya, and selling of slippers shoes. But in all of it, there had not been much gain and I wanted better income so as to be independent financially and even help people around me. I sold my laptop at the rate of N15,000 and thought it wise to invest wisely other than spending it causally. Then, the idea of the poultry business came in and for a start, I had to buy 50 birds.

The Journey So Far
It’s been tough, but I expected all of it though. It’s stressful because you could imagine me in my condition trying to ensure that I meet customers demand, especially the dressing of the chicken and delivery.

I started with 50birds but had a lost of 11 birds, which was heartbreaking. The second set of chickens was 80 and all survived; of course, that was very encouraging and the present is 100 birds, but still growing up. So, you see it’s been challenging all the way, but for the fact that been a business minded person is part of who I am, I have to keep pushing, considering the fact that the income is better than other business I had been into.

My Passion For Causes Centred Around Physically Challenged Persons
Well, for now, I have not done something big in that area but as the saying goes, charity begins at home. I am trying my possible best to make maximum impact in my community, like giving out food items to my few friends here that are physically challenged and sharing Bible passages as well. I am also not too mobile, but I have been able to hold a programme early this year tagged Divine Meals, which was designed for me to eat divinely with physically challenged and less privilege. I intend to do more with the grace of God on me.

My Foundation
The inspiration behind the foundation came October 2018 while I was reading a Christian Motivational book, and then my life began to change for better. I had the name ‘Jeni Home Of Hope Foundation’ of which I believed it was not me, but the Holy Spirit. I started picking interest in things that concern physically challenged people and their welfare. As much as I desire to do the needful, I also need finance to help and this why I really need the business to help work this out.

Government And Provisions For Persons With Disability
Considering the fact that I don’t really go out, but for the few persons have heard from and the news I go through, most help comes from Non-Governmental Organisation (NGOs) and less from government. The only governmental help and assistance I’ve had was through the ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, which helps both disabled mothers and children. Aside the ministry, it’s difficult to get government support or assistance for the less privilege and vulnerable people. However, NGOs today are doing greatly in the aspect of assisting physically challenged. We’ve heard of NGOs giving out wheelchairs, taking responsibilities of a person’s medical treatment and even giving out food items to less privilege. Also, I want to use this medium to thank NGOs all over the world; I appreciate your good works.

My Advice To The Physically Challenged Trying To Navigate In Life
Never give up. Even through trials and challenges nare there, giving up should never be an option. Strive hard because its not easy and as the saying goes, there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.

Build anything you have passion for so it would pay you at the end; it will help you avoid being dependent. Finally, always remember, never expect ease from life because life is a test and you don’t expect test to be easy.
Challenges I Experience As An Advocate For Disabled Persons
The primary and main challenge is discouragement from friends and even family. As an advocate, one gets to be asked, ‘Can you make it? Do you have what other warriors that are well known and celebrated have? Do you have the finances? There are always discouraging voices I hear as I advocate for the disabled. Trust me, I always feel down in my spirit and discouraged. But getting to know the story about warriors, who are now advocates, I got to understand that I don’t need much to be an advocate; I just need a made up mind.

Women Who Inspire Me to Be Better
Joni Eareckson Tada. After reading Joni’s story, I woke up from my sleep and had to stand on my feet. I made up my mind to be somebody in life, not minding when I will walk. Joni’s story turned my life from being carnal to being spirit filled. Now, I can say I am up to do the best I am called to do.

Muniba Mazari, as the iron lady of Pakistan, is one person’s life story that keeps me going. After all medical reports that Muniba can’t be the artiste she wanted to be, she picked up courage, which made her the motivational speaker that she is today. Joni’s story woke me up and Muniba’s story has made me a moving train.

Mummy Folusho is physically fit, but her works inspires me; she’s one of my inspirations because I have come to realise what being an advocate means.

Her advice is inspiring, her help and also concern towards the physically challenged is so much inspiring.

Being a Woman of Rubies
In my weakness, I find strength; I hold myself with a high esteem. I am not just a warrior, but a conqueror as well; I am special and unique in my own way.

And lastly, with God on my side, I am a victorious advocate.

Support For Persons With Disability During The Pandemic
Even before the pandemic, government has not been fair with people living with disability. But in view of the pandemic, the government tried so far in reaching the less privilege; I appreciate them for that. Now, the question is, what then happens after the pandemic? Are the palliatives just for the period of the pandemic or will the aid extend even after all this happening? I will love the government to extend their aid even after the pandemic because, a lot out there need their help, especially medical support.

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