By: Danielle Frempong
It is often said that when faced with adversity the best way to overcome is to move yourself in the right direction. So then what do you do when your greatest adversity is your inability to actually move?
Meet Fidel Boamah, a Ghanaian boy who lost his leg at the tender age of seven. For 11 years, he has learned to live his life as normally as possibly, however, living as an amputee can be daunting. Growing up, he had to struggle with being excluded from some activities. During our interview with him, he tells us that his JHS classmates wouldn't play football with him sometimes because they felt 'I was too fragile and unfit.' Though this brought him much dissatisfaction, nothing seemed worse than hearing a little child scream and crying out 'HIS LEG IS BROKEN' whenever he walked through the streets of Ghana. He found a challenge in accepting that he was different from everyone and could not do the same things they did with as much ease as they did. He says, ‘’it is very easy to give up and fall into a state of self-pity after this realization.
Dislabelled: What is the most difficult aspect about learning to do things differently from most people?
Fidel: I guess it would be acknowledging that you are different and as such cannot do what most people do as freely as they can. Most people give up after this acknowledgement but what should be done is to aspire to be able to do what everyone else can do in your own way. Adapting to the situation is key bearing in mind that your disability is another means by which you can display your potential in a creative manner.
Dislabelled: What would you say has been your greatest achievement in terms of overcoming what may have seemed like a limitation?
Fidel: Most people make mention of physical accomplishments like running or swimming or dancing. That is really important and deserves a great applause but for me my greatest achievement has been overcoming myself and I don’t mean this in the physical sense. The real battle lies in the mind, without that being able to swim is as abstract as vanishing. The voices in my head that remind me of my limitations and pull me back are the easiest to listen to which is what makes them so dangerous. Pushing past them and yearning for more is my greatest accomplishment and it happens every day I take a step with my crutches.
Dislabelled: How does society mostly accept you and does that affect your growth as an individual?
Fidel: Growing up an amputee I have come to appreciate a lot of different perspectives. Most people who see me have pity on me and say ‘sorry’ or ‘don’t worry’. Sometimes children point at me and laugh or cry or scream out “HIS LEG IS BROKEN”. While I was in Junior High School, most of my mates wouldn’t play football with me because they thought I was fragile and not fit enough. But much earlier I realised that society accepts what you show them. If you show yourself strong when they underestimate you, they respect you more. Like I said it’s the voices in your head that you should be most wary of because it’s easy to believe what they say be it verbally or physically. Because of this, I decided to take risks, like running, dancing, swimming, playing footballs and most importantly ignoring the voices etc. It’s not the easiest thing to do but because I worked hard at it, it feels very natural to play with people and ignore the voices even in my disability.
Dislabelled: Any advice to individuals on how to treat people who may be different from them?
Fidel: I can understand it when people react in shock or are overly cautious when it comes to challenged people because they care about them. It is hard to say but sometimes looking past the challenge and accepting the person for who he or she truly is could go a long way.
Dislabelled: Message for anyone who has to learn to do things differently from most people?
Fidel: I think the worst thing anyone in such a situation could do is to settle for less or be comfortable in their misfortune. Push past the discouragement and the negative treatment and aspire for more. That way you adapt and become content and less dependent on people.
Dislabelled: Who or what would you say have been your biggest inspirations towards pressing to overcome what may have seemed to be a limitation?
Fidel: God has been my strength in all of this. Growing in His word teaches me to trust and obey because there is no other way to be happy. Having faith has taught me that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me and this inexorable truth has allowed me to overcome with God as my help.
And of course, any last words I’d like to say thank you for the interview and I hope this inspires many others like me to believe in God and desire for more. Thank you.