- A visually impaired law graduate of the Ahmadu Bello University, Hafsat Suleiman, has narrated how she made it through school
- Blind from an infant age of three years, Hasfat revealed that she chose to study law because she was told back in secondary school that sciences are not for persons like her
- She further disclosed that through university days, she met with people who were both helpful on one hand and unsupportive on the other
A blind graduate of the Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Kaduna state, Hafsat Suleiman, was recently called to bar after completing Law school.
Hafsat, who is the third child in a family of 10 children, received massive commendation from social media users. In an interview with Daily Trust on Saturday, December 8, she narrated her moving and awe-inspiring story, Daily Trust reports.
Asked when she lost her sight, Hasfat said that the tragedy happened early in life, precisely three years of age. She said: "I was just three-years-old then, so there are many things that I cannot remember and even when I was told, I could not hold on to them."
With reference to the ordeal she experienced during her university days, she said that while many lecturers back then in school were unsupportive even to the point of rejecting her, some others stood by her through tough times.
He words: "The first was that I was not allowed to attend any school of my choice like any other person, I had to attend Kaduna State Special Education school because that was the only school people like me can go to.
"After my primary school, I attended WTC in Katsina before I moved to Girls High school, Kindire in Jos, where I did my JSS 1 and 2. I later moved to Government Secondary School, Kwali in Abuja where I completed my secondary education. Then, after my secondary education, I got admission to study Law at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.
"In ABU, the challenges came right from the entry point, because my dean insisted on not admitting me into the faculty because he felt the school did not have the facilities for me to study. It was with the help of God and the intervention of so many people that he was agreed to admit me.
"There were other challenges like buying handouts, since they were not in Braille, so I had to either get someone to read with me because I was not brailing them and I was not recording, or make the handouts into soft copies and play on my laptop which has a software that converts text into speech.
"Also, some of the lecturers were not helpful. But some were always there for me. Some of the lecturers were authors of the books we used during the course, so I would ask them for the soft copies; some of them gave me, but other would tell me they do not have it or would not even listen to me. But by the grace of God, here I am."
The amazing law graduate said that she was able to cope with moving around school with the help of friends and sympathisers who helped even when it was uncomfortable.
Hasfat said: "I had people who were always there for me, and even when I took courses they were not taking then, they would make sure I attend my lectures.
"Sometimes one of them would take me there, accompany me to the lecture hall and even if my close friends were not there, I would always find someone to help. They even go out of their way to take me back to my hostel."
She revealed that the idea of studying law was a late choice she took when she was told that sciences are not for persons with her condition, adding that her father right from the beginning wanted her to become a physiotherapist.
Hasfat narrated: "Growing up, I never thought of becoming a lawyer because my father wanted me to be a Physiotherapist and up to my secondary school, I was still holding on to that.
"But then, when I later understood that the educational system is not favourable, I decided to change course and even then, I never thought of studying Law.
"I never wanted to study any course that has been labelled for disabled people even though there are people that have decided to offer such courses. I never wanted people to rule my life and make decisions for me just because I am physically challenged.
"When I was in secondary school, a counsellor opened up to me and told me I could not study sciences, and I would have to choose between arts and social sciences.
"Back then, when I chose art, I kept wondering what I was going to do with it. I do not know how come, but it came one day and I decided to study Law because I felt it was interesting and I would at least have the opportunity of giving the voiceless a voice."
As encouragement to persons with any form of deformity or impairment, she said they should never give up but should instead always hold their head up high.
Speaking on her next line of action, Hasfat said: "I’m presently serving with a law firm and I hope to practice after my NYSC, but our society is not supportive of people like me. I know that if I am in a room with another lawyer, the client will definitely pick the other lawyer because of my disability.
"And even if he picks me and in the end, we lose the case, the client will say it’s because I am physically-challenged. Society needs to stop the discrimination of people like me.
"I was at the Special Education School, I noticed that the children were forced to learn with people older than them, thereby taking away their childhood.
"I pray that by the grace of God, I will be able to establish a foundation for special children, and even if I am able to cater to only two children, I would be happy and grateful."
Meanwhile, Legit.ng reported that during the 1940s to 1960s, many people in Nigeria believed it was strange for someone who is visually impaired to be educated like others who could see.
They had thought being blind made you unable to compete with others, until Bitrus Gani-Ikilama showed them he could. Bitrus Gani-Ikilama was born in Donga in Takum local government area of Taraba state, in 1944.
Despite being the bind son of a farmer, Gani-Ikilama completed the three tiers of his education against all odds.
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