Coping with two blind children, taxing- Parent

THE PUNCH Newspaper- Etim Ekpimah

Having a physically-challenged child in a family is taxing. But having two blind children in a family is a burden no family will wish to carry. However, this is the cross a painter, Mr. Lateef Aderemi, has been carrying as the head of his family for the past 15 years.

His children, Bidemi, 15, a graduate of Pacelli School for the Blind, Surulere, Lagos, is blind. His eight-year-old son, Yinka, is also blind and he is in primary four at Pacelli. According to Lateef, they were both blind from birth

On how he has been coping with them, Lateef told PUNCH METRO that it had not been easy but felt as a man he should not shift his burden to others.

He said he did not notice on time that Bidemi was blind until when she started crawling. Lateef said then he and his wife observed that she was always hitting her head on the wall whenever she was crawling and could not pick any object placed in her front because she was not seeing.

Lateef said, “When she started crawling, she would go in different directions, hitting her head on the wall, falling everywhere, and for that period we did not know she was blind.

”Her eyesight blinks well, her retina was intact; there was nothing to suggest that she was blind. When she began to walk, nothing changed and she was having the same problem, it was then we knew we were in trouble.

“We took her to Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos, for surgery. The doctors conducted many tests on her eyes. When we thought she was going to be operate upon, the doctors told us that they saw nothing wrong with her eyes and that there was no need to operated her.”

Bidemi’s mother, Joke, said there was no trace of blindness neither in her husband‘s family nor in hers, but wondered why two of her three children were blind.

She admitted that to cope with two blind children was difficult, adding that the family became broke because of huge amounts of money spent on Bidemi and Yinka.

But what Bidemi lost in sight, she gained in academic brilliance. Determined to give her daughter a good education, Lateef took her to a group, Women and Children with Disability Initiative, which in turn registered her at the Pacelli School.

Bidemi, who has just graduated from the school in July has been admitted into Queen’s College, Lagos, and hopes to study Accountancy at the university after her secondary school education.

“I like accounting profession because of the scope its gives someone to solve Mathematics. I like Mathematics, I preferred it to other subjects,” Bidemi said.

Asked if she could cope with the mathematical symbols and formulas, she said her training at Pacelli School would make things easy for her.

”People are always surprised when they see me solving mathematical equations. I do solve equations even for those with sight and they keep wondering how I find it easy to do. But I always tell them that with the kind of training I received at Pacelli, solving mathematical equations should not be a problem for me,” Bidemi added.

But the Executive Director of the group that took Bidemi to Pacelli, Mrs. Funmi Yinka-Gbadamosi, told PUNCH METRO that the girl needed to cross another hurdle before studying at Queen‘s College.

She said, ”I‘ve a great challenge. Bidemi Adeyemi, 15; is one of my children (member of Women and Children with Disability Initiative - she is blind). She has just finished from Pacelli School for the Blind and Partially Sighted Children, Surulere, Lagos.

”She wrote a Common Entrance Examination into Queen‘s College, Yaba, Lagos, and has been given an admission. We urgently need about N250,000 for Bidemi to realise her dream in getting into the college.”

As a ‘special student,‘ Yinka-Gbadamosi said Bidemi would need ”a recorder, all her textbooks would have to be transcribed at a special office for the blind people called Nigerwives for Blind People. She has to go for four medical tests at a hospital approved by the school.”

Yinka-Gbadamosi, who married a blind man, said she had 42 people with varying disabilities that her organisation catered for, adding that most of them had great potential that could transform the society if well harnessed.

She said, ”If these children were from rich home, they would have been flown abroad for extensive care and education.

”Whether the children are physically fit or handicapped, they are our children. We need to care for them. Being physically-challenged does not mean that one cannot be useful in other areas, after all, everybody is handicapped in one way or the other.”


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