I found myself in an environment where no one thought of asking me what happened to my hand because it seemed inappropriate. Instead, they drew their own conclusion on the cause of my predicament. They all had theories on why i had only one fully functioning hand. My name is Richmond Hagan and I am not disabled!
I have two hands but one with a palm and fingers. This predicament was not caused by an accident, I was born with it. Right from birth I was not accepted, I had to rely on the encouragement of my mother and grand-mother to survive this harsh and cruel world where the incapable are looked down upon. I remember my mother trying all attempts to make me feel normal.
Born and raised in Akosombo, my mother encouraged me to go along with my friends to fetch water, to play football and even be a goalkeeper which I liked to be. I had friends I frolicked with during my playful childhood years encourage and entertain my enthusiasm to be accepted as normal. As a result of this, I did not reject myself. Life was just fine until reality set in.
“Life is full of challenges and challenge comes with pain. You have to decide to become bitter from this pain or overcome this challenge to be happy”
My trying moments began when I entered senior high school; this was when I got to understand the true meaning of discrimination. I was challenged to wash my clothes and do everything all by myself. I embraced the hard knock life of senior high school with this quote from my late grandmother who says “everybody is disabled one way or the other”. I was abused by seniors in high school; one humiliating instance was when I was punished to pick an egg with the hand that had no palm and fingers. I was also verbally abused by my teachers when I decided to contest for school prefect. Without shame for such utterances, my teacher spat the words “We want an able boy to stand for this post and you a one hand boy think you are capable”. I believed i was fit for the job because I saw myself as normal. I know there are some activities that require two hands and I accept that fact. That is why I didn’t choose science as a course in school. I had limitations but that never prevented me from aspiring as head prefect of the students’ body. When I entered the university I still clung to that aim of being the SRC president at the Ghana Institute of Journalism.
“Disability is of the mindset”
I never underrated myself, neither did i join any disability association or program. I lived my life not on what people say, I don’t want to be sympathized and I hated it when I hear people say “let’s help this disabled boy”. These are some of the reasons why I try to be unique, I add value to my physical appearance by looking fashionable. This i believe is my brand but others believe otherwise and think it is a way of hiding my disabled hand.
“You cannot close your eyes, cover your ears and pass through this world successfully”
I have experienced criticism and discrimination from all sorts of people even the disabled ones. I recall an occasion when I had to cover a story on persons with disability in Ghana for TV3, I was criticized by these men who felt that I should rather be begging for alms instead of working. I rose above their criticism and took that opportunity to enlighten and motivate them. This got some of them to change that perception that they were handicapped and stop begging for alms. Some of them have found new jobs which allows them to use their strong one hand to work.
“Disability is not inability”
My mother has been very supportive of me. She was once influenced to get rid of me when I was born but because she believed that my future was bright she kept me and since then has never had any regret as I thrive to make her very proud. I have achieved so much and worked my way to being accepted as capable. I have worked with Right FM, TV3, Asempa and Adom FM and I currently run Kingdom Children Foundation, an NGO that helps needy children to have a bright future like me. I have participated in a lot of voluntary work, represented Eastern Region in table tennis and worn over 17 awards for being an outstanding personality in whatever field and place I find myself.
“Service to one self is better than a slave to another”
I love to talk and motivate people to become a better version of them and I hope you will through my message see yourself as good enough, overlook criticism and love yourself. I tried to cover my hands with an artificial hand but I later realized how irrelevant it was to hide who I am. I see the former CPP presidential running mate Ivor Greenstreet as a motivation for all those who think disabled people cannot aspire for better things in life. We can be normal and even better so treat us equally.
Listen to interview here
To support Richmond Hagan and his foundation (kingdom children foundation) kindly contact him on +233548311891