Meet Katsina-Born Physically Challenged Who Sweeps Pedestrian Bridge In Abuja For A Living
It is common to see people living with disabilities sitting by roadsides or other strategic locations to beg for alms from passersby or spirited members of the public. But a young man, though living with disability, has chosen to harness the ability in his disability for the good of the society.
20-year-old Lawal Abubakar from Shiri town in Batsari Local Government Area of Katsina State took it upon himself to sweep one of the pedestrian bridges on the ever busy Abuja-Keffi Highway for the past four years.
Lawal said he, alongside six of his friends, left Katsina for Abuja about four years ago in search of greener pastures.
According to him, he used to go to the local market in his village to beg for alms prior to leaving Katsina for Abuja in search of greener pastures.
Upon arrival in Abuja, he found makeshift accommodation at Mopol Junction area of Nyanya from where he went under the Mopol Junction Bridge every morning to beg for alms and returned later in the evening to sleep.
He said things were however tough and rough for him as he could hardly realise anything tangible from the day’s begging to feed himself.
And as time went on, he decided to shift his base from Mopol Junction Bridge to the Orange Market Bridge, Mararaba, on the Abuja-Keffi highway.
Lawal said while he was at the pedestrian bridge anticipating alms from generous passersby, his attention was drawn to the unkempt and dirty nature of the bridge which was littered with orange peels, groundnut peels and other trash thrown indiscriminately on the pedestrian walkways by the users.
He said he made efforts and got a broom which he uses in sweeping the pedestrian bridge on a daily basis for over the past four years.
According to him, he was not happy with the dirty and unkempt nature of the bridge, hence his decision to start sweeping it.
“I am doing this (sweeping of the pedestrian bridge) for the sake of God but not necessarily to make money. But in the process of sweeping the bridge, people who pass by feel very happy about it and they encourage me with some tips without me begging.
“I come out to this place as early as 7am everyday to sweep this place. Whatever money people offer me, I use it to eat and reserve some balance for transportation.
“I feel very happy doing this work because I am doing it for society and for God”, he said.
He also said he felt fulfilled making meaningful contributions to the society rather than just sitting idle to beg for alms as other people in his condition do.
Lawal said he would like the government, non-governmental organisations and well-to -do individuals to assist him with capital to start his own business.
“I want to appeal to the Katsina State government and our representatives at the National Assembly to empower me. I would like to go back to my village and start a small business if they can help me.
“I want to start a foodstuff business in my village if I can get someone to help me with the required capital and small space where I can do that. I don’t like begging. I want to do something on my own to be self-reliant”, he said.
He said there was a need for the government to support people living with disabilities to enable them to actualise their aspirations just like the able-bodied people.
Aliyu Ibrahim, a POS operator in the area, commended Lawal for his good work, saying there was the need for the government to support people like him.
“We are very happy with what this young physically challenged boy is doing here. It shows that he is productive. It’s a sign that he can do something meaningful with his life if given the necessary support.
“He cleans the environment and makes the place very safe for all of us. He is a volunteer environmental sanitation officer.
“Because of the way he is committed and dedicated to his duty, people who pass by usually give him gifts even when he doesn’t beg them. He has endeared himself to the people.
He appealed to the government to empower people living with disabilities so they will keep off begging.
On her part, a passerby, Hajiya Salamatu Suleiman, said the boy has endeared himself to many people because of his productivity and dedication to duty despite his disability.
“I have been observing him sweeping this place for over a year. There’s no day you will pass here that you will not find him sweeping. I feel very happy about what the boy is doing.
“Even me on my own, I have sometimes wished that I had money to build a shop for him and keep him there to be selling something.
“These are the kinds of people I would like to help. In fact, I wouldn’t mind taking the responsibility of his feeding. That’s my desire. Each time I see him, I say God, help me for the sake of this boy and make me a source of help to him”, she said.
Cullen from Daily Trust.