Lucky Zachariah may be on wheel chairs, but his brain is very much on the move. He is one of the beneficiaries of the immediate past governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi’s scholarship programme which took him to Nottingham Trent University, UK where he studied and graduated.
TNN visited him in Cheshire home; home for the disabled in Borokiri, where he told his story of how he became crippled in the age of three to EDITH CHUKU in this interview.
Let’s Meet You.
My name is Lucky Zachariah, from Bayelsa State, I’m the first son, first child of late Mr. Zachariah, out of six children, and also, I’m a graduate of Nottingham Trent University, UK.
Tell us your story, how did it get to a wheel chair?
When I was three years old, I fell sick, they rushed me to a hospital, gave me injection, then when I woke up from sleep I couldn’t walk again.
Just like that?
Yes, just like that, after that injection, I slept, woke up and that was it, we realized that I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t use my legs again.
(cuts in) Yes, since then till today, I can’t walk, so as you can see, I’m still on wheel chair since I was three years till now, I can’t walk.
How did it feel at three when you realized that you couldn’t walk and do things you loved doing again?
It felt bad, painful, frustrating, I can’t explain it in words. Sincerely, I can’t. I was down, there were times I thought of committing suicide, I felt very worse, I couldn’t then understand what was happening to me, it was horrible for me as a child.
There were times I felt I wasn’t useful to the society, seeing others walk, run around, do certain things and because of my state I couldn’t made me feel I wasn’t useful.
How did you escape the depression at that tender age?
Hmm, I told myself that I had to live until it was time to die. I just said let me just continue living until when God comes.
What about in school, how did you cope?
From my nursery to primary school, down to my junior secondary school, I was bullied, seriously. Sometimes some people copy the way I crawled on the ground. It was horrible, honestly back then, some will call me names, all sort of names, I went through that experience, but I continued, though sometimes I didn’t go to school, I stayed at home but it’s fine, I must say I pulled through by God’s grace.
And in the UK?
It was far much better, life was much better. I didn’t feel those horrible things I felt here in Nigeria. In the UK, IT was something different, maybe because it’s an advanced country, most of them were so close. I had friends, I didn’t feel discriminated, abnormal. They are more caring than Nigerians. In fact, even in the university, they provided and created classes where those on wheel chair can wheel themselves freely without needing anyone’s assistance, and even in the class, I have a place in the classroom they made for a wheel chair user, for physically challenged persons to sit and the board is very low, they have library for physically challenged people too, so, it was very good, it’s one of the best experience I had.
If you had your way will you go back?
Sure, I will, (laughs), I won’t even waste time.
Now, how did you acquire your shoe making skill?
I was taught by a friend. It was in 1990 when I was still in, I think primary school. I visited him, he just asked me to sit with him and he started teaching me, he will do the palm, cut it, help me cut this, just follow the line, file, when I make mistakes, he will either knock or slap me, call me names. But I stayed, even the day I didn’t show up, he came looking for me. I will never forget what a friend I found in him, he taught me to do palms and shoes, that was before I travelled out.
How has the business been?
Before I travelled to the UK, I already had students I was training in the shoe making business. I won’t lie to you, that’s what I have been surviving on by God’s grace. It has been sustaining me, in feeding, clothing, buying my creams, and assist few persons I can assist that needs my help.
What’s your major challenge right now?
A base for my business, not my legs but a place where I can stay and people will come, if I have a place my life will be better because when people look they must certainly love what I do, God blessed me with this skill so I can survive but not having a place is a major challenge, sometimes I take my work to my friends place at Abbo road, I can’t afford a place for now, to set up my dream shop for my shoe making business will cost my like 800,000, and that money is not a peanut, I don’t have it from anywhere, to set a shoe making business of my dream it will take me, all what I need will take me 800,000, for both rent and material and where I’m targeting is town, if anybody is passing there, they will see my product and want to come to the place and the rent is very costly, Aggrey road, that’s my challenge, if I get help to establish this, I can help people in need, help those in similar or worse condition than myself, here, we have little ones, children, I need to help them too, my legs aren’t a challenge, I do so many things myself, bathing, using the toilet.
What of cooking?
Laughs, no I don’t know how to cook, we have people here that cook, we are family, but I do my washing myself, my major challenge now is to get a place, I am a computer guru, I repair computer too, if I can get financial help to establish my business, that will be perfect, we have people that come here to donate food to us and the owners of this place are doing their best for us, we just need to support, not we, mostly I, I need to support them, they have done so much for us, so much and we are grateful, what I need now is financial assistance, if I get that, I will start my business, I am not married, I am still searching for the right person. Life here in Cheshire home is good, they teach us how to be independent, they want us to know that there are two kinds of world, the physically challenged and the ables, they want use to know that we can be useful to the society and more important to the ables, and also that the ables are useful to us too.
To Help Lucky Zechariah Achieve His Dream, You Can Make Payment To Lucky Zechariah, First Bank, Account Number: 2013275318 Or call 08161556608.