24-year-old Bariledum Destiny Tambari is an indigene of Yeghe in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State but was born and raised in Nkarahia, Isiokpo in Ikwerre Local Government Area. While he was 20 years old, in 2015, he was involved in an accident that led to a spinal cord injury. He lost hope after his dad died.
Since then, Tambari has not used his legs and has been confined to his bed in a hut for four years now. EDITH CHUKU visited his residence at Nkarahia and had a session with him.
You have been incapacitated for four years now. What happened?
I was involved in a ghastly motor accident that affected my spinal cord, the T11/T12 spine in 2015, that was after my WAEC examination; then I was 20years old, it affected my spinal cord. It happened on the 24th of February, 2015. Since then, I have been lying down on this bed, in this mud house. It impeded me from walking with my both legs, I’ve been bedridden for over four years now; I can’t walk on my both legs. I’m still urinating with a catheter. You won’t understand. Life has been unbearable out here, for four years now, I can’t feel my legs, I can’t walk with them.
How did the accident happen?
I was in a bike, just after my WAEC, while riding the bike; I was knocked down by a vehicle. I was unconscious, rushed to the hospital, from one hospital to another and I’m still here.
Was the driver apprehended?
No. I was told he escaped, he ran away, I didn’t really know much because as at that point it was terrible, they said before anyone could understand what was happening, he fled, he disappeared till today.
What efforts were made after the accident?
My parents took me to Madonna University Teaching Hospital, Elele. This is my card, (hands his card over) when the accident happened but they couldn’t afford the bill so they took me to University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital; here is my card, when I was there. I stayed there for like 2-3weeks, nothing much was done because we couldn’t raise money for the necessary treatment. They brought me home, then took me to Akwa Ibom where I was treated in the native way. We stayed in Akwa Ibom for six months, yet no change, no improvement. I was just there, nothing. So I had to be brought back home, it was when we came back that my dad died.
What happened to him?
I will prefer not to be taken through that memory lane, please. My father’s death brought great misery to me and my entire family. My dad was the only person that has been helping me out with my needs, I was forcefully discharged from the hospital because there was no money to continue the treatment process. If my father was (sic) alive, if I reside here, it’s very close to Isiokpo police station, once you enter Isiokpo, ask of Barry, they will bring you to this mud house, here, why, because of my condition. Our inability to raise fund for my treatment has been the major challenge. At UPTH, I was unconscious. In fact, I didn’t know I was still on earth, I had severe breathing issues, my sister explained to the doctor in charge of my case when it was getting out of hand, the doctor simply requested for money for further medication, the fund, money is what has left me incapacitated till now. For the past four years, no check up, no good medicine, nothing, exercise, massage, because we couldn’t afford it.
How have you been coping?
I’ve been miserable, devastated, frustrated, I have been down-casted, I am dying inside, how can a young boy like me that should go in search of his future be in this state for four whole years now and I don’t know when this will be over? I heard at the hospital, they mentioned around N10 million for my surgery abroad. It’s been over three years now, I don’t know, if only I can walk, I can’t even feel my legs, no matter what you do to them. Pinch me, beat it, whatever, I can’t feel or move it, for the past four years of my life, I need help, I need help.
What sort of help do you need?
I need help, help that will reinstate me back on my feet. See my mum, she has suffered a lot for me. She sells local gin, (kaikai). That is how we survive, plus the gifts and money some persons gave me to support myself. All I want is to get back on my feet. I need to go for a surgery, I can’t feel any sensation. I need help, I’m pleading with the general public to please come to my aid, I can’t do it alone, I want to be a footballer, own a firm, I want to pull down this mud house and build my enduring mum something much better, change her wrappers, stop her from doing this kind of business but when I can’t even feel my legs, how do I use them?
Your parents are Ogoni yet you were born here, how come?
This is where we live, we were born here, my dad and mum are from Ogoni but they gave birth to us here. So I grew up here, I had my primary and secondary school here.
I have been writing to people, both on social media, individuals, they keep promising but nothing has been done. I have been begging and I will continue to beg. If my legs were as functional as my hands, I wouldn’t be begging for help, I would have, by God’s grace, worked it out, but I can’t even stand even while people are holding me, I am being carried, it’s been months now, close to year, I have not left this room, please, I need help.