In another life, Alia should have been finishing Senior High or be in the university already but she’s not complaining. In fact, she is very happy she’s made it to class five, and she says nothing is going to stop her from achieving her dream of becoming a teacher someday.
Alia was born physically handicapped, at a time when such children were often labelled “spirit children” and “given back to the gods” either by drowning, suffocation or abandonment in remote places. Families that lacked the courage to kill their disabled children often hid them from the eyes of society, not necessarily out of fear for the child’s life, but because of the stigma the whole family suffers. A family that has disabled members is not one that others would like to marry into or even do business with; as they are considered cursed.
In cultures like Alia’s, a child is the parent’s pension. In fact Alia’s father’s dream is that some of his ten children will become successful so they can build him “ a proper house” instead of the mud one he currently lives in. This is his reason for pushing them all to go to school. His dream for Alia, though, is simpler: “I want her to grow into an independent adult so she wouldn’t have to depend on anybody, especially when I am no more”.
Shot on Assignment for UNICEF Ghana.