My immediate younger sister died of epilepsy. As this neurological disorder can start anytime and to anyone, hers began when she was in her first year in secondary school. Then it became frequent, thus forcing the school to inform us to keep her at home until she gets better. Well, she never goes back, and that was the end of her schooling. In a society where beliefs in witchcraft and the supernatural collide with each other, Tara, who real name I chose to conceal here, was tagged a witch or sometimes evil possessed. Many so-called Pastors, Imams, and Traditional healers fed on our money as they promised to heal her. All were lies. The hyper-expensive epileptic drugs only worked if we could afford it. Her illness destroyed the family. Our father ran off. We lost everything.
The most disturbing was Tara’s solitude that many of my families failed to see and if they do, they pretend not to notice. I guess everyone has their ways of dealing with damaged family relationships. Tara was compelled to stay indoors. She never complained but, I could see she was lonely. We were her only points of contact. Her feeble look meant she must go into her room when we have visitors because her health has deteriorated beyond control. I had confrontations with our mother about this as she was the one controlling where Tara must be or what she must do. The truth is I never got over it. By the time Tara died after fifteen years of battling this illness, I was relieved for her that at last, her suffering is over. But like myself, I soon found out many of my siblings had issues with our mother because of Tara.
I am writing this because many people do not know how to handle their people with disabilities. No one wants to be locked up in exclusionary states. I’d recall my mother used to lock up Tara if she had to go out and no one is in the house with both of them. As I said, I had troubles with this because Tara was no longer a child then. She was a full-grown adult!
People with disabilities experience solitude because of the shortage of inclusion in many areas. For illustration, Tara never stepped out of the house until our mother said so. She used to follow us to the church in the early stage of her illness and then our mother ended it.
It takes the compassion of God for us Christians to look beyond the infirmities of those with disabilities to genuinely understand their sufferings, in particular, loneliness. They did not choose it, and contrary to certain unfounded beliefs, these people desire an active life like us, which is a disabled-Free. Do we have to lock them up? Must we exclude them from our everyday activities? Are we ashamed to show them to our friends and neighbours? What kind of Christians are we?