Mr. Okanmelu: The Man with the Vision!
Dear CIB Reader, I know this post is long overdue but kindly bear with me. It’s been overwhelming for yours truly. Nonetheless, I am sincerely grateful we made it into 2019 in good health and great prosperity. Since this is my first post this beautiful year, it wouldn’t be wrong to say Happy New Year. From my heart, I wish you and yours the most productive year ever.
This particular blog post is unique because a special young man, Ernest Okanmelu (E.O), is our guest. I wholeheartedly appreciate the efforts of Mr. Ebuka Uzor who told me about the guest in 2017. Distance and time fought against our plans but we succeeded this January. I have the singular honour to take you on a ride into the world of this Government Teacher whose visual impairment hasn’t stopped his vision. Please, assume your best position while you enjoy this piece.
Mr. Okanmelu was like every other child born with an active sense of sight. He attended Oze Primary School, Model Comprehensive Secondary School both in Nkwelle Ezunaka, Anambra State. It may interest you to know that he is a graduate of Education/Political Science from Nwafor Orizu College of Education, Nsugbe (NOCEN), served his fatherland via the NYSC (National Youth Service Corps Scheme) platform at Katsina State and currently pursuing his Masters Degree program in Education/Guidance&Counselling at the former Anambra State University. E.O is a Government Teacher at the prestigious Dennis Memorial Grammar School (DMGS).
CIB: At what point did you lose your sight and how was it for you?
E.O: This happened when I was in SS 1. It started with me feeling my eyes were covered with smoke on a friday. I was sent home since the itching became worse. The following week, I stopped seeing. When I visited Guiness Hospital in Onitsha, I was told that my case could only be treated in the U.S.. Since, there was no fund for that, I retired home.
That period was unbearable and I chose to die.
CIB: How did you pull through to the point of getting a degree?
E.O: A neighbor whose child was also blind introduced my family to Basden Memorial Special Educational Center, Isulu Orumba South. After some time there, I moved to Nigeria Farm/Craft Center for the blind (2003/2004). After mastering the desired level of independence, I returned to the East and started SS1 in the school where I now teach. I wrote my WAEC at DMGS.
CIB: Describe the reception at DMGS
E.O: I was a boarder and the wonderful part was that there were about 9 blind students in the school including me. I was the only blind student in SS1. It was not unusual to see a blind student. Our friends tried their best to help in any way at all. We also helped the sighted students in our little capacities too.
CIB: How do you cope as a teacher?
E.O: Being an old student of NOCEN, makes teaching come naturally for me. My first day in DMGS as a teacher was a great moment as the students were excited.
CIB: I have observed that you are technology savvy, kindly share your story.
E.O: I was inspired when I noticed someone of my kind was operating a Nokia N70 without help. I decided to find out more from him. He introduced me to a software that allows easy communication and operations easier. I got it for #30,000. Ever since I mastered installation and operations, it has been another modest source of income. I have so many clients.
CIB: How have you impacted your community so far?
E.O: I served as Secretary first and subsequently, President of Blind Students in Nigeria Association of the Blind, Youth Wing, Anambra State (2011-2014). I am currently the President of Blind Workers and Students, Anambra State. I ensure the objectives of the group are maintained which include speaking for our rights and alleviate poverty among the blind.
CIB: What are your dreams and blessings?
E.O: To have a PhD. My blessings are numerous but I am happy that God embraced me from that fateful day till now. I am alive.
E.O: Being blind is not a death sentence. I believe that if my brain is active and positively productive, I am not disabled or physically challenged. My advice would be to put in more effort in whatever good thing you are doing. Do bot lose hope.
Wow! At this point, I am certain you are amazed by his approach to life. You can see hence, there would be no excuse for you not to achieve more.
I hope this meets you well. Remember, this is the year we increase our community. Tell a friend to tell a friend about CIB. We move on!
Thanks for reading to this point.
Don’t forget to shine on.