Meet Kelechi Uhegwu, a beautiful lady who was misdiagnosed with malaria while she had polio which led to her disability. Over the years, Kelechi has proven that one can still be in high spirits regardless of their condition as she boasts to be the happiest girl on earth. In this interview with us, Uhegwu narrates her pain, healing process and learning to rise above disability and the struggle that comes with it.
HOW DO YOU SOMETIMES FEEL LIVING WITH DISABILITY?
I am human first of all, so I have to go through the rigors of being that and secondly the user of a wheelchair for mobility. My challenge as a person is more of accessibility issues, like go to a lot of public places and they do not have accessibility for people like me. It’s really heartbreaking that people have to carry me when I go to public places because I am old (laughs) and no old person wants to be carried about.
HOW DID YOUR DISABILITY COME ABOUT?
I was born as a regular kid who didn’t have any disability but towards the age of one, I was misdiagnosed with malaria while I had polio. I was treated for malaria and other symptoms that seem like that of malaria and you know you do not inject polio patients, so I was prescribed injections and I am totally paralyzed on my lower limbs.
HOW WAS GROWING UP LIKE KNOWING FULLY WELL THAT YOU WEREN’T BORN PARALYZED?
While I was growing up, I realized that I wasn’t walking like the everyday children, they weren’t being carried like me especially when I was 5 because children of that age weren’t carried about like me. I had to learn how to cook, I fell a lot of times and I also experienced being bullied. Most times when people consider you to be a weak person, they will want to prey on your weakness.
IS THERE ANY MAN BEHIND YOUR BEAUTIFUL SMILE?
Let’s keep that personal (laughs) when I’m getting married you guys will definitely hear about it.
HAVE YOU HAD ISSUES WITH ANY MAN?
Of course, yes. As a young adult, I’ve had experiences with different relationships. We are all different people and when we meet people who have a totally different background from us, we tend to clash. There are some that will drop along the way and there are some that will move with you.
DO YOU SOMETIMES GET DEPRESSED?
Trust me, being physically challenged is not the major issue, I feel depressed when I’m broke. At the moment I’m due for surgery, I am having complications from polio, so right now I am on a waiting phase. While I’m a trained Lab Scientist, I also have skills as a makeup artist where I get to teach in the comfort of my house and maybe do a professional makeup for brides and every other person who wants to look beautiful.
HOW DO YOU UNWIND?
I go out, I visit friends, I read books, I hang out, I listen to music and basically I do everything life has to offer.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE IN THE SAME CONDITION WHO ARE DEPRESSED?
Unfortunately, attention is not given to people living with disability, so most times you have to strive for yourself to become the person you want to be. If people with such disability fall into depression, I understand; what I do basically is to have a positive attitude towards life, dream big, make inquiries and somehow everything has a way of falling in place. For instance, when I gained admission into the University of Lagos, I didn’t have a dime on me because I lost my dad when I was in Secondary school and things were really rough for us but I knew I wanted to go to school, even though things were not okay financially, it has a way of working out.
WHAT WAS THAT ‘BIG DREAM’ AS A CHILD?
When I was younger, I have always wanted to be someone popular who wants to encourage people through my life story, so right now I won’t say I’ve achieved my dreams basically because I have bigger things ahead.
WHO INSPIRES YOU?
Well…I won’t able to mention names but lives around me through different people’s experiences and stories have been my major motivation and inspiration. I inspire myself too, sometimes after seeing others doing well in their own little way, if you don’t inspire yourself you’d probably not move.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH NEGATIVITY?
I realize people who have negative things to say are not happy people, so I actually do feel sorry for them. I mean you cannot give what you don’t have.
WHAT ARE THE QUALITIES YOU WANT IN A MAN?
My dream man is someone who is real, down to earth, hardworking and God fearing.
WHO IS YOUR CELEBRITY CRUSH?
Barrack Obama is my celebrity crush (laughs).