Serifat Emitomo, the mother of a 21-year-old lady with hearing and speech impairments, Temitope Aina, talks to BOLA BAMIGBOLA about her daughter’s condition and how she is coping with them
What is your daughter’s current occupation?
My name is Sherifat Emitomo. I am Temitope’s mother. She has a hearing challenge and she can’t speak, but she managed to learn a vocation. She has completed her apprenticeship in hairdressing. But she has yet to open a salon.
There was a post on social media recently suggesting that the member representing Obokun State Constituency in Osun State House of Assembly, Adewumi Adeyemi, donated equipment to Temitope for her to commence work as a hairdresser. How did she meet the lawmaker?
Adeyemi must have observed Temitope at party meetings. She is a lively person and despite her challenges, she always displays passion in whatever she does. Also, there was a robbery incident some time ago in Ibokun. Some gunmen robbed one of our leaders in the Peoples Democratic Party in Ibokun. The robbers trailed the victim to his house from Osogbo where he had gone to collect some cash and they snatched the money from him.
Incidentally, Temitope was not far from the scene of the robbery. Her boss, who was handling her hair-dressing training, had her shop located close to the scene of the robbery. When the incident happened and the robbers were fleeing, Temitope saw them and ran after them. She was chasing the robbers.
Did the robbers know that she was running after them?
She could have been killed but the robbers obviously could not hear her since was dumb. She miraculously escaped death that day. The incident happened at the victim’s house. When she was chasing the robbers, the victim, a PDP chieftain, saw her and commended her for her courage. I believe from then on, the man and others in PDP decided that Tope needed help.
Also, during the grand finale of the reelection campaign of Adeyemi who represents Obokun State Constituency in the House of Assembly, a member of the opposition party attacked Temitope and beat her with a talisman. It was God that saved her that day because she nearly died.
Why was she attacked?
It was a normal disagreement that happens at political rallies. We took her to the hospital and the party settled the bills. That incident also raised Temitope’s profile as a courageous person and from then on, PDP leaders started showing interest in helping her.
Was she born without the ability to hear and speak?
It started when she was very young. When she was two years old and could not speak, I started running around and I have been in the process of finding a solution ever since. We have been trying all means to make sure she can speak but all to no avail. She is now 21 years old.
Why did she choose to become a hairdresser instead of attending a formal school?
She used to attend a school in Osogbo when she was living with her elder sister, but when her elder sister’s husband died, she stopped going to school and relocated to Ibokun. When she returned home and I didn’t want her to be left without any skill, I asked her what she wanted to do and she chose to become a hairdresser.
How do you communicate with her since she cannot hear or speak?
I understand her very well. We communicate effectively using signs. At times, we discuss for hours because she is a lively person, even with her disability.
How did she cope with learning to become a hairdresser?
It is tough. I took her to three different people but they rejected her because of her condition. However, the fourth person accepted her and promised to teach her. Her boss really tried. She taught her very well. Temitope is very good at her trade. She can plait hairstyles that an able-bodied person may not be able to plait; she can plait it well if you describe the style for her and she sees a picture of it.
What did the lawmaker do for her?
He bought equipment for a hairdressing salon for her. I was really surprised by the gesture. When they were all saying the party would help Temitope, I had thought it was a mere political promise. However, her boss called me one day and told me that the lawmaker called on her to come for the equipment. I didn’t follow her because I thought it would be something that may not be worth the stress. I told Temitope’s sister to follow her. But when they came back with all the equipment, I could not believe my eyes. Adewumi Adeyemi really tried.
What was Temitope’s reaction when she saw the equipment?
She was very happy when she saw them. She held Adeyemi’s leg and cried.
Does your daughter have a salon now?
She has not got a shop but the lawmaker has tried paying for those equipment. We want to secure a shop and buy goods there too. We also need to do all the painting and other decorations needed for a beauty salon before she starts. We need help to get these done.
I want to appeal to all parents and the general public not to see people with physical challenges as hopeless. Parents of children with this type of disability should take care of them. They can still attain their full potential if they are well-guided and trained.