Farida Bedwei is the author of 'Definition of a Miracle'. This book recounts the story of an 8-year old girl’s struggle to cope with cerebral palsy in a community where people suffering with the disease are routinely misunderstood and viewed as incapable of contributing meaningfully to the society.
At age 1, Farida was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Despite this medical condition, she has excelled in her field of work as a software engineer. It is for this reason, I have decided to feature her as my pick for today's International Women's Day.
Below Farida shares her thoughts in an interview I had with her;
1. What has been your biggest dream?
My biggest dream as a writer is to win a Booker and a Pultzier. My biggest dream as a software engineer/ entrepreneur is to head the first Fortune 100 company in Ghana. My biggest dream as a Ghanaian woman with a disability is be able to change perceptions on disability in Ghana and Africa.
2. Would you describe yourself as a writer or as a programmer?
I would describe myself as a Software engineer with a natural flair for writing.
3. What is your book about and what motivated you to write it
The book is about contemporary Ghanaian society through the eyes of a disabled little girl. I wrote this book to change perceptions; perceptions about those of us in Ghana, Africa and other third world developing countries and, perceptions about persons with disabilities. We are much more than AIDS, Child-Soldiers, Hunger and Corruption and it is about time we made this known to all. It is time we told our own stories and changed the image the rest of the world has of our beautiful continent.
There are many who equate physical disabilities with mental disabilities, and mental disabilities with lack of intelligence. Both perceptions are wrong and must be erased from the mindset of society. I always say the reason people with physical disabilities are treated differently is because majority rules. If we were the majority, the able-bodied folks would be the ‘disabled’ ones because the world would be engineered to fit our needs instead of yours.
4. What is your advice to others with disabilities who have given up
When a part of your body doesn't function as it should, another part usually overcompensates for the 'damaged' part. Find that part and exploit it to the fullest. Don't sit at home and feel sorry for yourselves, it won't help you, it won't help me or other people with disabilities.
5. Do you think there is hope for the Ghanaian youth?
Yes I do. They just need to work hard and rise above the level of mediocrity, experimenting and moving outside the comfort zone of working in a bank/ for the government. We have enough bankers in Ghana, we need more creative minded people.
6. What would you say is the best moment in your life?
Taking my first step unaided at the age of 11, entering mainstream school for the first time at the age of 12, passing the BECE with flying colours, getting my first paycheck, getting my first degree, holding the first copy of my book, hearing a glowing review of my book at its launch by the Fmr. Register of the University of Ghana.