Physically challenged woman gets emotional on TV as she recounts climbing onto airplane

Bondzie.png Jennifer Mensah-Bonzie

Wed, 3 Aug 2022 Source: gbcghanaonline.com

The public has been urged to treat the physically challenged with dignity and create enabling environments for persons with disabilities.

This, according to Jennifer Mensah-Bonzie, a Ghanaian woman living with a disability, is because “there should be an accommodation created for these people.”

Her appeal comes on the back of what she describes as an unpleasant airplane experience and how she had to struggle to board domestic flights in Ghana without any assistance.

Speaking on GTV’s breakfast show, the founder of VIGILO Foundation said she was surprised to be told by an airline to climb the stairs herself.

“I come annually to donate to the physically challenged. I donate 80% to the hospital that taught me how to use crutches when I was young and then 20% out of Accra—it could be Kumasi, Tamale, wherever just to bless people. Last year, I was here and decided to go to Kumasi with my 20% to bless. I got on the flight, normal thing, they gave me the wheelchair and we got to the point where they wheeled me to the bus. They pulled up this wooden thing to mount the bus and wheeled me onto the bus. We got to the flight, the stairs were down and I asked how am I going to get up there. They said you have to climb,” she stated on Wednesday, August 3.

The US-based Ghanaian—who refused to give the airline’s name for privacy reasons— continued that an employee of the airline stopped all attempts to help her get on the aircraft.

“I said well when I bought my ticket, I indicated that I had a wheelchair and when I got to the airport you gave me a wheelchair and so I need assistance. Is there a lift that can put me up there? They said no, that is why they don’t sell tickets to the physically challenged. The lady who was working on the aircraft and standing by the gate said this and I said okay. The guy at the bottom with the yellow jacket was trying to help me climb, she said don’t help her. I had my three daughters with me and they came with their friend who was white. She was like Mrs. Bonzie what’s going on? She tried pulling her camera but my thing was it was my country. If I take her back she can use that and it’s not pleasant so I said put down the camera and let me deal with it.”

She disclosed that she faced the same challenge coming back to Accra but decided to keep quiet because she felt insulted and it was acceptable to them. Another woman, she noted, also faced the same situation.

“This lady is older than me, diagnosed with cancer, polio, and paralyzed from the hip down, was wheeled to the bottom of the stairs and they asked her to climb. The sad part is, today 2022, this 57-year-old lady had her palm on the floor, put her hip on the ground and climbed up like a kid to the flight, and then crawled like a baby, sat right behind me, and fought her way to sit on the flight,” she added, tearing up.

Mrs. Mensah-Bonzie asked, “This is should it be that they always have to sit by the roadside and beg for money and so they cannot afford plane tickets? Is that the mission for them? Come on. This is not nice. I managed to get on but that really touched me. I can go back to the US and live my normal life with domestic flights and everything else but think about these people.”

She suggested that a home fit for someone living with a disability should avoid stairs but rather make a ramp where they do not have to use their physical strength to make the place environmentally friendly for them.

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Source: gbcghanaonline.com
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