Meet Emmanuel Dzikunu, the disabled using his ability to make a difference

Future Life Emmanuel Dzikunu Teikpa

Sat, 24 Apr 2021 Source: Isaac Kyei Andoh

“One day, I went to Accra to provide raw materials for my business, just when I was about to board a car home, I saw a cripple man begging. A man gave him money. I went close, called the man, picked a shoe polish and brush and asked that I polish his shoe for him. I then spoke to the man, got him shoe brush and police and told him to render shoe polishing service to people instead of begging. I went there later to teach him how to sew torn shoes. In just a matter of months, he had set up a small place at Kasoa.”

Ladies and gentleman, I want to introduce to you, Mr. Emmanuel Dzikunu Teikpa.

Born, February 21, 1979, young Dzikunu suffered a strange illness one morning and lost his ability to use his limbs from his waist downwards and one arm after being in a coma for a month. The rest of his life was to find ways to survive life as a disabled from a poor family and achieving acceptance in a society that looks with contempt, the physically handicapped.

Without the benefit of formal education, a window of opportunity was opened to him when he heeded to the good counsel of a friend to learn how to make shoes as alternative means of livelihood to be perpetually dependent on his family.

In a country that appears to have no plan for the vulnerable, exploiting his physical handicap and feeding on his misery wouldn’t have been a shameful choice given his condition. Dzikunu is aided by clutches, to be able to make any movement, he has leg calipers fitted to his legs which he has to loosen or tighten depending on whether he wants to sit or move.

Despite all these, he decided to give a crack at life by not only finding a decent means of livelihood but also helping others in a similar condition to be productive.

Professionally trained to make slippers and sandals, Mr. Dzikunu decided to place what he had on the table for all physically challenged to freely tap into.

The drive to make such a difference saw him establish Future Life for the Disabled (FLD), a vocational training school for persons with disability. The school has since its inception trained over 200 beneficiaries and currently has a new class about to enroll.

Speaking to us when we paid him a visit at the centre to learn firsthand the story of his journey so far, Mr Dzikunu recounted his struggles bef6re and during the establishment of the 6rsytebefore setting up the institution, the people who helped him along the way and the lesson leant along the way.

On founding Future Life for the Disabled

“We founded an association for the disabled intending to use it as a means for attracting support from government and other institutions because it was difficult doing this as individuals After some time, the need to instead use my skill as a tool for helping the disabled downed me because it proved profitable and made me independent when I put it to use”

According to him, to make the dream a reality, he contacted the social welfare, Ga West Municipal Assembly and other government agencies for assistance but they all turned him. He recounted an incident in 2014 when the MCE at Ga Central treated him like a hoodlum when he decided to call on him for assistance at his office.

“After climbing the stairs to the last floor without any help, I chanced on the MCE and greeted him, just before I would say a word, the man started attacking me verbally and asked that I leave the office immediately and never step foot there again.

My persistence in finding help got him so offended that he didn’t even want to see my face. All I wanted was to get help, they kept asking me to go and come but got angry because instead of giving up, I kept going there as they directed.

That experience demoralized him and made him reconsider the decision to build something for the disabled. However, images of the disabled begging in the streets haunted him and kept him going during those difficult times until help arrived.

He met a man who offered to help the dream see the light of day. The man who prefers being anonymous would give them money to buy a plot of land and followed up with provisions for the building of the centre. Effort to get support from Government proved futile until lack smiled on him when he chanced on the then Vice-Presidential Candidate of the NPP who took interest in his visions, visited the centre and touch by what he saw, gave them and amount of Twenty Thousand Ghana Cedis to buy wood and other materials for the roofing.

Meeting with CEO of Koans Estates

“Recounting his encounter with the Koans Estate boss, a near teary Dzikunu had this to say: when we completed the building, we needed equipment for the training, some building materials and food for our trainees. I didn’t know anything about Mr Anokye of Koans Estate but based on a recommendation from a friend of our institution, I decided to take a chance”

“I am used to being looked down upon, I hardly expect to be treated with dignity, that is how experience over decades has taught me, it has taught me to lower my expectations of people. I went to Koans ready for the worse”

He was however blown away by the reception the Koans boss gave him, “I didn’t expect him to be as nice and put in the effort he did when I told him our story”

Koans Estate would go on to provide the centre with 5 industrial machines, food and 50 bags of cement at the onset. With the school struggling to reopen for the current term, the company provided food to cater for 20 members during the term with the assurance of sustaining the support beyond this season.

Mr Dzikunu called on other organizations and individuals to emulate the gestures of Koans Estate and assist the centre because the cost of maintaining the place and ensuring that beneficiaries are taken care of is very expensive.

Future Life for the Disabled is a vocational training school that provides free training on shoe and dressmaking for persons with disability. The Center at its fullest capacity houses 64 persons with disability. Hostels facilities are available top house those who travel far to access the service no extra cost. Beneficiaries are fed, trained and after completion of training given a start-up capital. Aside the role of philanthropist in keeping the school running, sales from the slippers and sandal serve as an import source of revenue for running the centre,

Future Life for the Disabled has taken many persons with disability from the streets, given skill in fashion, making of shoes, beads and helped them set up their own businesses.

The vision of its founder, Emmanuel Dzikunu is to open a branch in each region of Ghana and get as many disabled off the street as possible.

For now, however, help is needed to keep the current training school afloat.

Columnist: Isaac Kyei Andoh