Jennifer Dede is such an inspiration. She lives life on her own terms and indulges in no pity party
“I don’t need the sympathy,” she tells me.
It is this bubbly, positive, can-do spirit that has gotten her through life despite being visually impaired and impoverished (only physically, I must say because she has such a rich spirit).
On Monday, my colleague Maxwell Kudekor and I visited her at home in Odotom, a farming community in the Eastern Region where she lives with her very loving and hardworking family, sans father. And boy, does she come from a family of strong women (a story for another day).
She’s learnt to draw great strength from challenging times in her life: an absentee father, poverty, stigmatization, people’s mean attitudes towards her, and is channeling it into more positive outcomes. And yes, from her little village in Odotom and thanks to the ingenuity of technology, sheer grit and determination, she’s well on her way to becoming Ghana’s first visually impaired TikTok Queen in addition to being a professional Musician and Journalist, her utmost dream.
She told me one relative said “she’d rather be barren than give birth to a blind child”. Her mother indeed confirms this. It hurt then but she’s learnt to overcome it.
To know Jennifer is to love her. Nothing fazes this one. And she has such a presence, such grace.
What caught my attention when we first spoke on phone, and when we first met? Her impeccable English, eloquence, confidence and sense of awareness. I was just filled with awe, first, as we talked about her life on the phone, then as she gave my team and I directions to her little village and finally when we met and I sat down, watching her peel cassava and saw how she handled the knife so expertly. Among other things.
Her mother, Aunty Korkor, a farmer is also into the production of gari. This is what the entire family depends on. Jennifer has been helping her since she was eight (8) years and from 4:30am to 10pm, six days a week, she’s heavily involved in the production, from peeling the cassava through all the processes it goes through before being fried on fire for it to turn into the fine grains that you and I love so much.
It is a lot of hard work for a young girl but she isn’t complaining at all. Rather, she finds fulfilment in knowing that she’s contributing to the family’s upkeep. And more so when the proceeds from her labour makes it possible for her to buy items such as provisions, toiletries, learning materials as well as provides her with some pocket money for school at the Okuapeman Senior High where she’s currently in SHS 2.
And like any teenager across the world, Jennifer is quite crazy about social media and actively started a TIkToK account in March this year. It’s quite lit and it details her life at home and what it means to have a physical disability in Ghana.
One desire of hers is to get people living with disabilities off the streets and create a space for them to have more dignifying lives. And if anyone can, I know this girl from Odotom can
Jennifer Dede is unstoppable!
NB: Jennifer’s story airs on the JoyNews Platforms. Do make a date!
The author, Esinam Osei is a journalist with Multimedia and the producer of JoyFM’s Super Morning Show.
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