16 October 2011
Of course, Syracuse is also well known for it's snow and cold weather every winter. And Sola admits, he has never seen or experienced snow before, but he is getting prepared!
Sola has lived with a disability his whole life due to a bout with polio at 11 months of age. And he now lives with a passion, due to that same disability, for bringing prominence to the issue of disabilities in Nigeria, where those who are stricken are generally left out of society.
The difference he ponders upon, between those like himself and those stricken with disabilities whom find themselves on the street, is education. Sola was fortunate to have parents with positive outlooks on life and the where-with-all to send Sola to school to reduce the impact that his disability would have on his life. Now, he strives to do the same for those in suffering who may not have the family or social structure to ensure their success in life.
Project Restoration (PR) is an NGO which Sola founded in 2009 "To impart and empower people living with disabilities for a purposeful life on planet Earth". This is accomplished through programming in education & scholarship; The Mobility Aids and Appliances Project (MAPP), advocacy, and networking. Sola wants to assist people in feeling that there is a reason to be here regardless of disability; that there are no accidents from God, we are all here for a specific purpose, and PR will help those with disabilities to find and enable that purpose.
Traveling so far from home for schooling would be a challenge for anyone, let alone one faced with a disability requiring a wheelchair in a wintery snow-bound city. Sola counts his blessings, and gives special thanks to his friend Denise Nepveux whom met him at the airport upon his arrival, and has been by his side as he integrates to our community here in Upstate NY.
It was upon Denise's recommendation that they attended the Westcott Street Cultural Fair in September where Sola points out especially enjoying the music and dance at the fair - he remembers a particular Latino performance that stood out as he recollects.
It was also her pointing out the clothing swap at the Alchemical Nursery booth across the street that prompted their stop looking for a hat for the winter. Which they found, along with a warm sweater that will help Sola feel comfy and warm whether at his studies or traversing the Syracuse City winter wonderland.
It's been exceptionally warm in Syracuse this fall, and we are still waiting for our first flake of snow to fall, but Sola will be ready. With his first winter hat from the clothes swap, and the personal philosophy of "The most serious handicap anyone can suffer is an impossibility complex", he is taking on the world and the misconception and stereotype that those with disabilities have no place in Nigerian society.
Note: Sola has accomplisehd much so far with Project Restoration, but still doesn't have a website. He is looking to learn the skills necessary to develop one, and is open to help from the community. If you have the opportunity to either help teach Sola how to create a website, or even assist him in the process, please contact us at Alchemical and we will coordinate an introduction for you.
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