Biose Falade, the Executive Director of Angel Wings Global Freedom Foundation, has defied odds by not allowing her disability to deter her from charting her course in life.
Born over 37 years ago with a virus that impeded from sitting upright and standing, Biose, who aims to have a leadership and skills training centre for the People Living With Disabilities (PLWDs) have been organising seminars in partnership with the initiative For Information Arts And Culture Development (IACD) American Corner in Ibadan Oyo state, which are meant to empower the PWDs in their respective lines of professions.
She speaks with Oladipupo Mojeed on her future plans for the PWDs.
Who is Biose Falade from when she was born till this moment?
Am Biose Oluwafunke Falade, am the second daughter of Prof Falade.
I was born and raised in Ibadan. I went to two primary schools, and two secondary schools am amazing that way.
I went to a Special Home Schools for four years. And after four years, my parents change me to a normal school because they believe am normal. So, they changed me to Bodija International Primary School, Bodija here in Ibadan.
Then after primary school, Oyo state government said that all children should be where they belong and they sent me back to Special Home School. I was there for like a year because I was unhappy because my parents didn’t want me to go there to start with. They just wanted to see if I will function there.
Since I didn’t function, they sent me to Emmanuel College where I started secondary school and I finished it. I did WAEC. But because of my handwriting, they thought I was cheating. I wrote the exam five times.
Thanks to them because they thought I was cheating. It was after five times that they realise that his girl is actually smart and it just her handwriting.
So after that, I did WAEC and passed, I went to Lead City University, where I read Mass Communication and Technology. I finished in 2015.
Then I started my NGO, Angel Wings Global Freedom Foundation; which is what I have been doing for close to five years now and am from Ekiti state, Ado-Ekiti to be precise.
How was growing up like in the midst of people who termed themselves as normal people?
Well, I grew up as normal. So, I don’t know what that word, normal means. Normal could mean you are walking on your head. Some people, walking on their head is quite normal. To other people walking on their side is quite normal. So, it depends on what normal is to you and I. It depends on what normal is to meet favour. That one can be anything.
I grew up with other children in a university environment all this discrimination was not part of the University of Ibadan, we were all part of each other’s life and I grew up having friends. I wasn’t hidden, I was always outdoors and everyone knew about me and it wasn’t something else.
I was actually the life of a party. My parents never actually found me in the house because I was always somebody or the other and we were always performing mischief all over the place, so it was fun.
Has there ever been an experience of stigmatisation from some part of people while growing up?
I have witnessed some. There was a certain in secondary school who said that “I wonder her mother kept her and didn’t drop her in the dump site”. Well, that was her own belief. Then in primary school when some of my teachers decided that I shouldn’t be seen outside because I was o a wheelchair; then I refuse to listen to their madness and I took power into my own hands and they called me a witch because I refused to obey their insane directives.
So, it just depends on how you take things; how you let things get to you. Who you are shouldn’t be defined by anything. it shouldn’t be defined by a disability or somebody’s opinion. And i didn’t let that define me.
Back to the present moment, the Angels of Wings is five. What is the goal of this NGO looking at your background and the challenges that you have faced?
The goals of Angel Wing’s is to ensure that young girls with a disability don’t think themselves lesser than who they are.
From my upbringing, I have found out that what you don’t want to do is what doesn’t get done. It’s what you let people tell you that you can’t be done. If you have a great background; not even a great background, if everybody is telling you can’t, but you believe you can, that is what Angel Wings is here to help you support and ginger you to believe that you can and that as you can, you will be okay. It’s not a matter of what people feel or what they don’t feel. No matter what you feel.
So, Angel Wings is going to be there for young girls with disability people fighting depression to tell them it’s okay, to tell them it’s fine; you have to be a part of the society and do things the right way.
From what has been done so far with Angel Wings, what has been your achievement and testimonials from PWDs?
I believed have achieved a lot; I believed that I have opened the doorway for more people to actually see persons with disability as human beings that people want to know more about.
And from feedback which is so many. Have seen people who after a session at a programme I had saying wonderful things. Have seen people after a personal session with me becoming beauty pageant themselves from wheelchairs.
Have seen people talking to me being my friend, just seeing them going from point A to B. I give glory to God for all that achievement. I can’t say it’s my power, but by God’s grace, am doing all that I can do.
What is the highest point of achievement so far with your NGO?
That was Ability in Disability (AID) Conference where we bring together PWDs and we talked about what is going on in our lives; how we can move forward, how things can go from point A to point B.
It’s not only abt a person with a disability now, but it’s also abt everybody. it’s abt what you go through in life and how you can overcome it even though you think they so insurmountable.
A lot of good things came out of AID Conference, and at the end of the day, and year, from feedbacks, I said yeah I started this narrative and people are doing great things out of this, am proud to say I did it.
One of your goals is to have a vocational centre for PWDs, can u throw more light on that?
The vocational centre is more than a vocational centre, it’s a leadership skill training centre. we will teach leadership skills; how to deal with a human being without them getting into hour head and twisting it all around.
It will also deal with every child’s self-esteem, it’s more than a vocational thing, the vocational training will be after you have learnt and to have shown that you can actually do better than what people say.
I want to stop something in the disability community; this charity ideology; that because you are disabled, you must receive charity; you are waiting for someone to help you. There is nobody in this world who was born to save you except you save yourself and if you don’t save yourself, nobody will.
There is a Yoruba adage that says the child that raises up his hand is the one that the parent will carry; if you don’t raise ur hand and you hold your hands down, you won’t go anywhere. So you have to fight for urself before anyone can fight for you. You have to be for yourself before anyone can be for you.
That’s what the vocational training centre is centred on. It’s more of leadership skill training all that.
What are the moves you have made so far to actualize this?
Proposals have been written and we are trying to get them out to people. We are still cleaning the rough patches little by little, with God all things are possible.
One of the challenges NGO faces in Nigeria is sponsorship. What are the challenges you have been facing concerning sponsorship or partnership?
I must be one of the lucky ones because I have not had challenges with a partnership. Have had awesome partnering company, NGOs. There are some partnering NGO that we work together on a permanent basis, work hand in hand. Things work well. I guess I am one of the luckiest.
You have been looking forward to having some celebrities into partnership with either by support or to come and inspire people at your programmes. Who are these celebrities that you would love to meet in this respect?
Lateef Adedimeji. And I said that because he is very smart.
And Lizy Anhjorin; I think she is very smart too.
Those are the two I think I will partner with especially Lateef Adedimeji because he is very cerebral despite the fact that he is acting which I humbly think is beneath him; it’s my own belief but I think he thinks really deep. I may be wrong but I think he is.