She did not grow up privileged. Before her third birthday she was attacked with polio which left her in a wheel chair. Hers is a story of Perseverance in the face of challenges that has become a great life’s lesson for all who come in contact with her today.
She grew up determined, determined to rise above everything meant to bring her down. Determined not to allow herself to be a product of her disability today she has a diploma in international studies and diplomacy from the prestigious University of Benin.
The mother of one ventured into hair making after several failed attempt in securing a job. By virtue of hard work and commitment Joyous Beauty Salon is paying her bills.
Tell us a bit about your background?
My name is Joy, Emoefe Ubogo. I am from Oginibo, Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State. I have six siblings; I am the fifth child of Mr. and Mrs. D. M Ubogo. I was attacked by polio when I was barely three which is over three decades ago. I get my strength from the word of God which tells me that there is a better tomorrow, and also from my boy of 12. Most people see me as normal while others find it difficult to understand me.
I had my primary education in a special school, secondary in a normal all girls’ boarding school and I have a diploma in international studies and diplomacy from the prestigious University of Benin.
What were some of the challenges you faced while attaining your educational qualifications?
At the University of Benin, the building structure was my major problem in school, imagine going to the fifth floor on a wheelchair daily, I had to look at the faces of students to see a friendly face to ask for assistance to be carried up and down every day. A lot of people made fun of me while a few were willing to assist.
How did lecturers and your course mates treat you?
Lecturers were so difficult and not helpful they expected students to come up to their offices and the means wasn’t there for me to make such visit. But a lot of my course mates were wonderful.
Why didn’t you quit, what kept you going?
At some point I was tempted to quit but just kept going until I decided to quit because of financial hardship later on.
Work experience, positions held till date?
After school I worked with an NGO in Benin City for persons with disability and presently I own a salon.
Back then in Benin I was given an award by a group called ECMA. ‘Damsel that brings succor to the less privileged’
What happened, how did you end up in a wheelchair?
I ended up on a wheelchair after a couple of years of fighting polio. My dad is late now and I am living with my aged mother.
How long did take for you to adapt to this new situation?
One can never get adapted to this situation because every day you are faced with a new or good reason to want to end your life, especially at this critical time where the world is battling COVID-19. In all of this I can never give up on the Lord, because his mercies are new every morning.
How did your family and friends support and treat you during this trying period?
My parents are the best; they were exceptional what anyone would pray for in a trying time like that. My two younger sisters are supportive, contributing in whatever they can but my elder ones, my worst nightmare. Sometimes I wonder if we are really siblings.
In trying times like this, most people deny God, how is your relationship with God, in what capacity do you serve Him today?
I am a chorister in the house of God
Why are you in business today and not working in the public or private sector, where you are sure of monthly salary to pay your bills?
Knowing fully well that I had to survive I got into hair making after trying countless times to secure a position in the local, state and federal government offices. God used some individuals to assist, and with some little savings I had I was able to open Joyous Beauty Salon but presently we are managing to stay open.
What inspired the name of your beauty salon, what is it like running your own business, describe your typical day?
I got my business name Joyous Beauty Salon from my name and from the fact that I am beautiful both physically and at heart. I try to attempt all styles of hairdo though one cannot be master of all. Running this business is not as easy as I thought it would be. I do almost all my chores with little assistance from a small girl that works with me. I have one apprentice right now but I have trained three others.
What is the reaction of clients when they ask for the hair stylist, and you tell them that you are the person?
When people come around to make hair, if it is the first time and they haven’t seen me before, they feel uncomfortable, some even withdraw, but I guess it is the mindset of the people around here.
What was your most embarrassing moment as a stylist and how were you able to handle it?
My worse embarrassment was when a costumer said she cannot allow me make her hair. I do not blame her because she did not expect the sight that greeted her. That customer did not come back, not until some months later, I am guessing that by then she had summoned enough courage to deal with me. [Laughs].
Entrepreneurship has its ups and down, do you ever think of quitting?
Countless times I have thought of quitting but what else can I do without assistance? I refuse to beg to eat.
What has been your biggest challenge in day to day operations of the business?
One, lack of costumers then funds to get what customers really need. In a salon it is either you are making hair or selling weaves, extensions, closures, attachments, makeup, lashes, nails etc. if I do not work because my condition make customers uncomfortable and there is nothing to sell what do I do?
What are the most important values in business and life?
I have learnt that in business and life, patient is paramount and also being upright, not giving up no matter how tough it gets.
What motto do you live by?
Keep pushing because someday you will get there. If you cannot fly, run. If you cannot run, walk and if you cannot walk, crawl but by every means make sure you are moving.
What motivates you?
My Son is my motivation.
Who are those you look up to for inspiration?
Ayefele, and Cobhams are my mentors.
Between your parents who would you say was more influential in shaping your life?
My mum was more influential in shaping my life.
What government policies can be put in place to make life easier for physically challenged persons?
During employment season, Government should allocate slots for the physically challenged so that any challenged person that would like to work can be absolved into the system. Also grants should be given to assist; public buildings should be made assessable also, by putting ramps and rails.
Are you a member of the physically challenged association, what can they do to change how people perceive them as nothing but beggars and of no use to the development and growth of society?
I am a member of PWD Ughelli South. Like I earlier said opportunities should be given not just for the privileged alone.
Does being physically challenged limit you from dating, getting married, having kids, being wealthy, and fulfilling destiny?
It does limits us a lot, unless maybe by GRACE. Money actually rules the world.
What is next for you, where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I see myself in the future helping the less privileged. With the help of God through government and well-meaning individuals I believe the future is great.
Any pet project you want us to know about?
I am planning on setting up an organization were I can talk and teach, and also to advocate for challenged persons.
1 thought on “I Am Planning On Setting Up An Organization To Advocate For Challenged Persons- Joy Ubogo”
Indeed the physically challenged in our society needs attention and support. Let the government look into this and do something meaningful