Liberia: 15-Year-old School’s Closing Speaker Defends Persons Living with Disabilities
MONROVIA – The program was for the Grace & Glory Academy—an educational institution that begins from Kindergarten and ends at 6th Grade—located at 2nd Street, Sinkor, Monrovia. The school is a few meters from the headquarters of the Monrovia City Government, popularly called Monrovia City Corporation.
The program was the 13th Graduation Ceremony, held on Sunday, July 17, 2022.
Before the main program, Ms. Success S. Hardy (6th Grader), born in 2007, posed with her biological mother (with a deformed leg) and the School’s Principal outside of the venue, for photo shoot.
“My disability started when I was one-year-old,” Madam Deborah Hardy, born in 1985, told this writer. But, she couldn’t remember what caused the “semi-circular shape” of her left leg.
The disabled mother also told this writer what she did to raise money for her daughter’s education.
“I sold biscuits, cold water, and many other small, small things to get the money needed for my daughter to acquire knowledge,” she said.
She also talked about several non-disabled person’s perceptual blockades she had met during her search for job prior to her indulgence in self-employment.
“Most of those I had met for to employ me or connect me to an employment had bluntly told me, I won’t be at the workplace on time because of my leg, which causes my walking slow,” she recalled.
She is a member of the National Union of Organization of the Disabled (NUOD), a private advocacy-and-empowerment-centered national independent body of persons living with disabilities. She’s also a member of a group of disabled women that network on economic empowerment and mentoring.
Inside the hall (preaching section of the Church that owns the School) was noisily chaotic from sounds of colliding covers of pots and other metal objects by over-excited parents, and the program’s Master of Ceremony continual screams to loitering parents (taking photos of their children) to go back to their seats.
“Many people in our World today speak high volume that a person living with disability or a person with physically challenged condition cannot achieve higher education or academic excellence,” Ms. Success S. Hardy reminded the body of students, parents, and guests during the indoor program, after she had introduced the topic of her speech—“Disability Is Not Inability”—and recognized various personalities present.
“Success” in anything, the 15-year-old Speaker continued, is based on a person’s thoughts and actions, not on the person’s physical condition,
“Just as the Holy Bible says, “with God, all things are possible”, that is to say, everyone that suffers from such condition should put their trust and hope in God to achieve everything they desire,” she said, and rolled her eyes around the hall.
She came to her biological mother’s deformed physical condition.
“My mother with a disable morphology has the ability of putting her trust in God and receiving all that she cares to receive for our family’s financial upkeep and abundance,” she said, and looked toward her mother sitting in the front row of seats.
“According to Philosophers,” she continued, “if any man or woman imagines, believes, and works, he or she will get what he or she desires.”
Back to the Biblical route, the juvenile Speaker said: “The Holy Bible says, ‘As a man thinks, so he shall become’.”
Giving explanation of the Biblical quotation, Ms. Hardy said: “It means that your physical condition is not the problem if you have the brain to think. It is the inability to think that causes the inability to achieve success.”
In the conclusion part of her Speech, Ms. Hardy urged everybody in the hall to “trust God first and keep thinking and having good thoughts that shall lead to the imagination, believing, and achieving.”
“Main while”, she came to the final line of words, “Disability Is Not Inability,” she repeated, genuflected, and said, “I thank you.”
An official of the School told this writer, that student Success S. Hardy was selected as the Speaker of the 13th Graduation Set based on the “sensitivity and universal message in her presented “topic”, out of dozens of subjects from different students of the 6th grade class.
“You know, the issue of disability, in any part of the World, is the hottest,” the school’s official gave reason for the School’s administrative body’s selection of Ms. Hardy’s submitted speech.
There were other inspirational oral performances by other students and hilarious reactions from their parents and other persons listening to them.
Some of the presentation were: Praise & Worship by a body of students from different classes; “Rivers of Liberia” (and Counties they are located) by Mircle T. Wollor, age 6 (6th-grade class); “Fifteen Counties of Liberia and Their Capital Cities” by Stevens A. Sonnia, age 7; “What Makes A Good School” by Jenneh N. Konneh (age 5) of the Kindergarten-2 class.
A group of students did a presentation about Careers (Teacher, Nurse, etc.); another group presented on “Bible Verses”
The oral presentation that generated the highest ovation and clapping was a Rap by student Prosper V. Ciaffa, age 11, of the 5th Grade class. His lyrics were mostly about the incomparable status of his school to any of the other schools in Sinkor and students’ joy from teachers’ teaching methods.
“The title of my Rap is, ‘The School is Too Magical’,” Mr. Ciaffa said to me during a brief chat outside the hall, after the program.
Awards were given to students for being best attired in uniform, punctuality in class, and other attributes.
“For every new level, there is a new devil—a challenge,” declared Mr. Bright Chimezu Onywkwere, Resident Pastor of Grace & Glory International Church, owner of the School, said in the Closing Remark for Rev. Caesar B. Snyder—School’s Proprietor/Principal and Senior Pastor of the Grace & Glory International Church, owner of the Grace & Glory Academy.
According to the student who read the history of School, the Grace & Glory Academy was founded in 2007, started with 44 students, started with tuition-free education, but the administrative body later began collecting school fees to buy stationery and pay teaching staff when the student population became increasing at a higher rate. The current student population is 126, the student added.
The Graduation Mood continued at student Success S. Hardy’s home on 24th Street, Monrovia.
A deaf-causing music was oozing from a stereo set stationed in front of plastic chairs.
A man in yellow long-sleeve shirt, long trouser and shoes was dancing madly to a native song coming out from the musical box, with an elderly woman.
Later, the celebrant’s mother, in silk blouse and cloth trouser, joined him and they jointly danced.
The dancers were being watched by the celebrant and her father, Mr. Michael Hardy, and their neighbors. The graduate was in a white T-shirt with photo of her in graduation hat (at the front) and her motivational comment—“I have a vision despite my mother’s physical condition”—at the back of the T-shirt.
The celebrant’s school certificates were on display on a table in front a huge plastic banner with photo of her in school uniform.