Working With Sickle Cell Disease
After senior high school, I applied for a short course in broadcast journalism. I was so good before I completed the course, my lecturers already recommended me for a broadcasting job. I settled later to work with an advertising firm, Dynamic Image.
Balancing work and health
The working hours did not agree with my health system and I was getting sick a lot. I did not only use my salary for medications and hospital bills, but I also got fired. My employer started complaining at one point and eventually, I lost my job. I applied at a few other companies to try my luck out, but things didn’t work out in those places either. It was around this time that I started modeling.
Trying different jobs
I started modeling as a hobby to take my mind off things. It was really helping, and then the money started coming with it. Gradually I became so rooted that I couldn’t see myself doing anything else.
Early on, I studied radio and tv broadcasting. I tried media, but same old story. I used to write poetry around the same time. I finally found a radio station to co-host an entertainment show. This show goes from 8 pm till 1 am. I really loved my job, even though it was pro bono. It kept me busy, happy, active, and I could finally boast that I had a job too.
When the radio station closed, I was back to the old me. Depressed, unhappy, suicidal, you name it. After a while, I decided to go back to modeling. I had to start from scratch because I was not active for a while, and people were beginning to forget I existed. I sent my CV to all the places I could think of. I finally realized that my mistake was including in my resume that I have sickle cell.
I started calling the places I sent my CV to and asked questions. Why am I not being considered for the job? Am I not qualified enough? Was I inappropriately dressed?
After a year without a job, I decided to go back to the modeling world. I called a few friends to call me for jobs, and I started getting them. Modeling in Ghana doesn't pay much, but it was enough to pay my bills, so I was content. Then I started getting attacks on set. This would mostly ruin the shoot because I wouldn't be able to continue. Other times, I'd manage to finish them. With time, everyone got to know about my condition. Trust me, I've not had a single modeling job in ages.
Starting a new business
Luckily, I had saved enough to start a business. I ordered some hair extensions from China to sell. It sold so fast. I later found out it was cheaper in Nigeria, so I traveled there to get my second stock. After 8 months, I made enough to open my own shop.
Then I got diagnosed with a liver infection. The mission got aborted immediately, and the money went into medical care. By the time I was better, I had nothing in my account. Not even enough for water.
For a long time, I had to depend on help from others to survive. I needed time to heal and couldn’t work, but I was out of money. And my rent had expired. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I went job hunting. Guess what? I didn’t get a single job even though I was qualified.
The additional challenges of living with a chronic illness
As hard as our lives are already, we still have to deal with joblessness. There are no disability funds from the government to rely on here in Ghana. Eventually, you become “the beggar” because you are always asking for help. Most people even label it as being “lazy.”
I love to work for my own money. I hardly ask anyone for a dime, and I try to do it all by myself. Not getting a job or lasting in one because of my health to me is just not right. Does it mean I don't have the right to a paying job because I have a blood disorder? Well, until people get more education on sickle cell and take it seriously, sickle cell warriors all over the world are denied the right to fend for themselves. This is not only unfair but inhuman.
How is your mental health right now?