UPDATE: As of 25/09/2015 Nigeria has been removed from the WHO’s Polio Endemic List!
Having been born in Nigeria, I hail from one of three countries where polio is still unfortunately endemic, the other two being Pakistan and Afghanistan. I had contracted the poliovirus before my first birthday and do not know a time in my life before this disability. While having polio has made certain aspects of my life more difficult or tricky, I am eternally grateful that it was not as bad as it could have been. In some very severe cases, polio can be fatal or lead to paralysis and make it difficult for the victim to breathe, let alone do much else.
I am fortunate as I was able to move to London at a young age and have been afforded the opportunities that have been denied to so many others. Many people from affected countries, my own included, are not able to achieve their potential to its fullest purely because of their geography meaning that they can’t afford many things that I have come to take for granted in England.
As previously mentioned, the poliovirus has been eradicated in all but three countries around the world and it was prevalent in the UK as well as other parts of the Western world as a “baby killer”. A lot of the people who ask me “what’s wrong with your leg?” have no idea about polio when I tell them, and it’s usually people from older generations that will have memories of how devastating it was. It’s great to live in a country without fear of a potential outbreak.
Even with the positive effect that moving to the UK has had on my life and the different things that I have been able to experience. Living in London since I was five years old with polio and scoliosis has given me plenty of things to complain about. The endless underground stairs, the airport searches triggered by my metallic leg brace, the looks and questions I occasionally get asked as I make my way through the day.
Yet the very challenges of living in a large, fast-paced and occasionally insensitive city have forced me to thrive. Despite the occasional stares and remarks, Londoners, for the most part, have let me do my own thing. Teaching me from an early age that I should get on with it and learn to be self-sufficient—something for which I am eternally grateful.
Some countries are easier to navigate than others, be it through ease of access around the city or the attitudes of the people living there. So this website is dedicated to my past, present and future travels and what it feels like for me, to “travel while crip**”. The invariably awkward situations I find myself in and the rather peculiar questions I get asked. However, regardless of where you live, travelling while crip will always require more forethought, preparation and usually more money!
Jayonlife will focus on the different sights, sounds and smells of the places I have visited and the different attractions available to travellers, places that are well known and lesser known parts of the country. But it will also feature my thoughts on how other cities and countries compare to my hometown of London in terms of accessibility and the attitudes of the people towards disability as a whole. And in the future I would like to include the thoughts and experiences of some other people with disabilities, and those that know people with disabilities and have travelled with them.
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For more information on Polio and its effects, please click here
**Yes, I am aware of the “crips” and the “bloods”. I would like to stress that I have no affiliation with either.