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I thought i was the only deaf in the world until i saw other deaf students around me – CEO OpeLove Bag

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It is a great achievement for any man to perform extraordinary acts – but it is even more so when this is done despite a terrible disability. This is the story of Oluwadare Opeyemi, a deaf young lady in her early twenties have distinguished herself in her chosen field despite her disability. Through the power of her arts, this talented young lady is a living example of the popular saying: disability is not inability. Ibadankiniso Media was in her workshop recently where we had a long conversation with her through the help of an interpreter.

IBADANKINISO:  Kindly give us an insight into your person

OPELOVE:  My name is Opeyemi Oluwadare, and I am also known as Opelove. I am deaf  but that doesn’t mean I cannot communicate. For me, communication doesn’t only entail speaking. Its involves a process of passing message between two people. As long as an individual can decode a message I pass and I can decode his or her response, communication has taken place

IBADANKINISO: The depth of your knowledge is amazing and your words are deep. How did you come across such thoughts about communication which you just expressed?

OPELOVE: Communication is the fundamental attribute of my type. Through education, we were exposed to these thoughts. Presently I am a student of the University of Ibadan and I read a lot about these things

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IBADANKINISO: Would you say that being deaf has been an obstacle in your academic journey?

OPELOVE:  To some extent it has. Firstly, I attended a normal school with normal pupils. When the teacher is teaching, I find it hard to comprehend. So, my teacher will always tell me to copy my friends and that was how she will grade me. This method wasn’t bringing out the best in me. Besides, I was not given the adequate attention I needed. Eventually, I left the school for a special school where I eventually finished my primary education. The special school enormously gave me educational/ career breakthrough.  I thought I was the only deaf in the world, until I saw other deaf students around me. I was excited, knowing the fact that am not the only deaf in the world. I rounded up my primary school at Ibadan school of the deaf. From there, I went to Methodist Grammar School Bodija Ibadan. I continued my special education at FCE special Oyo State, where I studied Economics, I finished in 2014. Presently, am a student of University of Ibadan centre for distance learning, am studying Social works. From my elementary education through secondary school it was not truly an obstacle but at the university it is I was not able to do my desire course, because we have only one interpreter for all courses, so most of us were pushed to social works.

IBADANKINISO: Who has been your greatest inspiration?

OPELOVE: God has been my greatest inspiration, He has been helping me, even when I don’t know what to do, God will teach me in the dream and when I wake up, I will remember clearly. I will cut and make it well.  Also,  my parent. My journey is incomplete without them.  

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IBADANKINISO: How did you conceive the idea of going into craft and leather work?

OPELOVE: When I was in Jss3, at Methodist Grammar School, I have been making small purses which I put round my neck to keep money.  I did it for fun because I enjoy it and my School mates also admire and buy from me. Later, I stopped making it, after my secondary school, during my teaching practice exercise, one of the teachers was abusing a student that she does not know anything. So, I asked myself, what do I know? I could not remember that I used to make bag. After my teaching practice, there was an indefinite strike, during the strike; my mother asked me what do I want to learn? I was confused, she advised me to pray about it. I prayed about it, God told me I used to do something before; He said I should continue with what I used to do. Later, my mum told to widen my knowledge in this handwork. , she advised me to learn how to make school bags and other things with leather. God brought someone to teach me, but I could not learn much from her because she was hiding some skills from me, this made me feel empty. Eventually I seek the face of God and He put me through. I made a school bag for myself and took it to school, my colleagues and lecturers appreciated it and that was the beginning of my desire to keep doing it though some found it very difficult to believe I made the bag.

IBADANKNISO:  Is being deaf an obstacle in your business journey?

OPELOVE: I was born profoundly deaf and I use American Sign Language to communicate. I read people’s lips, If I don’t understand them I will write whatever I want to say on the paper, and they will also write back to reply.

IBADANKNISO: We saw you at the Ibadan Entrepreneurs Network gathering the previous week. How did you hear about the program?

OPELOVE: A church member informed me about it. I went there to exhibit my works. It’s indeed a network; my
clients have increased through the network.

IBADANKINISO: What advice would you give people with disability?

OPELOVE: My advice for people with disability and special students is that they should know their talent. Their God-gift talent. I have a friend who has a talent in drawing, nobody taught her. Your talent can make you great; search yourself before you choose your career. I love my work, I thank God I know my talent, some people learn a skill for 2-3 years, yet they can’t practice it, know what will make you happy. I’m proud of what I do; I can make bags and hats. I learnt bag for two months, hat for three weeks and I know more than what I was taught.

IBADANKINISO: Thanks for having this conversation with us

OPELOVE: You are most welcome.

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