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CYDI will outlive my tenure, says Yuguda’s wife

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Hajiya Hauwa Abiodun Yuguda, the wife of the Bauchi state Governor, Mallam Isa Yuguda, is the founder of “Challenge Your Disability Initiative” (CYDI). In this interview with some journalists in Bauchi, she speaks on the activities of her pet project, across the state and how to integrate people with disabilities into the mainstream of the society. Ahmed Kaigama was there. Excerpts:

What is CYDI all about?
The Challenge Your Disability Initiative (CYDI) is out to make people challenge problems in their lives and also make such people self reliant. Disability comes in different ways but we concentrate more on drug abuse because the youth who are on drugs are disabled and then the physically challenged (the blind, crippled, deaf and lepers) We’ve decided to concentrate on them because of their neglect over time and I feel my NGO should be able to fight for their rights and make them self sufficient so that they can stop begging and live a normal life.
How has the journey been so far?
It has been a tough journey but with the assistance of God, much has been achieved. We have been able to get a law for people with disabilities which has made them to become an integral part of society. They now have their office and an agency that takes care of all their needs. I think that is a big achievement and I am sure other states will emulate what we are doing. I am going to see the wives of the governors of other states so that they will be able to fight for the rights of people with disabilities in their respective states.
However, you must know that what I am doing here is not only for Bauchi state we have worked in about four other states; it is something that will be done all over the federation. If God provides us with the necessary funds, we will be able to replicate it everywhere. For now, we have been able to touch four states.
Which are these states
They are Gombe, Adamawa, Yobe and Taraba states.
What has been your experience working with people with disabilities?
I have been with them since I was a young woman. I always have passion for them and always share everything I have with them way back in my secondary school days. I grew up loving them and appreciating them.
CYDI has been in existence since 2007; what are some of its remarkable achievements?
We have been able to achieve a lot. Right now, people with disability can take care of themselves; a lot of them told me that they now pay Zakat, some of them have built houses because we have been able to train more than 1,000 of them and empowered them. So, a lot of them are doing very well. In the area of drug abuse, we have been to all the schools and we have organised drug-free clubs in these schools. We interact with different people in the society. We have been able to bring people together to fight drug abuse in the society and this has really assisted us in Bauchi State. We have built a place for the mentally disabled. We were able to build a 22-room house for them to use as their clinic.
Ordinarily, dealing with people is a very difficult task; dealing with the physically challenged has its own peculiarity as well. How have you been able to cope with these challenges?
You see, people with disabilities are very difficult to handle, when they trust you, they now believe in you and God has assisted me to reach out to them. When I say stop, they stop. They really believe in me. Nobody can work with them (laughs). A lot of people find it difficult to work with them, but they see me as their mother. They listen to me. This is because when I came in, I was the first person to do what nobody has ever done for them. So, that made them to believe in me. For now, I don’t have any problem with them. Even when I started, I never had any problem with them in the first place. I treat them very special. In Bauchi State, I can boldly say that people with disabilities are more special than the normal people (laughs).
What are the programmes CYDI has this year?
Like I told you, now we have an agency in the state. What we will do is to collaborate with the government now. We will draw out the programme for them and then we will work with the government. We want to have skills acquisition centers for them. This time around, we are trying to make sure we give them something that they will be able to sell easily, we are giving them money for farming.
This is because farming is something that will be there all the time; they will be able to feed themselves and will be able to take care of themselves. The farming programme is what we have on ground for them now. We concentrate more on farming and my organization is working with another organization in the U.S, which is coming to give us money. We have been able to talk to the government, and they are willing on their own part to give us money not only for our people with disability but others from other areas too. Areas that would benefit include those with HIV/AIDS just like the less-privileged in general.
What we are doing is going to the communities because we learnt that most people who came here live around here and then some people come from other states. But those who are in the villages, who represent the poorest in the society, find it difficult to come here. So, what we are doing now is to go to the communities and take the empowerment programme to them. We are working with The Netherlands and we will be going to each community, we have started already with The Netherlands Leprosy Relief Organization who are working with us. They will be working with us for the next five years by the grace of God.
Do you receive any assistance from other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international bodies?
Like I told you, we are working with The Netherlands agency and then MTN and Zain have assisted us. A lot of organizations have been coming to tell us that they want to be part of what we are doing. Awalah Hotel too came to meet us that they want to be part of what we have been doing and they have been assisting us and a lot of organizations, NAPEP have assisted us, SUBEB, NDE, Rotary International and so many others. They have been coming on their own to tell us they want to work with us and they have contributed in one way or the other.
What has been the main challenge so far?
Finance! If there is money, we would have been able to do a lot but just because there is no money, we have been restricted more than what we would have loved to do.
Now that you have been able to get an agency for the disabled in the state, what are your plans in working with the agency?
Now that I am here, that is part of my programme. I am here today to open the office for them because they have staff already. We have a person with disability who is the chairman of the agency and we have other members. So, part of my programme is to arrange with them on how we are going to open the office officially and then, they will start work. Although, we have started work. Everything we are doing in this office (CYDI’s office), we are always meeting with them. There is already a budget. Like I told you earlier, we want to start another phase of skills acquisition programme for them, some who are in school are on scholarship. The government plans more emphasis on people with disabilities now than before.
The tendency has always been that every administration comes with their own programme and immediately after their tenure, the programme dies a natural death. What are you doing to ensure that CYDI goes beyond 2015?
CYDI has been my passion since I was a young girl, so this is why you see me spending so much money. All the money here is not from government, so if I want to leave it after the tenure of my husband I wouldn’t waste this money. We have investments. I have a farm that I have been investing on. It is used to be known as Challenge Your Disability Initiative Farm but when people told me that you don’t make money with NGO, I changed it to Gimbiya Farms, which is an investment for the organization and we are concentrating on farming. We also have Gimbiya Paints where we train people with disabilities to make paints. It is an avenue of sustainability for them. It is also a source of empowerment for them. These are two things I have on ground for them for their sustainability. It will be a source of investment for us because we are going to sell the things produced there and then use the money to sustain the organization because I feel without investment, it will be very difficult to run the organization and it is not every time that you have people that will assist you: You need something on ground. So, those two investments are specifically for the sustainability of the organization.

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