Artwork for podcast I'm Back!
Giving a voice to the voiceless, with Rita Ofili
Episode 912th July 2022 • I'm Back! • Serena Savini
00:00:00 00:19:52

Share Episode

Shownotes

Serena talks with Rita Ofili, the number 1 wheelchair model in Nigeria, about the importance of giving a voice to the voiceless, disability in Nigeria and in Africa, becoming a model and being intentional in building our own future.

You can find more information about Rita here:

Transcripts

Rita:

being a voice for the voiceless.

Rita:

And I believe the voice is what brought us here too.

Rita:

And we need to be our own trumpet blower.

Rita:

Whohoo.

Rita:

If you don't say it's, nobody will hear.

Rita:

If I don't say nobody will hear.

Rita:

If I don't come out, nobody will see me.

Rita:

If I haven't come.

Rita:

We pull it.

Rita:

See me?

Rita:

No, if I haven't come out, will you see me?

Rita:

No.

Rita:

So we need to be a trumpet blowout who I'm Rita.

Rita:

I am here, Rita exists

Serena:

Today, I'm talking with Rita Ofili The number one wheelchair model

Serena:

in Nigeria, Rita is also a disabled activist and the owner of a charity

Serena:

that is working on disability.

Serena:

We are going to discuss about the challenges of being a disabled person

Serena:

in Nigeria and in Africa, in general, the relationship between fashion and

Serena:

disability, the importance of being intentional in building your own future.

Serena:

And why love is so important.

Serena:

Thank you for being here and welcome Rita.

Rita:

My name is Rita Ofili.

Rita:

I am the first wheelchair model in Nigeria.

Rita:

I am an advocate for persons with disability and I am

Rita:

a disabled inclusion, a.

Rita:

Wherever I had been said, no, I said, I say, yes, we exist.

Rita:

We live.

Rita:

And we are human.

Rita:

We need to be embraced as a civil ability, need to be working.

Rita:

People with disability are living and we can add to the community.

Rita:

So over time I've gotten a lot of no, and it not became too

Rita:

much on me and being overwhelmed.

Rita:

I said, no, what is my assistance on resu face of the.

Rita:

If God wasn't want, he doesn't want me to leave.

Rita:

Then why creates me?

Rita:

But if he allows me with these orders and challenges and problems and

Rita:

pains, he would've taken my life.

Rita:

Then I rest with the law, but he catch me on this office of the earth.

Rita:

That means I have a lot.

Rita:

I have things to offer a to the face of the earth.

Rita:

It's not easy.

Rita:

Over time.

Rita:

I sunk.

Rita:

Praying reading meditating, asking the universe, what is my existence

Rita:

on this phase of the earth?

Rita:

And I had vividly avoid saying, look into yourself, look into the mind I

Rita:

am your God who has made you this far.

Rita:

I can't let you go.

Rita:

So I began to sink inside, began to meditate, and I knew very

Rita:

strong that I am beautiful.

Rita:

I'm a beautiful.

Rita:

So I said, okay, with this beauty I can work.

Rita:

I think I can be a mother, not just for myself, but for unborn children.

Rita:

For people who feel they're beautiful for people who say I'm the same,

Rita:

but how can I showcase myself?

Rita:

How would it work?

Rita:

See me, a person for disability can be a brand ambassador can be an influencer.

Rita:

So I took it upon myself to be a model going to different modeling

Rita:

industry in Nigeria about 10.

Rita:

And all of them said no to me.

Rita:

I said, wow, it's really true.

Rita:

That there's nothing for.

Rita:

And I went again, the 11th were said, oh, I haven't done

Rita:

this with my Modelling agency.

Rita:

I never knew disabled people who exist.

Rita:

I never knew they can do this.

Rita:

You are the first person, but, and you sound, they smart and intelligent.

Rita:

Let's work together.

Rita:

Let's work.

Rita:

God can do.

Rita:

And we started and this guy kept going this man COA creature, world agency, he

Rita:

kept going to different places to say, I have a model who's on a wheelchair.

Rita:

They exist, they can model and they buy products.

Rita:

Why can't we use them as a model?

Rita:

Ah, we can't see her shape.

Rita:

She can't cut work.

Rita:

She can't do this.

Rita:

She can't say no, not with Rita will on our wheelchair sit and will and she'll

Rita:

be able to sell your products and not just it, she is smart and intelligent.

Rita:

Did we get a yes, no.

Rita:

All we got was no, I said, okay.

Rita:

And I was in this very and American personnel one man came is into

Rita:

beautiful new fashion show.

Rita:

I'm coming to Nigeria, come and meet me in Orienta hotel us.

Rita:

You're a model.

Rita:

So we need to show you on our platform.

Rita:

And that was how I went.

Rita:

I took one other persons with disability, a guy, a boy, a man.

Rita:

Yeah.

Rita:

So when we got there,

Rita:

we did it and it was amazing.

Rita:

I said, wow, this is an international brand that came all the way from America

Rita:

saying inclusive inclusion exists.

Rita:

And these people live and I was happy and I started working

Rita:

with other charity organization.

Rita:

I kept ongoing.

Rita:

I said, oh, Rita, over the years, I've grown from age one.

Rita:

This age being B that's nine 40 approaching 41.

Rita:

. I have a story, childhood story, adult story, teenage story, love

Rita:

story rejection, AccessAbility, abandonment architectural barrier.

Rita:

I problem all.

Rita:

These are my life experience.

Rita:

Love life, love story.

Rita:

How make comes and say, oh, I would've loved to love you.

Rita:

Can you handle house choice?

Rita:

Can you cook?

Rita:

Do you have feeling.

Rita:

Can you have sexual acting?

Rita:

Can you consider the child?

Rita:

And I'm like, you're asking me if I'm a woman.

Rita:

Imagine somebody asking you, can you love, can you give, be,

Rita:

can you, do you have feelings?

Rita:

I said, you're asking you a woman.

Rita:

All these things I said, come on, is this what you wanna try?

Rita:

Or you want know?

Rita:

Or you are asking, if you say you love someone, it should be beyond

Rita:

these questions, but there it's an avenue for you to know me better.

Rita:

When you get to know, but not coming, telling me this, these are your fears.

Rita:

And sometimes there's this misconception.

Rita:

I love you.

Rita:

I love you.

Rita:

They don't love you.

Rita:

They just want sex.

Rita:

I love you.

Rita:

I love you.

Rita:

And they want to exploit to you.

Rita:

I love you.

Rita:

I love you.

Rita:

They want to collect the one you have.

Rita:

So there is no true love in there

Serena:

I'm curious about the fashion industry and the

Serena:

notion of inclusive fashion.

Serena:

I think we have still a long way to go.

Serena:

But what is your impression?

Serena:

Of that.

Rita:

I live in Nigeria.

Rita:

So I'll be using Nigeria as a case in Nigeria, the governments, the individuals

Rita:

private and organizations, first of all, they don't know how to go about it one.

Rita:

So they don't believe they.

Rita:

And three people with hasn't been willing to come out.

Rita:

Not because they can come out, but because there's nobody saying,

Rita:

oh, I see potentials in you.

Rita:

I see you can act.

Rita:

I see.

Rita:

As a lady, I see at some, I believe you can walk in the company.

Rita:

I believe without them not being discriminatory in Nigeria, we

Rita:

have implementation disability.

Rita:

Has it been implemented?

Rita:

No, they still abuse people with disability.

Rita:

They still take advantage of us.

Rita:

, they've not yet realized that persons with disability in Nigeria exists,

Serena:

and you said at the beginning that you are an activist, can

Serena:

you share your activist job right now, what you are trying to do?

, Rita:

what is an activist?

, Rita:

An activist is someone who helps or someone who helps to blow

, Rita:

the trumpets of another person, being a voice for the voiceless.

, Rita:

And as a person with disability, I took it upon myself to be an activist.

, Rita:

All these things I've done have shown that whether ever they say no, I

, Rita:

say, yes, we, as this, we can do it.

, Rita:

Everybody matters.

, Rita:

So over time, I've had a lot of.

, Rita:

No so as an activist, I go, I write letters to companies that said, I

, Rita:

want to come board with this, with my partners, with my NGO non-governmental

, Rita:

organization, we are saying we exist.

, Rita:

We have people that can work in your company or it organization.

, Rita:

And in modeling, in acting, we want a role, a story that has to be authentic.

, Rita:

If I tell a story of the persons with disability all over the world,

, Rita:

they will say, yes, that's true.

, Rita:

So let the story on be the ones telling their story.

, Rita:

So that is the work of an activist as a disabled activist in Nigeria.

, Rita:

These are the things that been doing and being a voice for the voiceless.

, Rita:

And I believe the voice is what brought us here too.

, Rita:

And we need to be our own trumpet blower.

, Rita:

Whohoo.

, Rita:

If you don't say it's, nobody will hear.

, Rita:

If I don't say nobody will hear.

, Rita:

If I don't come out, nobody will see me.

, Rita:

If I haven't come.

, Rita:

We pull it.

, Rita:

See me?

, Rita:

No, if I haven't come out, will you see me?

, Rita:

No.

, Rita:

So we need to be a trumpet blowout who I'm Rita.

, Rita:

I am here, Rita exists.

, Rita:

We want our voice to be heard and we go to the media.

, Rita:

Media join me net bloody trumpet, Woohoo

, Rita:

. I'm blowing my trumped.

, Rita:

We have 20 million plus people with disability in Nigeria.

, Rita:

So if my life has changed, I'm going to change 20 million people.

, Rita:

And if your life is changed, you are going to change 20 million people.

, Rita:

And they say some weird things to me, but how do I feel?

, Rita:

I just laugh.

, Rita:

I'm so patient, I will educate you.

, Rita:

And sometimes ill just ignore.

, Rita:

Sometimes I'll just, I.

, Rita:

I get emotional.

, Rita:

I feel so bad.

, Rita:

Why would this person ask me?

, Rita:

And so said, yeah, just a cripple who is going do this to

, Rita:

you, who is going to marry you?

, Rita:

They just a cripple.

, Rita:

You should be happy.

, Rita:

I'm associated with you and inside of me, but I'm human who

, Rita:

can communicate, who can relate.

, Rita:

Why address me in such awkward way, but then who am I?

, Rita:

Everybody has, these are her way of responding to life and I move.

, Rita:

My being happy is intentional because if I consider what people

, Rita:

tells me, what people have told me in this life, I wouldn't be here.

, Rita:

I wouldn't have met it.

, Rita:

I would've been six feet below dying or dealing with a God who made me and

, Rita:

rest my peace, but then I am leaving.

, Rita:

So I have been intentional peaceful with myself.

, Rita:

Know, in Africa, the way they talk to you in Africa.

, Rita:

Oh my goodness.

, Rita:

If you don't own yourself, you die a million times.

, Rita:

So be intentional own your happiness.

, Rita:

Be who you are, educate, who is ready to hear, and whoever

, Rita:

is not ready, just move on

Serena:

And I love the fact that if we are using our trumpet, Another

Serena:

person can hear the sound and can wake up or feel less alone.

Serena:

And it's something that we are doing right now because I'm in Italy.

Serena:

You are in Nigeria.

Serena:

We were put in contact by Punit.

Serena:

That is in India.

Serena:

And it's like that the trumpet that we are blowing is creating

Serena:

a beautiful concert altogether.

Rita:

Yes, that's.

Rita:

That's it.

Serena:

And I love the fact that you are saying that we can be intentional.

Serena:

Would you like to explore a little bit more?

Serena:

How can we be intentional every day in our life, especially

Serena:

when the world is against us?

Rita:

Yes.

Rita:

Oh, be intentional is saying.

Rita:

Where do you want to be?

Rita:

What do you want?

Rita:

How do you want it?

Rita:

Where do you want to be in the next 10 years?

Rita:

Five years, even if nobody's doing it, you could be the first

Rita:

person to event that in Nigeria.

Rita:

I don't believe that it not been hard that the persons with disabil

Rita:

is coming out to say I'm a model.

Rita:

So I was intentional in that aspect.

Rita:

I became an, I did in 2016, 17, 18, 19 20, 21, 22, about seven years, eight years.

Rita:

And I'm still doing it.

Rita:

That has been intentional.

Rita:

You have written your goals and oh, I want to, and you wake up in the morning.

Rita:

There are obstacles.

Rita:

There are challenges.

Rita:

There are pains.

Rita:

I said, no, I'm not seeing this pain.

Rita:

I'm not seeing these challenge.

Rita:

I'm going to be intention that this is what I want at the end of

Rita:

the day, I'm going achieve this.

Rita:

Intent like that.

Rita:

I want this is what I want.

Rita:

This is where I'm going.

Rita:

This is what I want.

Rita:

This is what I'm gonna do about it.

Rita:

And you do it.

Rita:

So that is an of being intentional forth.

Rita:

Accept in your innermost and said, this is me.

Rita:

This is what I want.

Rita:

This is where I want to go in the next two years, this, our global movements,

Rita:

we've opened doors all over the world.

Rita:

We are affecting America.

Rita:

We're affecting Africa, we're affecting Asia countries.

Rita:

We're affecting Europe Haven.

Rita:

Wouldn't we be intentional.

Rita:

We are,

Rita:

. You wrote me.

Rita:

You were intentional.

Rita:

Say, I'm going to have meeting with Rita.

Rita:

And now we are intentional together writing each other,

Rita:

saying, this is what we are doing.

Rita:

And we're intentional talking, exchanging experience.

Rita:

So whatever we need to do in life, we need to be intentional.

Rita:

You and I are here and people are saying, oh no, you can get a job.

Rita:

Oh, people this, oh, there's not this, that, and I'm intentionally,

Rita:

you are intentionally same weird.

Rita:

It's relieving.

Rita:

This is it.

Rita:

And all that.

Rita:

So this is an of being an, of being intentional in.

Rita:

Whatever you want to do.

Rita:

Yeah.

Serena:

And I'm sharing something personal here with you.

Serena:

I was born with a disability.

Serena:

They said to me, you are going to die when you, you are five, six years old

Serena:

and I'm still here and it's a beautiful

Rita:

LA.

Rita:

It's beautiful.

Rita:

That's what I said earlier when God said, yes, no man can say no.

Rita:

When the universe is you existing, not even the disability, not

Rita:

even the challenge of the pain that can stop you from living.

Rita:

I got my disability at age eight, I was sick, taken to the hospital,

Rita:

being injected on the wrong vein and that led to paralysis.

Rita:

And I'm not able to work till this moment.

Rita:

And some people in Nigeria in Africa, Nigeria, they'll tell you your

Rita:

child isn't able to work either.

Rita:

There are some forces.

Rita:

There are some evil, your parents has committed or something somewhere.

Rita:

This misconception culture, they'll say, oh, you did something.

Rita:

That's why your child is not able to walk.

Rita:

You did this.

Rita:

That's why you're able to walk.

Rita:

You're not living.

Rita:

Why don't you throw your child in the Bush?

Rita:

Why don't you just abandon your child?

Rita:

Why don't you use your child for rituals?

Rita:

And my mom said no, when God allowed this to happen, that means the

Rita:

universe is the beginning and the.

Rita:

And I'm here.

Rita:

They gave me the best care they not showed me.

Rita:

. And I

Serena:

think we are also full of love instead of full of hate.

Serena:

Would you like to share something about that?

Serena:

The importance of love?

Rita:

Oh, love is beautiful.

Rita:

Love is a beautiful thing.

Rita:

Love makes the world go around.

Rita:

It's an act of love that made you.

Rita:

Wanting it is an act of love that makes someone in India pun to calming.

Rita:

It's an act of love.

Rita:

So someone in another country connecting with me or you, it's an act of love.

Rita:

The love makes the world a beautiful place, and God is love himself.

Rita:

The creates all the owner of the universe.

Rita:

He still would love that he died for us, for our sin to be forgiven.

Rita:

And for us to leave, we love a lot of things will be done and

Rita:

humanity loving our humanity.

Rita:

A fellow human is the best thing that can happen to anybody

Rita:

on this surface of the earth.

Rita:

And I'm so glad that I own a charity organization and I'm where

Rita:

I can show love to people with the stability and to other person.

Rita:

So it's not even about disabled or not able it's about humanity.

Rita:

. Love is a continuous arts.

Serena:

Would you like to share something more about your charitable work?

Rita:

Oh, yes.

Rita:

My organization is called FTA hope foundation is on social media handle and

Rita:

we used to have a website and after a while the website expired, which I don't

Rita:

have money to renew it and all that.

Rita:

One of those talent, thank God for social media.

Rita:

At least it's there and all that.

Rita:

Yeah.

Rita:

My charity organization, we reference on people with disability, mostly.

Rita:

People on wheelchair for children, for male and female.

Rita:

Why did I choose that aspect?

Rita:

Because disability is white.

Rita:

We have the visual impaired, we have the milk, which is the death and the dump.

Rita:

We have summers.

Rita:

We have we have physical disability.

Rita:

We have there are some disability that is not obvious.

Rita:

We have celebrate P we have down syndrome.

Rita:

It's so broad.

Rita:

And I can't put my hand in all of them.

Rita:

So I chose the aspects where I'm professionalized, where I know how it

Rita:

is, where it is affecting me, where people like me, I can relate like

Rita:

mine, but that does not stop that.

Rita:

If we see somebody weak can help, that has the disabilities,

Rita:

that we cannot, we will do that.

Rita:

But this is our own motive.

Rita:

I said, this is where we start our standard point to say, our

Rita:

focus is on wheelchair people.

Rita:

If persons with disability on wheelchairs, and if you have the

Rita:

stability, physical disability, you can't walk, you can't do anything.

Rita:

We get to your wheelchair.

Rita:

We get employment.

Rita:

go seeking for a job and they get employed.

Rita:

Then we buy clothes.

Rita:

We take care of them.

Rita:

Once in a while we do a pack persons with disability.

Rita:

I've not been able to go for.

Rita:

And they're like, I don't have transport.

Rita:

Where would I go?

Rita:

So we organize our own party, get a hall, pay for it, get DJ, have food and drink.

Rita:

And they eat and you see this excitement like, wow.

Rita:

They party, like really, and sometimes I take them to a restaurant and we buy food.

Rita:

We are eating, we are talking.

Rita:

They like, ah, I've never gone to a restaurant or retire.

Rita:

It made it.

Rita:

All those things.

Rita:

Those testimonies makes me happy.

Rita:

It broadens my mind.

Rita:

And I'm happy to say because of me, they come out because of me, they're

Rita:

happy because of me, they're excited.

Rita:

That's really amazing when you are working and you have a structure

Rita:

of avenue where you can give back to people, which is my NGO

Rita:

. . Serena: Would you like to share

Rita:

your journey, your personal journey?

Rita:

Yes, to my listeners.

Rita:

I really appreciate you for taking out time to come to this podcast.

Rita:

She's a very beautiful soy.

Rita:

I'm an amazing person to talk, which is so sweet and peaceful because all those

Rita:

energy got into me and I was able to blow more and she allowed me to own the ground.

Rita:

She allowed me to be made dear listeners.

Rita:

I'm a Nigerian and my name is Rita Oly.

Rita:

I hope.

Rita:

And I believe.

Rita:

My story is authentic enough for you to support me.

Rita:

I need support financial support to have a well structured environment

Rita:

and accessibility, the transport system, the accommodation, everything

Rita:

that will enable me to live life in a very beautiful way that God has made

Rita:

me and to carry other people in my community and to extend my hands to.

Rita:

With disability.

Rita:

I do counseling for able person.

Rita:

Some able people have children with disability, some married

Rita:

people with disabilities, some adopt, some have children.

Rita:

So I also rank that counseling for people with disability and able person knowing

Rita:

how to manage people with disability.

Rita:

. Thank you so much.

Rita:

And I do appreciate it.

Rita:

One love keep us together.

Rita:

Let's keep moving the global movement.

Rita:

Thank you once again.

Rita:

And I'm grateful to point it from India.

Serena:

Oh, so beautiful Aita.

Serena:

Thank you.

Serena:

Thank you so much.

Serena:

. You need to and teach me to be more intentional in my happiness for sure.

Rita:

Thank you, Rita.

Rita:

Thank you.

Rita:

Bye.

Rita:

Thank you.

Rita:

Love you.

Rita:

Love you.

Serena:

Thank you so much, Rita for being here.

Serena:

If you want to know more information on how to support Rita.

Serena:

You can go in the description or on the website pod link slash welcome.

Serena:

Please share this conversation with friends that needs to

Serena:

hear these meaningful words from Rita and see you next time

Links