Lives in Mafokoya village, Yoni Mabanta Chiefdom, in the Northern District of Tonkolili, Alusine Turay (AKA Tunkoh or Carl Box) is the man who made many believe in the saying “Disability Is Not An Inability”.
Indeed, disability is not inability. One can be disabled but is able. My friend here has proven that.
Though physically deformed, Turay still contributes to the development of his community and society at large. He’s a blacksmith and knows his work well. He not only focused on his work but was also determined to work for his people in the Yoni Mabanta chiefdom.
He can not walk by himself but people come from far away neighbouring villages and chiefdoms to visit his workshop. Almost all of the farmers around depend on him – he makes their hoes, cutlasses and all other farming tools.
We became friends when I was a Community teacher in Roruks, a strategic town in Yoni Chiefdom, and just some kilometres off Turay’s village. I do visit him during lunch hours and after school.
We had a deep conversation about his trade when we sat together to drink palm wine in the evening. He does tell me how learning the trade has impacted him and his community. Though he can’t walk and do many other things for himself, he told me he lives a life of himself and does not depend on anyone.
” I’m not happy with this condition but I’m happy I’m not begging anyone because I have a trade. At least, I’m self-reliant,” Turay used to tell me.
According to Turay, his work is being challenged by the non-availability of tools. Over the years, he said, he manages to buy some of the equipment or tools he used to do his work but the growing economic hardship in the country has affected him adversely.
“I’m always pleased if people with a humanitarian feeling would come to my aid because having all equipment will help ease some of the challenges I do face day in and day out,” he said.
Throughout my stay in the community, he wasn’t married and does not have a child. But the hero is always happy and determined to serve his community. Despite his disability, he also attends nightclubs and engages in so many social activities.
For me, one can be happy without money, and one can serve regardless of his status. My friend is a hero and I will forever proud of him.
At the time many young people in Sierra Leone choose to pleasure themselves and thus blame the country’s political leadership for their predicament, Turay, a physically deformed man is positively contributing to the socio and economic development of his community.
As the country goes to the pool in less than three months, the political leadership of Sierra Leone begins to prioritise people of this character.