For many years, a 60-year-old farmer with visual impairment, Lawrence Demebu vowed never to beg to survive.
With the support of a white cane, he walks for over 30 minutes in Liati, a town in the Afadjato South District of the Volta Region, carefully navigating his farm daily to work long hours in order to put food on his table and many other families.
“Nothing beats hard work,” he smiles, as he continues to expertly stake yams in his farm so that they crawl around sticks to elevate and grow better.
He clears some weeds on his farm and begins planting maize. To aid him plant in a straight line, he sticks a rope to the ground and plants along.
However, he does not always reap from his sweat as unscrupulous people steal from him. “During harvest seasons, people steal from me. They follow me and then collect the yams I harvest. I never find them.
They steal from me on the farm and at home”, he stressed. With no relative close to him, Lawrence gets help from his local church to sell his produce. He has been longing for a partner to support him to be successful, but that has been difficult.
“My friends tried to find me a wife but unfortunately the women always stayed with me for a short time. They feel ashamed of me. I am not lazy. I need companionship to be successful. Those days I could provide for them but they left me,” he said.
Lawrence’s inability to find a wife and start a family leaves him worried about his old age. At 60 years, his biggest fear is who will take care of him when he is old and frail. “I cook, wash, clean and also fetch water for myself, but who will take care of me when I am old.”
For over 30 years, all he has to show for his hard work is a weak mud house. Although Lawrence has vowed never to beg, he is now appealing to kind-hearted people to help him build a decent small retirement house.
“I am not rich; I don’t have a decent place to sleep. I don’t like begging but I plead with you to help me build a good house. When it rains I really suffer”, he said.
2017 was a good year for him. The Afadjato South District awarded him the “Best Disability” farmer. His prize was a pair of wellington boots, two cutlasses, a knapsack sprayer, a fridge and a radio set. He also received GH¢800 to support his farming.
But Lawrence said although he appreciates the money given to him, it was not enough to expand his farm. “I really wanted to build at that time but I could not save enough to build. I am running out of time”, he said.
Lawrence yearns for a small decent house where he can safely and comfortably retire but he doubts he can pool resources to do that.
Inside his mud house, is a small mattress made with sack filled with straw. The upper part of the room wall has developed a crack which could collapse anytime.
To any philanthropist out there, Lawrence is pleading for a decent retirement house.