My First Outing in Eleven Years – Ibemere Zion Chichetam

Zion is looking at the camera and smiling. He is with two young men.
Zion is smiling while sitting in his wheelchair at the mall.

Few days ago I was able to go out to the shopping mall to look around to see the beauty of life again. It was first experience in going out to shopping mall for over eleven years since my accident which has left me shut out of society alone in my room.

It hasn’t been easy for me to be indoors for the past eleven years. After all this time, by the grace of God I was able to go out. My friend, Robert, picked me up. We travelled by car to the ShopRite mall in Owerri. I used a wheelchair that had been recently donated to me to get around.

This was a very great experience for me. I have not spent such a time with other people for eleven years. During this time, I have felt rejected and outcast by society. I was very excited to go to the shopping mall. It was a very nice place for me to see. I was very happy just to look around  and take pictures.  It was so nice to meet with people, to see people, and have people looking and smiling back at me.

These many years being indoors has taken a lot from me. It has been a very terrible situation for me to endure.

In the shopping mall, I was so happy to move around. Robert helped to get around. I got excited and got wheeled into a boutique. I pretended as if I wanted to buy clothes. I wanted to look at how beautiful the place was. I took pictures when I was about to leave the boutique. The owner discovered that today was my first time to come to the mall. He was glad to see how happy I was. Then he gave me a very expensive Turkey t-shirt. I told him I didn’t have the money to buy the T-shirt. He said that I should take it for free and that he wanted me to be happy. The more I think about it, it feels like a dream. It was just like a new life that I never knew existed. I felt so good that I even ate in the mall and it was wonderful.

From time to time, I would like to experience living in society again, to socialize, to go out to the shopping mall, or to other places.  I like interacting with people, seeing cars and other fine things out there. I believe that getting a power wheelchair would enable me to be active again. It would allow me to go to more places.

I believe that with good people around me, there will be a positive change in my life. I will have the opportunity to experience fresh air with their help since I can’t wheel my wheelchair alone.

My trip to the shopping mall was so amazing for me. To see the world after eleven years of being indoors made me so happy. I was so excited that I can’t even explain how good and happy I felt.  Everytime I think about it, I feel wonderful.

|Zion is lying in his bed. Emmanuel is sitting next to him in his wheelchair.

The goal of the Dubel Foundation is not just to provide desperately needed aid to people with spinal cord injury. It is to also to lead by example and encourage other people to get involved in integrating people with SCI back into society. Thus, enabling them to live happier and more productive lives.