General News of Monday, 5 November 2018
Source: Charles Akwei
Retirement from active services is something most people see in the distant future but for Mohammed Zakaria, this was not the case.
Zakaria’s working life had to end at a prime age, 25. Mohammed Zakaria is now 33-years-old.
At age 22, Mohammed was employed by Integrated Tamale Fruit Company (ITFC), a company that cultivates certified organic mangoes for both local and export markets, as an irrigation assistant.
He worked hard as any level-headed young man who is poised to make it in life would do but unfortunately for him,he started experiencing decreases in his vision.
He re-encountered how difficult work became for him due to the blurred vision. He later learnt that what he was experiencing was cataract.
His bilateral cataract eventually led to blindness after three and half years of work at ITFC.
Cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye which leads to a decrease in vision.
The company and his loved ones tried their best to help reverse the condition but to no avail.
At age 25, Mohammed was completely blind and his life as an irrigation assistant had come to an end.
ITFC, the company he worked with, gave him a severance package and medical support. But the stack reality was that he was going to live the rest of his life without any source of income if he is unable to learn any new trade. After trying alternative medicines for about two years, Mohammed had to give up and accept his new state – blind.
Soon, he was faced with dire financial challenges. His source of livelihood has been cut off and the whole world became dark around him.
In a video that is circulating on social media, the young man narrated that during his working life, he made 42 months of contributions to the Social Security and National Insurance Trust Scheme. He said he remembered what he had read in a SSNIT brochure that was given to them at the point of registration. He therefore contacted his former employer, ITFC to put in an application for Invalidity Pension.
At age 28, Mohammed started receiving monthly pension. According to him, he has been receiving pension with annual increments for the past six years.
“My monthly payment has never ceased since I started receiving the pension. I know SSNIT is obliged to pay me for the rest of my life”, he said.
He spoke of how the invalidity benefit has brought relief to him and enhanced his leaving conditions.
The young pensioner got married to Adisah Issah in 2015 and they are blessed with a two-year-old son. He indicated how proud he was as a responsible husband and father.
According to him, his monthly pension gives him hope to of giving his child a bright future.
Mohammed is but one of numerous people who have been rendered blind (invalid) by cataract. Cataract is said to be the leading cause of blindness in Ghana accounting for 54.8 per cent of all blind cases. With over 100,000 recorded cases, only a few qualify to receive pension because most people do not contribute to the social security scheme.
Mohammed Zakaria is only one of the over 1,500 invalid pensioners.
About Zakaria and his family
Zakaria lives in Pong-Tamale, a community in the Savelugu-Nanton District in the Northern Region of Ghana, about 20 minutes’ drive from the Tamale Airport.
It is a populated community with nucleated settlements. People in this community are predominantly farmers. He resides in the local chief’s palace near the old market.