An Interview With Grace Okhimhe, a NEUROFIBROMATOSIS Victim that Was Discriminated for A Job

An Interview With Grace Okhimhe, a NEUROFIBROMATOSIS Victim that Was Discriminated for A Job

Discrimination of any kind should never have a place in the work environment. Infact, there should be punishment for any company found in such an act.

I was surfing the internet on Friday when I came across a post that shared the story of a young lady. I was deeply moved by the story and decided to look for her through the Instagram handle that was included in the post.

Luckily, I found her and exchanged contact. I had a long conversation with her. She shared the whole story.

  • Why was she discriminated against?
  • How did she handle the scenario?
  • What can we do to eradicate discrimination of any kind in the work environment?

Kindly sit back and enjoy the interview series with my guest, Grace.

Can you introduce yourself to the audience?
My name is Grace Okhimhe. A graduate of Auchi Polytechnic Auchi, Edo state.

It is nice to have you here. Can you elaborate more on yourself?
I attended command secondary School, Lagos. I served in Katsina state in the year 2017.

What year did you graduate from Auchi Polytechnic, Auchi?
I graduated in 2016.

I saw your video about being discriminated against in a work environment that went viral on Instagram, a friend of mine shared with me and said, ”Chinedu, you need to interview this lady.” Would you love to share more about the incident?

Yes, I will.

Like I said, I was waiting alongside with others for an interview to kick off. I felt like I needed to use the restroom, so I told the girl sitting beside me. She pointed to a place inside and asked me to tell them over there.

I went in and told the receptionist. He asked me to document my name and go in to inform the security in charge of the place, which I humbly complied with.

So after writing my name, I went in. I met a lady and a man. The man was sitting on the couch. I greeted him.

Then the receptionist there asked, ”how may I help you?” I told her that I want to ease myself and she showed me the toilet. After that, I went outside to carry my bag. By then, others were already inside, writing their names.

Then there was a man that passed by and was staring at me. I believed he works there because he had free access to the offices. So when I noticed that he was staring at me, I decided to turn my face elsewhere because I feel uncomfortable when someone stares at me for a long time.

Then some set of people were asked to go inside which I was among. I was standing in front of the receptionist when I heard her say – ”You may leave! We will get back to you.”

When she made that statement, I wanted to be sure of what I heard, so I asked if she was referring to me. But she said nothing.
Then we were asked to go out because the room was congested.

Not quite long, the security man walked up to me and said he was asked to tell me to hand over my CV to him and I should leave. He said that they would get back to me and I was like, ”why are you asking me to give you my CV? I am also here for the interview, why am I the only one been asked to leave?”

But he said that was the instruction. I requested to speak to the person that sent him to me but he refused. He insisted that I dropped my CV or leave if I don’t want to, it is my choice.

I told him I know why they asked me to leave. But I tried as much as possible not to cry. Although I still cried, I handed over my CV to him and turned back to leave. But as I was about to leave, I heard a man asking the security if I dropped my CV, and he nodded – yes.

Then I told the security again, ”I know why you guys are asking me to leave. Out of everyone here, why am I the only one that was ordered to  leave?”

I did not quarrel with anyone nor did I misbehave, why was I treated in such manner?
What were their reasons for sending me out?
Even if I did not fit in to their job, at least they would have interviewed me. I had two interviews that day. So, I just went to the other place crying like a baby. I was so destabilized.

The lady beside me noticed I was crying and she asked if I was okay. But what would I have told her? I just said yes.

I am deeply sorry to hear this happened to you, Grace. Don’t you think companies like that should be named and shamed for the lack of professionalism?
Chinedu, honestly, I don’t think so. Two wrongs don’t make a right. But what they did to me was wrong.

A friend sent me a memo they uploaded on Instagram after they saw my video that went viral, and I decided to visit their Instagram page.

To my great surprise, I saw a comment that says – ”The fact that I was not selected is not a reason for me to be pessimistic.”

Can you imagine?

I was not even given the chance to be interviewed, let alone to be selected.

That is simply unacceptable. They are not professionals. Why did they discriminate against you?
That is the question I keep on asking myself and I think I need an answer from them. What if I had travelled from a far distance for that interview?

That was pathetic. Your video on Instagram talked about the condition of your skin. Can you explain better and how it happened, please?
That condition is called NEUROFIBROMATOSIS or NF.

It is a genetic disorder that causes tumours to grow on the skin. These tumours are not in any way contagious.

It just a genetic disorder that affects the nerve cells and causes tumours to form and grow.

What year did this start?
I have known myself like this and I am 28 now.

How did you cope with it in school?
I don’t really know how I was able to scale through, but I made sure I was well informed about NF. So as to answer any questions when being asked about it. It was not really easy.

I can imagine. Was there any experience of a student not wanting to sit beside you in class?
I always sit beside my friends. But I am always on sleeves. 95 percent of my clothes are sleeves.

But I have had several experiences in the past. One among all was in my ND 2. There was this girl in my group for our final year project, she was always misbehaving and I tried to caution her to be at peace with people so we won’t fail the project.

The next thing she said was, ”if everyone else is talking to me, it should never be you. Someone who can’t take proper care of herself.”

I was like, Jesus!

Did she just say that to me?
I wouldn’t blame her because that was caused by a lack of awareness.

Recently a friend of mine said she had to unfriend one of her friends because he literally body-shamed me.

She said she uploaded a picture both of us snapped on her whatsapp status and the guy commented, ”why do I look that way?”

She tried defending me but he never agreed and she had to block him. That’s still lack of awareness.

That’s interesting!
In secondary school, a staff once asked me what the tumors were. Then I did not know what they were.

I told her I had no idea. She responded harshly, ”it is because your parents did not take good
care of you.”

I can keep telling different stories. What we need is awareness. So someone else don’t have to go through ill-treatment. Don’t be surprised at the number of NF victims you will see when awareness starts.

I definitely agree with you on this. With regards to getting a job, what did you study?
I studied Science Laboratory Technology (Microbiology option).

What did you graduate with?
I graduated with a Distinction.

You are indeed a genius. What role are you looking for in the labour market?
A firm where I will be able to add value to and also learn new skills.

You need to identify the roles you can fill in any of these organisations. Can you be more specific?

I don’t really have any in my mind right now.

What you are currently into?
I help my mom at her shop. She sells baby things

What would you like the government, or people from the private sector, to do for you?
Create possible awareness of  NEUROFIBROMATOSIS. People seem to know little or nothing about it.

For any of our audience that may want to reach out to you, how can you be contacted?
Through my email or social media pages.

Would you mind sharing your contact details?
Email – [email protected]

Instagram handle – www.instagram.com/mz_gracie_special

Thank you, Grace, for your time. I do hope you get your heart desire as soon as possible.
Amen. Thank you, Chinedu, for reaching out to me.

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