“I feel very guilty that my father died because of me. Daddy died when he heard that a machine cut my fingers. He warned me to quit the job but I failed to listen…. now he is no more.”
That is the regret of an 18 year old Julius Larbi Bortey who lost his fingers after a machine chopped them off three months ago. The sore on his hands are healed but the scars remain; and it could be there forever. Living above the emotional scar is something Julius is struggling to deal with.
He had already completed Junior High School and was waiting to enter Senior High School.
Julius’s father, Nelson Larbi Borlabi was a simple clearing agent at the Tema Port and was not earning much so the son decided to find a job to help his father fund his education.
Julius said though his father insisted that he stayed at home, he refused to listen. He went ahead to look for a job at a roofing sheet manufacturing company at Tema called B5.
The beginning of Julius’ end.
“I was excited that I landed a cool job at B5. My duty was simple; I was assigned to count roofing sheets for parking. I did the job without any protective clothing but I was excited that at least I would get some money so I did not even care” He said.
Julius had been working there for just three days when his father found out and was so angry he ordered him to quit.
“I agreed but I could not just quit like that so I decided to go for my three day wage …..”
At this point Julius almost chokes on emotion, almost in tears and with hesitation he swallowed the pain, regret and continued the story.
“A roofing sheet stuck in the machine and I was asked by my supervisor who is an Indian to remove the sheet. Though I did not know how to remove it, I risked it and the machine cut off my fingers….” He said.
Julius said the pain was "un-describable" and he woke up several hours in great pain at the Korle Bu Teaching hospital with his relatives gathered around him.
His father was not there. Julius said he thought his father was still angry at him. But he was discharged home only to be told that this father had died.
“I was shocked… and instantly I told myself that I had killed my father…. I just couldn't believe it till he was buried” He added.
Julius now has to live with that pain the rest of his life, the guilt of contributing to his father’s demise.
The future looks bleak.
Julius now has no fingers. To cover his amputated fingers he now wears dark gloves and always has his hands in his pockets. He cannot do most things by himself. He cannot bath, or hold anything.
“My relatives would have to clean me even after I visit the toilet… it is humiliating but I am grateful to my family” He cried.
Julius is now worried about continuing school. He wants to be an engineer but with no fingers it looks almost impossible. He feels idle and cannot mingle with friends because of the stigma and name calling.
“My company has not even visited me after the accident… They just don’t care….” He said.
Julius’ uncle Michael Borlabi said B5 Company paid all expenses but have now neglected Julius.
He said Julius still requires follow up treatement at the hospital but the family takes care of the bills.
“ I have been calling the company but they have refused to listen to my plea to help the boy” he said.
Employment contractor for B5 Agartha Mangudu confirmed the disaster to joynews on phone and said the company needs a doctor’s report stating the boy’s full condition before compensating Julius.
“The boy’s uncle has failed to bring the doctors report so we will wait till the report comes before we compensate Julius” He said.
Julius is now appealing for prosthetic fingers so he can live a new life again.