Friday, May 20, 2016

God prepared me for this

I will not consider my first attachment to the then Accra Daily Mail as a coincidence, I now believe that God was preparing me for today/now

The news paper which was managed by Alhaji Haruna Atta and his wife Nana Yaa Agyemang, apart from giving me my first experience in journalism also taught me a life lesson that has kept going.

Nana Yaa (mum) as we affectionately called her use to edit our stories, she will walk to the newsroom holding the tables and chairs, but I did not for a moment think that there was something wrong with her.

She edited so well and corrected me when I had not been my best. On my last day of my attachment, I remember Nana Yaa advising me about life and she told me “You remind us of our daughter Aisha”.

Little did I know that Mum had an autoimmune disease that makes her disabled. I later heard this story when she was on TV one time to talk about autoimmune diseases.

Fast forward, I moved on, got permanently employed with the Ghana News Agency and I really enjoy journalism though it does not pay much.

From time to time, Mum (Nana Yaa) will call me and tell me to cover something for her. It was her organization ShareCare4U ( an organization for people with autoimmune diseases.

One day Mum called me to visit the Disability Assessment centre and do a story on their dilapidated building which was not disability friendly, well, I did that and the centre was rehabilitated.

It was during the coverage of the opening of a centre for children with Cerebral Palsy that I met Farida Bewdei for the first time. I remember Farida read a speech, I was sitting at the back and it wasn’t so clear so when the programme was over, I went to get a copy but I did not speak to her.

I have covered ShareCare for a long time and I still enjoy covering that organization’s activities.

Mum, inspired me a lot, I did not know that God was preparing for me something.

I developed some very soft spot for people with challenges, especially those related to disability. I even celebrated my 29th birthday with the Dzorwulu Special School, little did I know that God was preparing me for the Special Mothers Project (

I was to give birth to a very special girl (Eyram) and today I advocate fully for children with Cerebral Palsy. ( I am smiling broadly)

It has not been an easy journey, there are times I still say, “Aaah God so of all things to advocate for, why Cerebral palsy” but you cannot imagine the joy and fulfillment when I am able to touch the life of a mother and child with cerebral palsy who otherwise lived without hope.

Along the line, way before I thought of marriage and child birth, I got trained in advocacy, I trained in the Netherlands, in the United States and Geneva via short training programmes for journalists, I did not know that God was preparing me for this

The title of my book “The Unexpected” will be launched soon, says it all. I had always pray for God’s will to be done in my life and I thoroughly believe that I am living according to God’s will.

If you ask what my inspiration is, I can only point you to the Joseph story in the bible.

I refuse to blame anything in my life on demons, witches etc, No, Never, they have no control over me. Everything that has happened in my life is to bring God's purpose for my life into fulfillment.

There are those who engage in self-pity and go around soliciting for funds to take care of themselves because they have a child with CP, I pray for them that God’s help them. There are those who exploit families with CP children.

Some pastors demand money from them to pray and heal their children, some health professionals charge exorbitantly for very little services rendered.

My wish is that these parents will not become desperate to fall for all these exploitation 

I now fully understand the scripture which says that, “…All the days ordained for me, not one of them came to being, without it being written in your book” Psalm 139v16.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Children with CP need to be supported – Special Educator

Hannah Awadzi

 Mrs Trudy Segbefia, Special Education Coordinator in the Akuapem North Municipal Office, has reiterated the need for special needs teachers in normal schools to support children with Cerebral Palsy (CP).

She said: “We have special schools for all disability groups but none for children with CP, we have schools for the blind, deaf and the intellectually challenged,” and strongly called for special needs teachers in mainstream schools to help such children.

Mrs Segbefia was speaking at a CP parents’ support group meeting, in Accra.

Many of the parents of CP children said even though their CP offspring are intelligent, they are not able to send them to school because of the lack of support for them in normal educational facilities.

Mrs Segbefia said the best way to help educate children with CP is to let them go through normal schools with special educators to support them.

She explained that some children with CP have very severe cases and those ones could have special education.

She called for medical and educational assessment of CP children to know whether they are eligible for normal school or special school

A Ghanaian CP parent based in the United Kingdom who shared some experiences via a whatsapp platform said children in the UK normally start nursery at the age of three and those with special needs have to go through mainstream school.

He said: “In the UK it is only when your special needs child cannot cope with the mainstream education, then an assessment is done to know whether they qualified for special needs school.”

He however said special education in the UK is a more comfortable option for parents with special needs, since children in the special needs school get all the required services for free.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Children with disabilities to benefit from mobility devices

 Mr Benjamin Amewornu, an industrial designer, passionate about independent mobility of children and youth with disabilities in Ghana, has started a project to manufacture mobility devices to support them.

Mafanam Foundation a non-profit organisation registered in Ghana in 2016 does not only give-out mobility devices but ensures that they are designed for appropriate fitting, proper seating, postural support and environmental friendly.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Mr Amewornu said the mobility devices are manufactured locally in Ghana which gives the technicians working on the products the technical know-how on the importance of appropriate mobility devices.

“Our mobility devices are appropriate for these children to use at school makes them mobile to able to participate in school activities and reducing unwanted movement patterns and tone helping to reduce deformities,” he added

Mr Amewornu said a research done by his organisation revealed that about 99 per cent of children and youth with disabilities have become only the responsibility of their families especially mothers and grandmothers, hence the need for mobility devices to reduce the burden on caregivers.

“Having access to a range of adjustable paediatric wheelchairs, which provides the best adjustable posture support, ensures that the child can benefit from the best possible physical function and if correctly fitted and reviewed the device will delay and prevent the development of secondary health complications,” he said.

Mr Amewornu who has worked on a number of such projects abroad said: “Working with the therapists in the communities there in South Africa raises a lot of concern whether the therapists in Ghana do have sufficient knowledge about wheelchair seating and 24 hours positioning options.”

He said there is the urgent need for a policy to support seating as a major road block to children and youth with disabilities, especially those with cerebral palsy in Ghana and Africa as whole.

He revealed that his organisation is now collaborating with the Special Mothers Project, a body that advocates and educates about cerebral palsy (CP) to create awareness and inform Ghanaians about childhood disability and the need for support.

Mrs Hannah Awadzi, Initiator of the project, who expressed happiness about the collaboration, said there is the need for parental involvement of the management of children with CP.

She said health professionals need to dialogue and communicate with parents on CP management for best results.

“I hope that we can work together to advocate favourable policies for children with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy does not only affect the child, it affects the parents, it affects the entire family and it affects the nation as a whole,” she added.