Thursday, August 30, 2018

Stakeholders discuss Inclusive Education

 Stakeholders in the various Disabled Persons Organizations (DPOs) on Wednesday discussed Ghana’s inclusive education policy calling on district assemblies to mainstream inclusion in their budget

Mrs Florence Ayisi Quartey, Acting Director of the Department of Children, under the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection said the various district assemblies need to include in their budget line monies that will be used to achieve inclusive education within the schools in their district assemblies

Some Participants made observations that suggested that the inclusive education policy was mainly donor driven without much commitment from the government and pointed out the need for government to own Ghana’s Inclusive education policy.

The discussions were held as part of the celebration of the 2018 National Children’s Day on the theme: “Leave no child behind for Ghana’s development: The rights of children with disabilities.”

Mrs Quartey also said in response to a comment to ensure inclusion at the crèche level, that the department of children will look into the guidelines for setting up of early childhood development centres to ensure inclusion at that level.

Dr Obeng Asamoah, Executive Director of the Ghana Blind Union, speaking on the Implications of the Inclusive Education Policy on Children with Disabilities said Inclusive education helps children with disabilities to have better aspirations in life.

“If you put all children with one disability together, their level of thinking and their self-esteem is affected, having children with disabilities and those without disabilities together tend to help children with disabilities to aspire to greater heights as their counterparts.”

Dr Asamoah said the implementation of the inclusive education policy in Ghana will also provide an opportunity for children with special needs to be educated in their own communities; they don’t have to travel to a special school somewhere.

Mrs Gifty Twum-Ampofo, Deputy Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection said there is the dire need for intervention that guarantee the survival, protection and development of children with disabilities.

She said as a country the rights of children with disabilities to access quality education are recognized, however, the situation on the ground shows that children with disabilities remain the most excluded from accessing education and its benefits.

“It is rather unfortunate  that in most countries including Ghana, education for children with disabilities have created separate schools called “Special Schools” that provides for a small number of children…this does not help the children to integrate fully in society…”

Mrs Twum-Ampofo advised that people should shift in the way they treat disabilities, saying, “Instead of disability being viewed as a shortcoming on the part of the individual, the focus has now moved to the environment and society as well as the lack of consideration for human differences.”

Madam Amina Achiaa, Director of the Special Education Division of the Ghana Education Service took participants through the Inclusive Education Policy, pledging the GES commitment towards inclusive education in Ghana

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

"We are starving" – Mother of Child with cerebral palsy cries

Ms Suzzie Darko, Mother of a six year old child with cerebral palsy is calling for help from government or corporate organizations to prevent her from extreme starvation.

Ms Darko holds a bachelor’s degree but says she is unable to work because of her two children one with cerebral palsy and a one year old breastfeeding child.

Narrating her story she said the father of the children has abandoned me and my own family has also neglected me because of my child with cerebral palsy.

“My own mother threw me out of the house saying she cannot eat at the sight of my child with cerebral palsy, that I should throw the child away before I come back to her,” she said

Ms Darko said I have attempted suicide on two occasions, the first time I swallowed a quantity of powdered bleach but I did not die. The second time, I took about 50 tablets of amoxicillin (an antibiotic) locked my child with cerebral palsy in a suitcase, wrote a suicide note and waited to die but shortly afterwards my younger brother came and took me to the hospital, nothing happened to me.

The 30 year old nursing mother said: “We are starving” there are times, we have nothing to eat and when my children start to cry due to hunger all kind of thoughts go through my mind.

She said she wants to take her child with cerebral palsy to school but does not know where to start given that she has no money to even pay for school fees.

“I have applied for the District Assembly Common Fund for persons with disabilities on behalf of my daughter but I am yet to hear from them, we are starving...”

Ms Darko said she once left her daughter in the care of someone and travelled to another town to work and earn a living but just three weeks into time, I was called that my daughter’s leg was swollen.

“When I went back to see her, nobody could tell me exactly what had happened to her but doctors told me her knees have been badly fractured, they performed series of surgical operations on her but to no avail now, this child who was attempting to walk now  has one leg badly contractured,” she said amidst tears

“I have been exploited by many people, herbalists, spiritualists, pastors and some medical personnel; I have spent all my money seeking her for my child, now I have no money and no job”

Ms Darko said I have sold many of my personal belongings, “just recently I attempted to sell two more cloths that I have but nobody was ready to buy”.

She said the only thing that is keeping her alive is her daughter with cerebral palsy, “Blessing, is the one inspiring me to live now, anytime I think about taking my life, I also think about what will happen to her if I am no longer there to support her.”

She said: “I want to engage in some trading activities to enable me have time to take care of my daughter with cerebral palsy and her brother but where do I get the start up capital.”

Ms Darko called on corporate Ghana to help save her from extreme starvation.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Government urged to show more commitment towards children with disabilities

Mrs Eugenia Tevie, Mother of a child with cerebral palsy has called on government to show more commitment towards children with disabilities.

She said: “If government could focus on developing the abilities of children with disabilities, the country will be a much better place to live.”

Mrs Tevie expressed her sentiments when Heartbeat Foundation, a Christian worship group, donated items worth 2500 cedis and 500 cedis cash to the Special Mothers Project, an advocacy and awareness creation programme on cerebral palsy to support their work

The items donated included: bags of rice, various kinds of detergents, Nestle products, baby diapers and wipes, boxes of sugar and milk.

Mrs Tevie also called on health institutions and educational facilities to be open to learn more about cerebral palsy as a condition from parents, saying, many parents handle their children on a daily basis for long hours and thus gain a lot of knowledge about the children.

“We cannot use a one cap fits all approach in managing children with cerebral palsy,” she said.

Reverend Denzel Agyemang Prempeh, Leader of Heart Beat Music and Foundation who presented the items said “the time is past when we use to think that cerebral palsy was a devilish disease or a curse”

He said knowledge on the condition was on the increase and it was important that society embraced children with cerebral palsy and accept them, “Children with cerebral palsy are God’s creation.”

Rev. Prempeh pledged his continuous support towards cerebral palsy advocacy in Ghana.

Mrs Hannah Awadzi, Executive Director of the Special Mothers Project, expressing gratitude to the group said the project aimed at enhancing the lives of families raising children with cerebral palsy in Ghana.

“We are advocating among other things facilitating the creation of support services and systems and thus enhancing the lives of families raising children with cerebral palsy.”

Mrs Awadzi said: Let’s all learn to extend love and support to families raising children with cerebral Palsy.”

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Adapt locally available materials to therapy equipments – Dr Tannor advises

Dr Abena Tannor, a Physical Rehabilitation Specialist at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital has advised parents of children with cerebral palsy to adapt locally available materials to therapy tools for use by their children at home

She said: “You can adapt the plastic basin as seating equipment for your child to sit in by cutting some part of the basin and stuffing it with ordinary blanket or wrap the handle of a spoon with bandage to make it bulky enough for your child to use.”

Dr Tannor gave the advice when the Special Mothers Project, an advocacy and awareness creation programme on cerebral palsy hosted her at their quarterly meetings.

She gave practical advice and showed pictures of locally available materials that could be adapted and use as therapy tools in the home.

She also advised the parents on best health practices, healthy nutrition and the need to advocate for inclusive education for especially children with cerebral palsy.

Dr Tannor who is Ghana’s only physical rehabilitation specialist also called for government’s support in terms of training more rehabilitation specialists to assist parents of children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities.

She advised parents to be proactive and become effective advocates of their children by learning about the condition to enable them educate others and create more awareness.

Mrs Hannah Awadzi, Executive Director of the Special Mothers Project urged parents to empower themselves to be in a better position to manage their children.

She said the Special Mothers Project hopes to facilitate the creation of a network of support systems and services to make it easier for parents to access services and enhance the lives of families raising children with cerebral palsy

Mr Samuel Wiafe a Psychologist and Founder of Rare Disease Ghana spoke to the parents on the need to live beyond their children’s diagnosis.

He said it is important that parents of children with cerebral palsy live beyond their children’s diagnosis by ensuring that they balance their emotional life.

“All over the world parents of children with rare disease have become experts in managing their children’s condition and parents of children with cerebral palsy in Ghana can do same,” Mr Wiafe said.

Friday, August 3, 2018

“Kill your child” – Social welfare officer advises mother with disabled child.

A social Welfare Officer at the Tarkwa District Assembly has advised a mother of a child with cerebral palsy to kill her child and be free instead of looking for government’s support

The officer gave the advice when Mrs Faustina Asiedu Larbi, Mother of a child with cerebral palsy went to the district assembly office to enquire about accessing the disability funds for her daughter.

Mrs Asiedu Larbi who also coordinates a mothers’ support group in Tarkwa narrating the story said, “I learnt from the Special Mothers Project platform, an advocacy and awareness creation programme on cerebral palsy, that parents can now access the disability funds for their children.”

“I went with another mother of a child with disability to go and inquire to know how we can access the funds, and to find out more about the LEAP Programme the Social welfare officer, an elderly man pulled me aside and told me not to waste my time seeking government’s support.”

He told me to “kill my child and be free”

Mrs Hannah Awadzi, Executive Director of the Special Mothers Project blamed the social welfare officer’s attitude on ignorance.

She said the Special Mothers Project will soon start a sensitization campaign on cerebral palsy among major stakeholders.

One of the stakeholders we want to work with is the social welfare officers in the various district assemblies. We will organize information seminars or workshops for the officers to enable them understand the challenges that families raising children with cerebral palsy go through.

Mrs Awadzi said the Special Mothers Project aims at enhancing the lives of families raising children with cerebral palsy and urged all Ghanaians to embrace and be helpful to families raising children with the condition

“If you have a school, accept children with cerebral palsy in your facility,” she said calling on society to support the project to create an inclusive society.