I had an opportunity to talk to a pastor of a well known church in Ghana about cerebral palsy (CP), as part of an advocacy and awareness creation project I am working on.
The pastor whose church is known for organising charity for people with disability, including free medical screening for them seems very ignorant about CP as an issue.
As we talked he would interject and ask: “So these children, I mean the children with cerebral palsy do they have any future.”
The first time, he asked I wondered what answer I should give him, so I intentionally pretended as if I did not hear but then he asked a second and a third time so I started pointing to him people with CP living what I will call a fulfilled life.
I had no cause to be angry with the question the pastor asked, knowing very well the very low level of awareness on CP coupled with the fact that probably the majority of families that have a child with the condition would normally not take the child out.
In Ghana we hardly see children with CP at social gathering.
I keep pointing people in Ghana to one lady that I am personally very proud of. Her name is Farida Bedwei, She is an IT entrepreneur and she has CP.
One thing I hammer anytime I talk about Farida is that she is not even walking but I can say that she is making such a huge impact in Ghana and beyond and if you doubt this you could Google her name.
Elsewhere I have read about people living with CP making such great impact with their lives and as a mother with a child with the condition, Farida and others give me so much hope.
So I started the Special Mothers Project, an advocacy and awareness creation programme, aimed at empowering especially mothers with CP children in Ghana to better understand their children’s condition and to better handle them.
In the course of time, I have come to realize that it is not only the mothers that need empowerment but our society as a whole.
I dream of a time in Ghana when a mother with a child who has CP would walk boldly into a crèche or an early learning development centre and she would be welcomed without any hesitation.
As it is now, even accepting a child with CP in an early learning development centre is at the discretion of the owner or head of school.
Those who would readily accept such a child may be due to the need for money and trust me the fees are high. I am talking about GH₵ 1200 and above and sometimes a child with CP attracts extra charges.
The Special Mothers Project is looking forward to organising training sessions for staff of pre-school staff to enlighten them that the children only suffer from a medical condition and with a little or love and encouragement they could become assets to the world.
The project also serves as a counselling point for mothers who otherwise are desperate because they have children with CP and the fulfillment I get in knowing that I act as a dose of hope and encouragement to a rather hopeless situation is great.
Mrs Hannah Awadzi, Initiator of the Special Mothers project, said: “We have already started organising workshops for mothers/parents and care-givers to empower them and provide the basic knowledge they need to manage the children.”
“We are calling for your support, corporate Ghana and the international world, support this worthy cause,” she said.
The project would join the rest of the World to celebrate World Cerebral Palsy Day on October 5. We have outlined activities to create more awareness.
The most critical support is the need for prayer to help us advocate to influence policy favourably for families with children who have cerebral palsy
The public could support by donating any amount to the Special Mothers Project- GN Bank, Adentan Branch with account number 1024122400001 or via mobile money on 0244547980.
Join us create more awareness on CP because children with the medical condition have possibilities to make it in life.
The potential public-spirited individuals and organisations would be supporting a worthy cause.
A GNA feature by Hannah Awadzi/News Ghana