Thursday, May 9, 2013

Disabled People’s Organisation (DPO) Meetings in the Builsa District

As a continuation of the work the first set of Sandema volunteers have done, we are developing the Local Inclusive Festival Project (LIFE) by working on 3 specific areas as mentioned in Shazia’s earlier blog; Sports, Cultural Activities, and Livelihoods. All 3 of these are focused around the social inclusion of persons with disabilities (PWD) and will be done within the context of the Feok Festival.

This week we focused on Cultural Activities and Livelihoods by meeting with the Disabled People’s Organisation (DPO) of several communities within the Builsa District. Our aim was to interview the DPOs, who represent persons with disability (PWD) within their community, and find out about their livelihoods, difficulties they face at work, cultural groups that they are part of, and would like to be part of in preparation for the Feok festival.

Most DPO meetings started with a traditional song and dance by the DPO members followed by a prayer and this would be repeated at the end of the meeting. We introduced ourselves and Tracy talked about the LIFE project before beginning with interview questions to the group and occasionally individual interviews. Festus was our translator throughout our meetings and interviews with DPOs, as our knowledge of Buli didn’t go beyond greetings!

Overall, a very interesting experience and a stark realisation of the differences between Ghana and the UK:

-          Meetings took place in classrooms or under a tree as most DPOs don’t have a place for regular meetings, except in Sandema which had a Resource Centre specifically for PWD.

-          Not all DPO members could come to the meeting due to various reasons including family duties, lack of transportation, or lack of mobility devices.

-          Following a torrential rain shower on May Day, the meeting had to be cancelled as it would be difficult for PWD to travel to the DPO meeting.

-           The meetings were quite successful but slightly challenging as some DPOs weren’t always too eager to respond to our group questions and preferred individual consultations.

With regards to Cultural Activities, they were all willing and eager to have a singing and dancing group and to teach each other but needed instruments, training, and someone to organise regular rehearsals. With regards to Livelihoods, DPOs whose professions ranged from farming to shea butter production to trading emphasised the lack of resources available to them. The vocational training that some had received with the help of CBR or from the Disability Common Fund could not be developed and used to make and sell goods due to financial constraints.

Following these interviews at Sandema, Kadema, Siniensi, Gbedema and Wiaga it was clear that although very eager to learn, PWDs are faced with a lot of challenges and difficulties most of which are financial.

With our research we hope to create sustainable, yet practical, solutions to address the social inclusion of PWD by creating programs that will be go beyond the Feok festival, and will benefit persons with disabilities all year round.  We will keep you updated on any developments and our ideas!


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