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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Radio Ga-Ga

As the event draws ever closer (two weeks left to go-eek) we have been looking for methods to promote and advertise the sports day. The team has been working hard creating some jazzy posters to put up around Sandema, attending meetings, working on letters of invitation and press releases.

However, by far the most effective means of communication has been our RADIO DEBUT. Last Friday we had the opportunity to be interviewed by the station manager himself on our local radio station, Radio Builsa. 

Radio Builsa is situated just behind the back of our house and they have been desperate to have us on air since we arrived. We arrived on time, but Ibrahim was running slightly late so we got the opportunity to listen to the previous show- where the DJ actually sent out a personal plea for Ibrahim to hurry up. We were all very excited but Phil was sweating buckets, but not this time from the heat. The prospect of speaking to 80,000 people was very daunting. Radio Builsa covers the whole of the Builsa district, a majority of the Upper East and parts of the Northern region; we were addressing a very large audience.

We had devised a radio programme shaped around all the work we are doing in Ghana, but with an emphasis on our all-inclusive Sports day. We spoke about the sports aspect of our project and the Coaching for Coaches scheme extensively. We also spoke about our cultural groups and the new drumming group for whom we are trying to fundraise. While we had devised the majority of the questions, Ibrahim had composed a few which he thought would be of interest to the audience. These questions were quite telling and thought provoking.

Team LIFE with Ibrahim Alhassan at Radio Builsa

Firstly he asked us how we had found people with disabilities, did we seek them out in their homes or was there a large infrastructure which we had accessed? 
Nearly all of our contact with disabled people has been based in the Disabled People Organizations (DPOs).  It made me realize that this is something that we take for granted, without the initiative of individuals in the community we would find it increasingly difficult to find people with disabilities and help them.  It also brought to light that perhaps the DPOs were not as widely recognized as they are within our CBR circle. Do the people of Builsa know about the DPOs? How many hundreds of people with disabilities are not tapping into this vital resource? So if anything it was quite good to just raise awareness on the radio of the DPOs and the amazing work which they do.

Another interesting question which Ibrahim asked us was whether we were seeing talented people in the disabled community and how far they could go with these talents. An easy question for us to answer, there is no doubt in any of our minds that these people are talented.

Some of the Sandema DPO soap
At the Sandema DPO they make soap nearly every day of the week. They boil it to the right consistency, calculate the quantity of ingredients, seek out competitive markets for raw materials, create promotion campaigns on the radio, practice their selling techniques in the market, keep account of finances and make a profit. They are entrepreneurs with an established brand within Sandema.

Soap makers extraordinaire!

 They need support in record keeping, calculating expenses and profit margins; but this is not because they are disabled, but because many of them have poor literacy skills and received little training or schooling, just like many other Ghanaians.




They also create sun loungers which are weaved with beautiful coloured thread. Many of the people who weave these sun beds are completely blind, they just use their hands to feel and follow the pattern.

At the Chuchuliga DPO we saw another bunch of talented people who could sing and dance. These are just a handful of people we have met, there are also acting, story telling and drumming groups based in DPOs all over the Builsa district. With the right amount of support these people have the potential to go very far with their talents.

At the end of our programme Ibrahim opened up the phone lines for us to take questions, which was very exciting. We had a number of callers including Gilbert from Sandema DPO who hammered home our message that people with disabilities are just as capable as able bodied people. One caller asked us how we could involve the blind and another asked us how we intended to involve the deaf. It seems that the people of Builsa are very keen for people with disabilities to get involved in sports, but they just don’t understand how they can. 

Earlier last week Jenny and I had a meeting at the DPO with some parents of disabled children. One young woman turned up and she was physically disabled and used crutches to walk, when we approached her about our sports day she instantly burst out laughing, she couldn’t understand how she could be involved. We hope that our sports day will try to address this problem and change perceptions surrounding disability and also the self-discriminatory nature of many people with disabilities.

We told the callers that we are going to try and use some specialist sports equipment including bell balls and also try to make the games themselves more inclusive. Jenny and Phil have been working on simplifying games such as rounders, football and volleyball while making them more inclusive.

If we achieve anything from this event, hopefully it will be to show how people with disabilities can be included in sports and the community at large.

If you wish to make a contribution to the LIFE project to help include people with disabilities into sports and cultural activities please visit our fundraising page.  All of the money donated will be used to purchase sports equipment and instruments for people with disabilities.

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