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Monday, April 20, 2015

Stigmatisation

Mr Gilbert Asekabta speaks at a community picnic
Host families and volunteers together at picnic
One of the main issues we have noticed in our short time in Sandema is the stigmatisation of people with disabilities (PWDs). A stigma is a set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group have about something. For example, a volunteer recently heard an educated person referring to PWDs as “morons”.  In the UK, people would be shocked at this but unfortunately in Ghana it is something that is not so surprising. In some communities people still hold the view that disabilities are caused by curses or that PWDs are evil. These incorrect views have negative effects on the livelihoods of PWDs. Adults struggle to find work as they are often thought of as more of a burden than a help. Questionnaires carried out with teachers by the previous cohort found that mockery and discrimination were part of the main reasons why children with disabilities (CWDs) dropped out of education.

Despite this, the situation in Sandema and its surroundings has been improving thanks to the work of International Service and its partner Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR). We recently heard from Mr. Gilbert Asekabta who is President of the Disabled People Organisation for the local area and has cerebral palsy. He told us of the challenges he faced growing up and how the treatment of PWDs has gradually improved over time due to the education on disabilities and disability rights in the community. The education showed the community that the stigmas around disabilities are false and that disabilities can happen to anyone through no fault of their own and that PWDs can play a part in the community. This enabled Mr. Gilbert to become the first disabled man to get married in Sandema. Additionally, for the first time in the history of local elections, 5 disabled people came out to contest in the district assembly election. Two aspired to be elected as unit committee members and 3 as assemblymen for the local area. However, there is still a lot of work to do.

Building on the last cohort’s work we as ICS volunteers will be holding sensitisations in schools and the community, inclusive ICT lessons, an inclusive girls’ club as well as organising  an inclusive sports programme. We believe that the sensitisations will continue to counter the stigmas associated with disabilities. The ICT lessons, girls’ club and inclusive sports programme will offer an invaluable opportunity for  children with and without disabilities to learn and play together. This work will continue the progress made in making the community of Sandema an inclusive one.


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