Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Motivation from the Disabled Peoples Organisation.

As we sat in Sandemas, Disabled People's Organisation (DPO) office about to start our third meeting with the members, Charles once again was happily weaving his newest creation. When Charles was a child he fell ill with measles, resulting in his sight being lost. Now in later life his household is dependent on the income made from his weaving business. Every day he sits by the road, with a couple of other people, displaying the woven chairs for sale whilst working on his creations. Our intention for the meeting that day was to find out what the members would like to say at the sensitisation we are holding this month. We were not expecting the sheer amount of talent, skills and determination displayed by the members of the DPO. It was inspirational to hear their stories; they were so determined not to allow children and adults with disabilities to face the same stigmas they had gone through.

One member, Aaron spoke, he is a visually impaired man who told us that when he was younger he was blinded due to an act of violence when he was still in school. At first this event took a toll on his confidence, he confined himself to his house and became scared not only of hurting himself again but of the taunting he faced by the community he was once part of. With the help of his friends, who brought him back into the community, he was able to rebuild his self-confidence and learnt to ignore the negative comments from others. Being out in the community lessened the stigma, with the help of his friends he was able to get a job modelling cement blocks. He then urged people dont hide, dont neglect people with disabilities. Dont worry about the words, people will call names, but give all to God. Aaron was lucky to have friends who helped him and found comfort in God.

After Aaron spoke the others were then keen to tell their stories, they all had a similar theme throughout, they all urged people not to disregard people with disabilities, because disability does not mean inability does it? Hearing the members stories was nothing but inspirational, they appear to attain skills that those without a disability may never be able to acquire. We know that we would never be able to weave a chair without the use of my eyes, (even with the use of our eyes it would never be as well-crafted as Charles).

The DPO members have become the incredible people they are today through their own initiative and support from their families. Unfortunately many children and adults with disabilities haven't been given the same support some of our DPO members were. Some are hidden and treated as if they're incapable, without being given a chance, these people are being robbed of their full potential. Recently the Ghana Education Service has made it a requirement that schools become inclusive, meaning that all children with disabilities should be attending school. Whether that be a mainstream school or a special school.
This is why the LIFE project has been doing work to advocate the rights of people with disabilities and promote an inclusive society. We have been working closely with the DPO members through our sensitisations, with the members giving speeches about their experiences of having a disability, their impressive life achievements and a plea to parents to not hide their disabled children but encourage and empower them. Their powerful and heartfelt messages clearly resonate with our audience, as they are always met with an applause and a tremendous cheer of agreement.

It is clear that attitudes towards disabilities are changing for the better and hopefully sooner rather than later Ghana will be host to a fully inclusive society, with everybody reaching their own full capabilities. As the DPO member Mary says in our presentations, "having disabled people living and working in society is not only good for that disabled person. It is good for the family. It is good for the community. It is good for Ghana.

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