Submitted by Michaela Sholes
I was encouraged in such a special way today, when we had some staff and children from an NGO in Tema come to visit today. Disabled Equipment Sent Overseas (DESO) is an organization that works to provide specialized equipment for the many Ghanaian men, women, and children who are affected by physical disabilities. Their energetic group (which included a little boy who is mute, a teacher whose legs were crippled by polio, and a gentleman who also utilizes a metal brace to stabilize his leg) was so inspiring to me for a number of reasons, not the least of which being the non-verbal communication of the grinning little boy as he pointed to the planes flying their circuits, completely mesmerized. It made his day later on when one of our flying students let him try on a headset! I loved hearing from the teacher about how he is heading this school for other disabled children and how he doesn't consider himself to be disabled at all because of his mindset which focuses on what he CAN do, rather than what he can't.
Although the Ghanaian national campaign against polio has seen great successes against the disease, there are still a great many around Ghana who suffer from the challenges of physical disabilities as well as the stigma associated with it. Unfortunately, many times a deformity or abnormality may be called "witchcraft" or something to that effect, limiting that person's access to support structures and other resources. While disabilities anywhere present a unique set of challenges for the individual, there are especially few resources available to them here in Ghana which can leave them particularly vulnerable in terms of education and future possibilities. Health education is about more than just increasing awareness about disease prevention and treatment, but should also include advocacy to encourage integration in place of segregation