Sunday, June 28, 2009

Day 5 (May 24) - The Slums

Today, Sunday, we attended Eric Annan’s church (above), Shepherd Baptist Church. They are in the process of building a new church, so we sat next to the construction site under a tent. It was extremely hot, as usual, but all the men wore suits and the women were dressed in floor length dresses made of gorgeous, colorful fabric. The church service was very religious and much more conservative than my Episcopalian upbringing. Faith is a huge part of African culture and an open mind must be kept.

After church, Felicia and her daughter Euphralia, came with us to the slum neighborhoods. Felicia often visits individuals here and does what she can for them. We first met Lizzie (pictured below). She is almost totally blind and has decreased use of her legs. She is from a village outside of Accra but cannot pay to get home. She came to the city to beg but now cannot get back.

Once I took the camera out to photograph Lizzie, children came up to have their pictures taken as well. One of these children was the little girl pictured below. She was afraid of me because she had never seen a white person before.

We then met Moses and George (pictured below). Moses is angry that the government has done nothing for him. He said it is easier and more lucrative to beg on the streets than to learn a trade. He is able to send his children to private school with the amount of money he makes begging in the streets. Moses and George would like to start a dressmaking business but claim they have no help from the government to do so. They may be taught the trade but then no one gives them money to be able to start working on their own. They are both very enlightened about the rights of individuals with disabilities in Ghana and are angry that more has not been done.

We then walked to where we would be assisting with the weekly feeding of local street children. Many of these children are orphans and have to fend for themselves. One 6 yr old is not only responsible for her own survival, but that of her infant sister whom she carries on her back. However, the most amazing part was that these children were so happy! They are filthy, hungry and probably full of worms – but they are happy.

We evaluated several children, in the back of the blue van, including 10 yr old Felicia. Felicia had a suffered a stroke which resulted in left-sided hemiparesis in her upper extremity and lower extremity. She presented with possible contracture in her left hand. Stacey and I traced her hand for a splint to be made if possible.

I have a friend, Dianne, who lives in Richmond and worked with me before graduate school. She is from Accra and her parents still live there. Mr. and Mrs. Azu, and their friend Joe, met with us at the hotel. We were able to interview them about the disability culture in Ghana among other things. It was nice to feel as though I have a family in Ghana and I know I am always safe and welcome in their home.

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