It is great news to hear a relative, close friend or acquaintance has given birth. The arrival of a new baby brings joy and excitement to the home and community, especially, when it is so small as to get the news to every member.
It comes as a shock and disappointment, particularly, to parents when the welcome addition to the family turns out to be disabled in any form.
The large number of physically- challenged children in the Bunkpurugu-Yunyoo District of the Northern Region of Ghana could be jaw-dropping experience even to the casual observer.
About seven hours drive from Tamale, the Northern Regional capital; Bunkpurugu-Yunyoo District is located in the north-eastern corner of the Northern Region.
It takes little or no effort to find disabled persons maneuvering their way through the town or villages nearby from Nankpanduri to Bunkpurugu.
Confidence, Kombat And Other Disabled People Are Not Hopeless
33-year-old Daniel Confidence and 40-year Kombat Jacob were not born disabled. No medication at health facilities could get them back on their feet.
But life has however thrown at them the condition in which they find themselves today. Confidence, Kombat and other disabled people are not hopeless. They believe their future will virtually turn around.
While they praise God in their own way with much ambition, Confidence smiles and tells me “disability is not inability”.
“Once we are alive, we shall do what the abled people could not do and change the world,” he declares confidently.
Kofi Abraham was put to bed just after the father passed on. For four years since then, he has made no attempt to use his legs. He moves around only by crawling.
“I was pregnant when the father died. Since I gave birth to him, he is yet to make use of his legs,” lamented Abraham’s mother, Tienim Kofi.
Abraham might just remain in his present condition, if no help comes by way of medical intervention.
Madam Tienim Kofi is worried her only hope will endure disability for the rest of his life.
“I believe my son can walk if he gets medical care. He can’t remain like this. I believe he can make it. What I need is support for my son,” she says with hope.
The story of Abraham reflects the situation in the largely rural Bunkpurugu Yunyoo District. Many more children are victims of the natural phenomenon.
Tanko cannot see his physical condition as an impediment to becoming a doctor
Meet 15-year old Tanko Yakubu. His dream is to become a medical doctor.
He is so determined he cannot see his physical condition as an impediment.
Tanko braces the odds, crawling through a stretch of bush; about 20 minutes ride on a motorbike, to and from school every day.
“I want to become to a doctor,” Tanko tells me just after he had returned from school.
His father has also passed away. He is now an “albatross around the neck” of a single parent – the mother.
“Life has been difficult since my son became disabled,” says Tanko’s mother, Madigi Yananbe, who is optimistic her son can reach to the top.
Despite challenges to Tanko’s bid to get education, he is one of a few disabled persons in school in Ghana.
Many of them are too poor to afford aids such as wheel-chair and clutches which make movement easier for them.
Life, for these children, is just out of the ordinary; they are fighting to stay strong enough to tell their stories one day.
David And Sammy’s Entry To The World Came With Mixed Feeling For Relatives And Friends
For David and Sammy, their stories are slightly different, though the effects are similar.
They were born disabled and their entry to the world came with mixed feeling for relatives and friends.
Their father, Bugsimah Mbalabna, is getting more frustrated. “I am confused. I don’t know what to do at the moment,” he laments.
For some locals, this is becoming a communal issue which requires support for parents of David and Sammy as well as other physically challenged children.
Helping in carrying the children on the never-ending trips to hospital and general childcare comes handy from community members.
Perhaps, the challenges ahead of these children and their feeling of desperation have dawned on the people to take issue more serious.
Mr. Mbalabna, once again, says even medical attention during his wife’s pregnancy could not prevent what his children now find themselves in.
Sammy and David sit at one place for the whole day until their location is changed by their father.
They stretch their necks downwards before they feed themselves.
Well, you might just wonder how they are carried back to their room. Though their father made attempts to get them into school, Sammy appears convinced he cannot make it.
David And Sammy’s Father Lost His Job Under A Bizarre Circumstance
Bugsimah Mbalabna is a Middle School leaver who used to work as pupil-teacher.
He was once adjudged one of the best facilitators in the Northern Region.
The father lost his job in 1986 under circumstances he describes as bizarre. Since then he took to backyard farming.
“They just said our service was terminated without any letter,” he recounts.
David and his brother’s condition keeps worsening by the day and their father is also losing hope.
Ten Percent Of African Population Are Disabled
The number of people living with disability in Africa is on the rise. About 10 per cent of the continent’s population is impaired one way or the other. About 80 per cent of them are unemployed.
The World Bank estimates 20 percent of the world’s poorest people are disabled and most disadvantaged.
Back To Abraham, Tanko, Sammy And David’s Story
When people are in crisis one must never be afraid to talk to them. If such words are meant for kindness, even if quite the right thing is said, individuals can't make the disadvantaged feel any worse than they do already.
Such words are meant for kindness, words Abraham, Tanko, Sammy, David and many other disabled children want to hear in the Bunkpurugu District.
It's a win-win situation, if one appreciates what parents of these children go through.