Scores of physically-challenged persons share the busy pedestrian walks in Accra.
With a practiced begging they should be able to inspire sympathy to buy lunch. Several dozens will not. Several will go hungry.
The Accra Rehabilitation Centre is working to change this narrative about the physically-challenged.
About 50 people who have varied forms of disabilities are learning vocational skills which can give them a life different from their counterparts who live on alms.
And this is where Beryl Richter found Kofi Raynold Asare, 26 year old trainee. Kofi was born with cerebral palsy- and a creative power of drawing.
He started drawing at 12 years old. And not even his ineffective hands could stop him for he learnt to scribble using his mouth.
Unlike most children with cerebral palsy, Kofi had the opportunity to be enrolled in this school thanks to occupational therapists at the Salvation Army Rehabilitation Centre at Begoro in the Eastern region.
He wore a constant smile when I met him and he showed me the results of this unusual collaboration between his lips and sticks.
Kofi Asare loves drawing, and can draw almost everything, creating shapes and images and making well guided brush strokes with his mouth. His dream is to open his own art gallery.
People who live with disabilities suffer stigma at every stage of their lives. Kwaku Antwi has lived through years of being scorned and disrespected.
Seven years ago he enrolled here for training. Today, he is a technical instructor at this rehab centre, a position he has held since 2014.
Kwaku Antwi has this message for government and other physically challenged people.
Meanwhile, former manager of the facility, Stephen Dombo has called on people to desist from giving money to the physically challenged who beg on the street. According to him, this defeats the purpose of making them financially independent.
He therefore called on families to enroll their disabled relatives at the centre.
Kofi Asare and Kwaku Antwi are just two of the over thousand people who have been trained by this rehab centre since its establishment in 1962.
There’s indeed so much that can be achieved by individuals who have skills. People living with disabilities can be discouraged from begging on the streets if this rehab centre continues to support the skills development of the disabled in our society
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