15.05.17 | News, A Day to Remember

A Day to Remember...

During his trip to Ghana, EMS Africa Liaison Secretary, Riley Edwards-Raudonat, visited a new EMS funded project of the Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG). It helps mothers of children suffering from cerebral palsy to gain a sustainable livelihood.
Ghanaian mothers who are raising children suffering from cerebral palsy.

In support groups, the women share their experiences and challenges. (Photo: EMS/Edwards-Raudonat)

As this is the first year that EMS has been supporting the work of this project, it was important to me to gain a first-hand impression. With the willing assistance of Maxwell Akandem, Director of Development Services for the Upper Presbytery, this was easily achieved. According to Akandem, there are currently five groups with a total participation of 100 women. I was fortunate to visit two groups of women currently raising children suffering from cerebral palsy.

In conversation with the women, it became clear that the most common cause of cerebral palsy is prolonged labor. At some point, the supply of oxygen is hampered which causes irreparable brain damage to the child. However, depending on the degree of damage suffered, the child may learn to be partially or even fully self-supporting. In the support groups, the women share their experience with each other. This is invaluable, as in their homes, they often face stiff rejection because such children are generally considered to be "spirit children" meaning that they are possessed by the devil.

Little Emilia sits on her mother's lap.
With the help of the PCG, Juliana Ayoma learnt how to strengthen the motor abilities of her daughter. (Photo: EMS/Edwards-Raudonat)

One of the mothers I met was Juliana Ayoma, a mother of three. She told me that her youngest child Emilia appeared at first to be normal. But at about the age of six months, Juliana noticed that her daughter could not sit properly. The mother then sought medical assistance and found her way into the support group. She thus gained access to home-based physical therapy and has since learned how to do daily exercises with Emilia to strengthen her motor development. However, her husband insists that the child is her problem, not his. "He thinks that this is a spirit child, and that God will take it away. So, he doesn't help me," says Juliana Ayoma.

Now that her daughter's health has improved, Juliana would like to learn dressmaking to better her income. But as a married woman with three children "it will not be possible for her to attend vocational school on a full-time basis," explains Maxwell Akandem of the PCG. Instead, he attached her to a local dressmaker as an apprantice. "The program can cover that expense and provide a sewing machine as well," says Maxwell Akandem.

Riley Edwards-Raudonat