Ghana 2009 - Day 2
Today, we carried out our first wheelchair distribution locally in Tema. We arrived at our destination around 9:00am, where there were already several people waiting for us and a sense of anticipation in the air. We set up our base in the grounds of a local Anglican church; our workstations ended up being quite squashed together as there was limited shade available and we were all feeling the heat! The therapists who were new to the team, including myself, shadowed a more experienced team member for the first assessment, in order to get an idea of the process. After this, we quickly got to work carrying out our own assessments, with the much appreciated help of our interpreters. The 'techies' also quickly got to grips with things. In fact, we were all working extremely well together as a team, considering we were almost strangers when we met at Heathrow airport only two days before!
It was interesting to get our first glimpse of the impact of disability in a third-world country. Many of the 42 patients we saw during the day were forced to crawl about on their hands and knees, often only with flip flops to protect their hands. They were lacking the basic dignity and independence we so often take for granted. Several of them had developed sores from so much time spent crawling over all the rough terrain. Many of them had also developed quite severe contractures, something you would seldom experience to the same degree in England, as preventative measures would have been put in place much earlier down the line. It was amazing that through the small gesture of giving people a free wheelchair, it was able to make such a big difference in their lives.
Following receiving their wheelchair or other mobility aid, each individual was given the opportunity to hear the Gospel and be prayed with. I was surprised and pleased to see how keen people were to accept this opportunity – not a single one of the people I saw opted not to receive prayer. They seem to count it such a blessing! One woman sat for ages after receiving her free Bible, just reading it, unable to put it down. It was great to see her for the first time in her life having the opportunity to fully immerse herself in God’s word. It made me think how we are so blessed in England to be able to afford our own copy of the Bible and yet, so often we take it for granted and it just spends far too much time sat on the shelf.
Following the wheelchair distribution we grabbed a late lunch, before visiting the Shekinah Children's Home in Tema, which is home to 28 children. We were welcomed with smiles and laughter! It was great to meet the children and see all the love and support the staff at the home provide. All the children wanted to show us around and point out which bunk bed was theirs - they seemed so excited to have visitors. The children also loved having their photographs taken and viewing the photos back – in fact, you could say it made them a little hyperactive! However, despite the smiles on most of the children’s faces, I couldn’t get over the sadness on the face of one of the young girls, who just sat quietly on Glenda’s lap for the whole of our time there. I’m not sure she ever spoke – you couldn’t help but wonder what was going through her mind. Another thing that struck me was how hot and stuffy it was in all the rooms, particularly the middle room which had no windows – it was like a sauna. Apparently they’ve been saving up for a fan in the middle room, and some money donated was able to help them towards this.