Raising a child with disability is a herculean task, requiring great strength, patience and determination. Coupled with a myriad of challenges; socio-economic, physical, emotional, etc., parents of children with disability constantly face discrimination and social ostracism on a daily basis. As the world celebrates “World Cerebral Palsy Day”, the Here for Perfection (H4P) Organization acknowledges and appreciates the selfless sacrifice of all parents of children with cerebral palsy.
What is Cerebral Palsy?
Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a group of disorders that affects a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture. Cerebral Palsy is caused by abnormal brain development or damage to the developing brain that affects a person’s ability to control his or her muscles. Cerebral Palsy is a common neurological problem in children and is reported as occurring in approximately 2-2.5 of 1000 live births globally.
Impairments resulting from Cerebral Palsy ranges in severity, usually in correlation with the degree of injury to the brain. The primary effect of CP is impairment of muscle tone, motor functions, balance, coordination, reflexes, posture etc. In some cases, the child may have difficulty in swallowing, feeding, speech impairment etc.
Signs and symptoms of CP are not readily visible at birth except in severe cases and may appear within the first five years of the child. Usually in such cases, the visible early sign of CP is a delay in the development of the child; delay in crawling, sitting, standing and even walking.
Even though there is currently no cure for CP, it can be managed thereby reducing the symptoms and increasing mobility. Research has proven that early intervention; physiotherapy, speech therapy etc. help CP children to maximize their future potential.
The Ghanaian Situation
In the Ghanaian society, children with Cerebral Palsy are often times referred to as “snakes” or “children of the river god” (Nsuo Ba) and as such must be “seen off” (killed). These misconceptions people have about children with CP stems from traditional belief systems and the lack of proper understanding of disability which gives rise to superstitious beliefs. As a result, most people usually kill their children with cerebral palsy whiles others resort to locking them up at home in order to avoid being ridiculed by society.
The Here for Perfection (H4P) Organization is a Non-Governmental Organization with a focus to promote the rights of the vulnerable in the society; especially persons with disability.
Through H4P’s Special Advocacy for Persons with Disability, the organisation has through its media advocacy platform; “The Helping Hand TV Show” educated the general public on disability related issues with special reference to cerebral palsy. The H4P Organization on this TV Show has interviewed a successful lady with Cerebral Palsy in Ghana; Miss Farida Bedwei, (an IT Specialist) who is currently making meaningful contributions to national development.
It is an undeniable fact that parents of CP children face several challenges which in most cases destroy the fiber of the marriage leading to broken homes. On the Helping Hand TV Show, H4P has also interviewed several mothers of CP children whose spouses absconded as a result of having children with special needs. Such mothers are left to single-handedly bear the brunt of nurturing their children with special needs.
The H4P Crew with a mother of a child with Cerebral Palsy.
Some “single mothers” who are gainfully employed but have very little support from family members are usually compelled to lock up their children in order to secure jobs and earn income for the upkeep of the child. Others also quit their jobs to enable them give their children with special needs the best of care. In the worst cases, those who are overwhelmed by the complexities of nurturing a CP child “see their children off” (that is , kill them).
The H4P Organization through the Helping Hand Community Project; a social support system, has given assistance in various forms to several mothers with CP Children in Ghana. H4P has provided start-up capital for some of these single mothers, catered for the enrollment of CP children in special schools, given financial support to cater for medical expenses etc.
H4P has also intensified its advocacy for persons with disability by initiating the H4P Public Awareness Project. The project is aimed at educating the general public on disability related issues, thereby gradually demystifying the myths and misconceptions surrounding disability and building an all-inclusive society. The project also seeks to sensitize people about how to handle situations of disability and better relate with persons with disability.
As the voice for the Disabled community in Ghana, the H4P Organization is passionately working to inspire, empower and bring dignity to disability through the various projects it undertakes.
The H4P Organization has a strong belief that having a child with disability does not put parents of such children in a hopeless situation. The H4P Organization acknowledges and appreciates the efforts of all parents of children with Cerebral Palsy.