Saturday, June 13, 2009

Adoteimon Child Development Center

For the 1st few days while in Ghana, we worked at the child development center that Sovereign Global Mission and the social work department at VCU are building. In addition to learning about the disability culture in the country and working with various centers and schools, we painted at the center. Even though it was hot and tiring work, I wholeheartedly supported the decision to complete community service work while we were there.

Painting the outside of the classroom building

Stacey (the shortest person there!) somehow ended up with a long-handled roller everyday

Painting the inside of a classroom

Posing with the professionals...they kept us in line

The child development center will serve as a school when it is completed for children in the village of Adoteimon. Adoteimon is a developing neighborhood about an hour outside of Accra. The homes in the community were built by Habitat for Humanity for families who raised 200 cedis (about $140) for their homes to be built. This center is where the library we collected books and donations for will reside. Although our books and bookshelves were still en-route, the library already has some books and shelves that Cameron (a VCU social work master's graduate who was staying in Ghana for a few months with Eric's family) was working hard to organize.

Reading in the library

Cameron posing with her hard work

On Saturdays, the children of Adoteimon are invited to gather at the child development center to read books in the library, to do crafts and, of course, to play! We were invited to join on our 1st Saturday and were told that there would be a few families attending who have children with disabilities. Eric and Felicia are attempting to begin a network of families with children with special needs in the community. Of the 10 who were invited, 2 came; 1 boy with paralysis in the lower limbs and 1 girl with undiagnosed Down's Syndrome. We were warned that turnout might be low because these families would be walking (in some cases miles) to get there.

We did a basic evaluation and consulted with the families on different strategies to perform exercises and stretch, remain active, and to learn in the home as neither child attends school. I was baffled to learn that the girl with Down's Syndrome was asked to leave school after biting her teacher who thought she was going to "catch" her disability. Although I had expected to run into a lack of understanding of disability, I was still taken aback by this reaction. This was a time when I had to remind myself of the cultural differences that exist and that I was in Ghana to learn about those differences, not to judge them. In an effort to expand the family's understanding of their child's disability (though not to diagnose it - just to be clear!), we armed them with a basic understanding of Down's Syndrome so that they might educate others.

After the evaluations were complete, we were able to play with the children in the community and they even put a play on for us (Where the Wild Things Are)! This was a great way to top off our time at the child development center and gave us a great introduction to the kinds of issues we were going to run into while working with individuals with special needs in Ghana.

Children reading and coloring with Eric

Performing Where the Wild Things Are

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