An abandoned Angel

Yesterday moning at 8am I was walking to the school centre from the nearby staff compound. It was a normal Sunday, hot and sparse of people, with church music increasing in noise as congregations flocked in to the multitude of churches under operation at Edwenase. But this was no ordinary Sunday morning. Just 2 1/2 hours earlier one of the housemasters arose to open up the gates of the Centre. After a rainy night you may find a puddle outside. Other than that you will just find broken asphalt caused by passing cars that use the school yard as a turning point, much to the disadvantage of those who are wheelchair bound and must travel on a rocky surface to and from their living quarters to the school workshops.

Sunday, March 29th, 2009, was extraordinary for a 8/9 year old girl called 'Angel'. Prior to the descent of dawn, her mother had travelled from some unknown point and decided to leave her daughter on Edwenase's doorstep. She was found by our housemaster lying on a blanket hlding a note in her hand. "Please don't think bad of me my little Angel. I'm leaving you where I think you can be best taken care of. For those who find my beautiful daughter, please take good care of her".

What drove a woman to abandon her kid on some stranger's doorstep. Well, the fact that her daughter suffers from sever cerebral palsy and is unable to walk or verbalise is a large part of the answer. Despite the fact that she was left on her own with just a piece of paper, hides the fact that she was actually well dressed and seemed to be well taken care of before she was found.

Did a desperate mother accede to the demands of a husband tired of fending for the child. Did an already abandoned wife/woman decide the child would be better of in the care of the State and that she could just not cope with the 'burden' of a disabled child any longer?

It appears to have been an act of desperation by a woman not thinking straight. She could have easily have waited for some hours, spoken to the Centre Manager, who would have arranged for the child to be sent to the Department of Social Welfare's children's home, also in Kumasi.

But now, she has obliged the school authorities to inform the police and try fill in the missing information on the child's medical and family background.

Angel will be taken care of by the State, but it is no replacement for even the occasional love of a family member. There is never a day without surprises at Edwenase, and this incident goes to prove that community based rehabilitation and much more family support for the parents and extended family of the disabled is urgently needed to avoid such abandonments in the future.

Comments

Hi Damien - seems like you have far too much faith in the State - that they will 'take care' of this girl. It would be VERY interesting, though sadly I know through experience, quite depressing if you (without intervention), followed the little girl's life over the next few years. What type of facility do you think is going to care for her in Ghana? With no family members paying?! That is even worse and too terrible to imagine. The disabled in Ghana - those without a voice - are the most abused and highly neglected of all. If you research the number and types of facilities available and the quality of care in each, you will be shocked and appalled. I wish it was different but it just isn't. The lady who left her daughter has doomed her for life and there is no pretty way to say it.
Damien Moran said…
Trust me PO, I've got little or no faith in the State and am inclined towards anarchic thought, don't vote for political scum, etc. Hope that clarifies. When I stated that she will be taken care of by the State I didn't state whether she would be taken care of well or badly.I'm not in a position to judge as I have not been to the children's home that is her new home. I was merely trying to say that it would be not comparable to the lover a mother, family and mother can give. There are an umber of students at the place I currently work in that have been in a similar situation to this girl. In other countries I've also met similar people abandoned. Thankfully, there are possibilities that she will be sponsored by either a church organisation or NGO as many of our students are.

In principle, statutory organisations like the Chidren's home run by the Dept of Social Welfare have a staturoy obligation to care for kids like Angel. Of course, it depends on the reaction and attitudes of staff whether she will receive the care she needs.

It's not much different when it comes to vulnerable people in Ireland, even though they have much more State financial support to lean on. From my experiences of working in homeless shelters at home, staff can often try to make theur work place a very comfortable space without allowing the admission of those who may prove to be a little too much work. Such discrimination in State and NGO/Church run social servies is I suspect, and from the countries I have worked in, a universal problem.

There is little doubt, and you have put it in a much prettier way than I will now, that Angel's mother has largely fucked with her chances of having a quality life. One student I know who has a similar condition to Angel appears to be quite happy, despite her disability, due to the great care her family give her. She comes to a State run vocational centre for a few hours a day, not so much to learn anything but to meet friends she has here.

In a few years if either of us bothered to look up this girl, well, I guess we could predict that she will be seated (maybe in a wheelchair) in some State institution with little or no attenmtion given to her. I will be living in Poland or Ireland. I don't know where you will be. One can only hope that Ghanaian society will have changed sufficently to ensure that mothers, fathers, families and comunnities who have a person with a disability in their midst pull together to grant that person community based rehabilitation and support the mother in particular.

I work in one of these instituions that you have asked me to research and will be visiting the others before I leave. From what knowledge I have so far, you are right that they are brutally equipped. State neglect comes from political choice and dare I say budgetary cuts to social services are intrinsically linked to WB/IMF lending conditions. From the study I have done about disability issues a number of post-colonial states, including Zimbabwae had some good and far reaching community based programmes in the 80's.

The aged, disabled, homeless are almost always those who are screwed by the State first when it comes to tightening the coffers. Ghana, Ireland, the U.S. - the State, in my opinion is a heartless entity.
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