The Ability Project addresses the issue of general maltreatment of people with disabilities in Ghana and many other countries today. Through our past projects in Ghana we have witnessed the negative perceptions and poor treatment many adults and children with disabilities endure. This includes physical abuse, neglect and abandonment. Disabled children are often hidden from society and they never get the chance to be successful, productive members of their communities. The Ability Project aims to dispel myths, educate and sensitize the communities regarding the value of all people with all abilities. Our Project will concentrate on access, opportunity and positive community integration to support persons with disabilities. The Ability Project will set up community workshops to include parents, professionals and disabled individuals working together in making adaptive equipment using local recycled materials. This will provide many disabled individuals with the tools they need to gain more independence and increase opportunities to be successful members of their community. We also plan to host community events that use skits and entertainment to show that all people have strengths and weaknesses and all can add value to their communities in different ways. The Americans Serving Abroad Projects team will travel to Ghana to participate and facilitate the process. We will work in close partnership with in-country organization ASIGE to organize the events and exchange information and ideas. ASIGE will then ensure continuation of the project and help to procure materials for ongoing workshops and training. We aim to ensure that that physically and intellectually challenged individuals are given opportunities for education and training to ensure equal access by removing barriers to success.
I have personally been interested and involved in the well-being and rights of people with physical and intellectual disabilities in the U.S. since grade school when I began volunteer work with children with disabilities. This interest and passion continued in my career as a Registered Nurse.I have spent the majority of my 35 years as a nurse caring and advocating for people with intellectual and physical disabilities. Over the years I have seen great progress in this country in the way people with disabilities are perceived, treated and valued. During my service trips to Ghana over the past 10 years I have been saddened and appalled at the mistreatment and neglect experienced by individuals seen as being disabled. I have made a decision that that I need to try to use my experience, knowledge and professional connections to try to change this.
The initial seed grant I received from The Pollination Project in 2014 was critical to the start of Americans Serving Abroad Project. It gave me confidence to continue my dream of helping those less fortunate in developing countries in Africa. The money that was granted was certainly helpful in getting the project off the ground but even more instrumental was the knowledge that someone believed in me and had confidence in what I was able to do. In the same way, disabled individuals often just need to know that someone believes in them and their abilities in order to thrive and be successful.
When ASAP visited the Feo Cerebral Palsy Clinic in Northern Ghana, we witnessed so many bright, delightful children who I knew would never have the opportunity to lead a successful, productive life unless something changed. The followup impact grant we have been awarded by The Pollination Project is the help we need to get the Ability Project off the ground to start making real changes their lives. Our hope is that once we develop and initiate the project, we can then duplicate it in other communities and countries to start making real positive changes in the way people with disabilities are viewed and treated and work towards equal access to education and training.