The evolution of this project fascinates even me, as much as I thought I was at the helm of something I could control. But alas, every time I try to circumnavigate my own naïveté, it comes back and hits me in the face, but it’s beautiful really…to realize how much fun it is that you have so much left to learn.
What I mean is this: the plan of purchasing and delivering wheelchairs, while still in the cards, has not proven to be the simple task we had anticipated, and even if it was, being here has rendered me incapable of moving forward with anything that I do not see as sustainable. The people here are not the kind of people you can give a wheelchair to and leave. The problem is so much more complicated than that, and in meeting the children we have spent our time with recently, my desire to shift the project to a more sustainable approach has increased tenfold. Ideally what that will look like is finding the children with intellectual and physical disabilities at a young age, as early as possible, and supporting the medical expenses related to their future mobility. For example, baby Etonam, who has CP, cannot get to the next stage of physical therapy without calipers and crutches, at which point he will be able to learn to walk. It is our goal to support this child by purchasing this equipment for him and setting up a fund that allows his family to return each week to continue his physical therapy at the hospital. In these little faces I see the face of Richard, and I know that had Richard been given such an opportunity when he was just a boy, he could have been walking too. Like I said, mobility is only the first step in gaining a more independent lifestyle, and it is one we are very much equipped to support.
I sat down with Carrie yesterday to work out a list of all the children, and a few adults, and all the expenses related to their mobility and care. Some need crutches, others wheelchairs or prosthetics, but all need assessments at an orthopedic center in Accra where we will go next week. Right now there are fourteen on our list, and we are every day meeting more children we wish to add to it.
My main concern in all of this is consistency and sustainability, because I simply can’t be another person who comes to Ghana, checks a box that they have helped someone, and never checks in again. These children deserve so much better than that, and I would like to make sure we can continue to provide the right equipment for them as they grow and develop. I have been learning so much from Carrie and Ford, who devote themselves to these children and their families, making sure they have every opportunity for independence and happiness.
It’s amazing how much I’ve learned in just two weeks. It’ll be enough to occupy the forefront and recesses of my thoughts for years to come. These issues are just so big, and I’m just me, but I care, and that’s a start.