The road to proper healthcare is long when there isn’t a road you can take.
While spending seven weeks in various regions of Ghana in the summer of 2013, it became blindingly apparent to me that, though I had good intentions, “fixing” the Ghanaian healthcare system to allow for beautiful and effective healthcare for all people with intellectual disabilities was too much for one person to undertake. But what I learned from one woman named Patience hasn’t left me since, and that is this: the things preventing people from proper healthcare can be mind blowingly simple, so simple, in fact, that they are easy to overlook. I’m talking about the fact that though current Ghanaian healthcare legislation allows for free healthcare for people with intellectual disabilities, many people will never be able to access these services because they are physically unable to transport themselves to the facility, which may be as close as down the road. This was the case of 24 year old Richard, Patience’s son, who had not been to the doctor in twelve years because he did not have the ability to walk. So when Patience asked me for a wheelchair, a simple solution to a big problem, it became a request that has stuck with me to this day.
Though Richard is no longer with us, The Patience Project now funds medical expenses for over thirty children with disabilities in the Volta Region of Ghana, covering everything from mobility equipment to weekly physical therapy to surgeries. Additionally, we have funded the implementation of ramps for a school for the deaf and have several projects in the works aimed at educating health professionals on basic physical therapy mechanisms and thereby increasing services for children in rural communities. We focus on the sustainability of our approach, directing our resources to connect health professionals, caregivers, and persons with disabilities with access to the services they need.
Though small in scope (for now), this project is about achieving a realistic goal that could have life-changing consequences. This project is about refusing to let lack of mobility prevent people from accessing life.