A Very Special Day at OTC

On 14 March 2018, we celebrated the longstanding relationship between the Australian High Commission of Ghana and the OTC. This joyous occasion was held to officially hand over equipment donated to the OTC’s new Day Care and Therapy Centre for children with Cerebral Palsy by the Ghana Australia Association. Comm. 1Our honored guests included Mrs. Therese Barnes, wife of the Australian High Commissioner, Ms. Claire Maizonnier from the High Commission, and Mrs. Elizabeth Muntar, a representative of the Ghana Australia Association.

Members of the Ghana Australia Association not only located this special equipment, but they also packed and paid for the shipment to Ghana, including the clearance at the port. This was no small task because, as you can see from the photos, the cartons for this equipment were not small!

Comm. 8OTC is so grateful to the Ghana Australia Association for raising the funds to help us as we build the only centre in the Nsawam community area where children with cerebral palsy can be treated with physio and occupational therapy. A limited number also stay for the day so that their parents can work. The children who are in our daycare are given transportation, meals, and their afternoon bath before returning home in the evening.

The Motivation

OTC Director Sister Elizabeth Newman SSND attended a conference a few years ago. It was there that she learned some staggering statistics about cerebral palsy. In the developed world one child is born with cerebral palsy in 500 live births. However, here in Ghana the rate is much higher at one in every 300 live births. The great need for help was obvious, as the number of children being brought to the OTC for care kept increasing. As always, OTC stayed true to its core mission: to care for children with orthopedic needs, no matter what.

Comm. 6With determination, hard work, and many organizations coming together in support, the new daycare center opened. Now it has specialized wheelchairs, standing equipment, and positioning seats, all sized for children. Some are even made to look like small animals, very attractive and child friendly, encouraging the children to use them.

Moms Make It Happen

IMG_20180314_104420...The key to the early success of the new centre is the involvement of the parents. Those who come faithfully, learn from the therapists how best to work with the children in order to help them overcome their challenges. Moms and even some Dads come, but it is mainly the Moms who are the leaders in care. The love they have for their children is great. You can feel it when they bring their children into the centre. They are patient, they laugh and play with their child, and they are eager to learn more about their child’s needs.

As Sister Elizabeth said to us, “If you want to change attitudes and how we treat children with disabilities, gather a group of dedicated women together, and they will get the job done.”

The work has only just begun, but with leadership from the OTC, the expertise and compassion of dedicated therapists, and support from organizations like the Ghana Australia Association, the center is off to a running start.  That combination, together with strong and faithful family love, guarantee that the new OTC Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy will achieve its mission of making a significant, positive change in the lives of those it serves.

 

Defying Heights: Joseph’s Story

joseph pictureLife has a way of creating inspiration, hope, and opportunities for everyone. In spite of diverse challenges, we still hope and pray that our dreams become reality, but sometimes unexpected adversity seems to shake the ground and make a dream seem impossible. Joseph Magab is like many of the children who have achieved wonderful dreams despite the unexpected challenges that came his way.

Joseph was born in the central region of Ghana in Afram plains. He was a healthy and intelligent boy living with his mother and siblings in the northern region of Ghana. He attended a government primary school and a Roman Catholic Church in the area, and he had friends like everyone does.

On one fateful day at school, a group of healthcare workers came to administer medication to all of the children. Unfortunately for Joseph the medication had a devastating side effect.  He became sick and experienced boils all over his body.  The reaction was severe, and he had to be hospitalized. He was diagnosed with Steven Johnson’s syndrome, a disease that seemed to turn his whole life upside down.

Joseph’s condition worsened because the disease created a condition whereby his body could not produce fluid to keep his eyes well lubricated, and this caused him to lose his vision. He eventually had to drop out of school because of his vision loss and was at home hoping a solution would come his way. He didn’t give up because his family was struggling to make ends meet, so he decided to enrol at the Akropong-Akuapem School for the Blind.

He started at the School for the Blind and had to work harvesting honey in order to pay his school fees and buy food for himself. The school was impressed with his hard work and his ability to cope with school activities and the curriculum in such a short amount of time, so they also helped him financially.

Joseph’s life had taken a turn that allowed his dreams to once again seem possible, but

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Joseph’s friends @ the OTC seeing him off

little did he know that an accident would lead to his right leg being amputated. It all started when he fell from a step at school and injured his knee.  He didn’t want to tell the teachers what had happened, because he was scared they would send him home, which seemed to him a distant place with little hope. So, he kept the injury secret, hoping it would heal, but it got worse and drew the attention of the teachers. The whole school became aware of Joseph’s predicament, and every child gave money to help Joseph to go home and get treatment.He journeyed back home to the north and visited the hospital. Doctors told him that the best option was to amputate his injured leg. The news of losing his leg brought back memories of losing his vision, but he had no option other than to have the amputation. It now seemed to him that all hope was lost. In the midst of this adversity, Joseph was given reason to hope again when his story reached a Good Samaritan who decided to sponsor him to get a prosthetic leg at the Orthopedic Training Centre, OTC, in Nsawam, Ghana.

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He arrives at the schools premises

Today Joseph has gone through intensive rehabilitation and is now walking with his prosthetic leg. The OTC  with help from donors, enrolled him in the Akronpong-Akuapem School for the Blind once again and provided a laptop for him thanks to the generous donation of our faithful supporters. After two years absences from school, the warm smiles on the faces of the staff, teachers and students showed Joseph that his dream is still waiting for him to take a hold of and turn into a reality.

Your generous donation of $30 every month allows us make children like Joseph’s dream come true, Whatsapp +233506759386 and ask me how.

Defying Heights: Gloria’s Story Part 2

glo2 My disability as stated in my last article was never a problem, but High School made me think otherwise. It exposed me to the real world.

I entered Senior High School (SHS) in the second term, and it was in a boarding school. My new community was not familiar with people with disability like me, so they tend to either loath me, or be over sympathetic around me. I had people who wished I vanished by morning, and those who will wake up at night to make sure I am still breathing.  Times in high school was very hard! I was kicked out of my basketball team after my first tournament, because my coach could not have ‘someone like me’, on her team. She said to me, “People stare too much at you, and it makes most of your teammates nervous so they find it difficult to concentrate on the game.”  This came as a big blow to me. My mother used to tell me I can be whatever I want to be, but little did I know some of these wants were not my decision to make.

IMG-20160505-WA0006When I was in SHS, my trips to OTC kept me; I met other young ladies like me who where seniors when I was only beginning. They all told me the same thing, that I will get used to the people, and they will get used to me. It did not happen the way they said it would. I had friends and tutors who really supported me and I had other people who made it their mission to make my life difficult.  My General Knowledge in Art tutor was very encouraging. She told me, “If you survive high school, and it does not break you, nothing ever can”.

I  survived high school, and all stigma that came with it. Before I completed, I was a dinning hall prefect in my final year; I joined the choir; I stayed in the boarding house till I graduated. They never got over the fact that I had ‘one short crooked leg’ yet did everything. I fetched water with or without prosthesis. IMG-20160310-WA0003I did everything by myself.  Although I did not play basketball I was an active student, and I made sure everyone who was there during my time remembered me.  I also told stories about the OTC, and other children with disabilities to my friends and classmates.

Here I am today living life to the fullest. I have completed  my first degree, and I am a career woman . One day a question came to my mind, and it has been steering my life till now. ‘Would I have been where I am today, if my parents had not sought help for my mobility?’. For the most part I can not tell, but this I know that, OTC has had a great impact on my life.20170517_134130  When you are less dependent on people for your mobility, it makes you a little more confident.  It also changes your self-image. These are few of the gifts OTC have given me.  At the moment, I am the Executive Officer at OTC, raising funds; managing the webpage, receiving guests; being a role model for the children, and an ambassador to the world. I love it here, and I am glad my parents made this choice. OTC is not just a rehabilitation center for people with mobility challenges, but one big family.

My name is Gloria Williston, and this is my story.

If you want to support OTC to give children with mobility challenges a chance to living a full and happy life,  you can reach our hotline on +233268339092; donate in the US via our Venmo account @OTC-Ghana; or visit our Donation column on this page for more options.

 

 

Community Outreach Program at OTC

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Gloria (Physiotherapist on rotation), Saki (second from left), Sr. Esther SSND (third from left) and their COP guests from the Netherlands

The Community Outreach Program (COP) is a community-based rehabilitation program by the Physiotherapy department of OTC. The team goes out to the communities to see people with CVA, CP and other neurological problems which needs only physiotherapy.  All other orthopedic problems they find are referred to the centre.

 

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Therapy session with an elderly woman who has CVA @ Asikafoamantem

COP is an initiative by Ms Saki Shibata, a 28 year-old Japanese physiotherapist volunteer at OTC. Saki came to the centre through the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) volunteer program. Her assignment was to see patients that come to OTC, and improve the quality of the skills of the physiotherapy department.

She realized after a while that people were not coming to clinic regularly, although she saw other people with conditions like Cerebral Palsy and children with clubfoot in the community. “These are conditions that OTC treats but the people in the community do not even come”, she wondered. Initially, she thought they had challenges with their finances so she did a survey and realized it was not all about money. The people had so many other reasons like religion, superstition, cultural believes and ignorance about the importance of consistent treatment in the management of a child’s condition.

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The Team on their way to home visiting

This was the genesis of the OTC-COP. She joined the community nurse from the Notre Dame clinic, Sr. Esther SSND to visit communities close to the centre. They started with three communities, and there they discovered that there were four old patients who had stopped coming to the centre. the team also found a few new patients in on home visits. Saki treats the people in the community if they have neurological problem like CVA and Cerebral Palsy. Other than these, they are referred to the OTC outpatient clinic on Mondays.

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Therapy session with Aggie,  a Cerebral Palsy patient in the Adoagyiri community

According to Miss Saki,  her aims for this initiative is to educate people in the community on their treatment plan; the condition of sickness and how to manage it; also how to exercise properly. Then again, find new cases who are not treated in the community, and finally bring patients back to mainstream clinic through education, counselling and treatment. Above all, she hopes the program helps in reducing stigma attached to disability in communities through community-based rehabilitation.

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Kerri (left), a Speech and Language therapist from London comes on COP @ Sakyikrom

The community Outreach Program started about 18 months ago, and it has been very successful. As the number of communities has increased to five. People around the most visited areas are now a little conscious of the congenital deformities and we are receiving more positive response from the natives.  RIMG3508   We hope to extend to the remote parts of our municipal assembly, and save as many lives as possible.

Support a good cause like ours. Donate today!

OTC… We put people on their feet!

What a Wheelchair Can Do

wc 2Many a time we undermine the effect of certain devices in our lives. In today’s world one common effective tool of everyday life is the mobile phone. Some people are very dependent on their mobile phones for business and life.

In the world of disabilities, I will say a wheelchair for one child can do all the magic; fix the broken home; get all children into school; the mother goes back to work.  No matter how bad the child’s condition is, it can take a wheelchair to reduce the stigma on the family. Yes! One wheelchair can turn a whole family’s life around.

Here is how
Parents with children who have conditions that make it impossible to walk typically carry them on their back for long distance mobility. When the child has Cerebral Palsy it makes it even more difficult to take them anywhere. If they try to put such a child in school, some schools would not want to admit them because they become burdened by the child’s needs. Some mothers would have to stay home and dedicate their lives to taking care of their disabled children. Most of the time, the fathers are not in the picture, and the mother has more than one child. How can she provide for herself and her children when she has no job or she is unable to work as much as she needs to take care of the home?

Although wheelchair access in Ghana is a big challenge, a wheelchair for some people is everything. Wheelchair should be the last resort for people with diseases, injuries and infections that make it impossible to walk, but when all avenues fail, it is always hope for mobility and independence.

Benjey’s Case

Benjey is a 19 moDSC01317nth old baby who was born with spina bifida and two other conditions. After birth his mother run away and left him in the hospital. Benjey spent his first 8 months in the hospital, during the same period, the surgery to correct the spinal defect.
When Benjey came to OTC, he was always on people’s arms because of his condition and size. He used to cry a lot. Even at the age of one year, he looked like a 4 month old baby. Physical therapists worked but until he had a wheelchair, we did not see most of the results.

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Benjey’s pushchair donated by Farm4Life

Now he can sit independently in his wheelchair giving his caregiver and other people who used to carry him time to do other things. His neck control had gotten better he is more sociable and he cries less than before. I can say, now he is a boy thanks to his wheelchair; he has been detached from people’s arms. While he still have his defects and complications, he is still growing pretty much socially. Also, his sitting posture is getting better.

Ohenewaa’s Case

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Ohenewaa’s wheelchair and shower seat was donated by Ghana-Australia Association

Ohenewaa is a 4 year old girl with cerebral palsy. She is from a family of five.  She weighs about twice the average weight of a 4 year old. Due to her condition, her mother has to stay home and care for her. Also, sometimes when she has to come to OTC for review, Ohenewaa’s mother brings her older sister to help carry Ohenewaa when she the mother have waist and back pains.  Late last year, Ohenewaa was given a wheelchair and a shower seat. He mother was so happy. Her exact words were, “I cannot believe I will not have to carry my girl anymore, sometimes she gets tired because we are unable to manage her well. Her weight is too much!” She says she will soon send Ohenewaa to school and start work in the coming academic year.

 

 

The Impact

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Playtime@OTC

Since the only way the families of these children can get them to our centre is by carrying them on their backs, this causes pain or more pain to the children, which makes them irritable and hence making them cry a lot due to the discomfort caused  by such way of handling like in Benjey’s case.  Apart from the discomfort these children go through due to lack of this essential mobility aid, it puts the mothers who carry them on their backs at risks of developing health issues such as back and waist pain which can be disabling in the long term just like in Ohenewaa’s case.

There are many children with different conditions who will also benefit immensely from having wheelchairs tailored to their specific needs, others who do not have certain complications will also benefit from standard wheelchairs.

We cannot achieve this without your help and support through your generosity. Children dare to dream and have the opportunity to access education; mothers get their lives back, families are liberated from the pain and incarceration of such conditions.

 

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Photo Credit: Home Health Pavilion

A wheelchair will help to give independence, conserve the energies and simplify the mobility tasks which takes a tow on families of these disabled children.

An appeal to all who are reading, every monetary contribution and or wheelchair donation will go a long way to help us change the lives of these families for good, I repeat One Wheelchair Can Do All The Magic!

To all our donors, we say a big thank you for your support.

Please donate all you can to help OTC.

OTC Annual Report 2016

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2016 was another exciting year for OTC Ghana, it was full of activities. This include the college having their first matriculation; OTC making new friends like Mrs. Amissah-Arthur and the Barnes family of the Australian High Commission; and putting 5 of the children into school.

To download our 2016 annual report: click here >> (note: it may take a minute or so to download).

 

Wild Geese Delegates visits OTC

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Wild Geese rep Mr. Mauritus Bong cuts the ribbon of the new dining room

 

Wild Geese (Wilde Ganzen) is a Dutch foundation whose main aim is to fight poverty through financial support, knowledge and expertise. They always partner with other Dutch organizations that are within the country in executing projects and supporting organizations. They usually support 1/3 of every project, and are usually for small organizations and projects. In the case of OTC, they work with JAZI Foundation, our main supporters on our road to being more sustainable and self-reliant.

p1060463OTC is lucky to have Wild Geese to be the helping hand in most of our projects. The latest is the support they gave us in building a dinning and leisure room for the female amputees. Dorein Vereek and Mauritus Bong, Senior Project Office and Project officer respectively, are the delegates from Wild Geese who visited the centre. The came just in time to cut the ribbon to the newly completed and furnished dining room. p1060478Also, they visited another project they are supporting, the multipurpose hall for the Br. Tarcisius P&O Training College.

Dorein and Mauritus were very pleased to see their money been put to good use. Dorein said, ‘We feel privileged to fund the OTC projects’. They said that it was a good investment.

We invite all local and international organizations to support a good cause like OTC because, we put people on their feet.