There is always no joy in the eyes of a woman watching her children still in a cradle and cannot run errands for her nor work because they are physically challenged.
It is even worse seeing her growing child suddenly from adolescent back to a toddling age because of unexplainable circumstances.
The old adage says “The old woman looks after the child to grow its teeth and the young one in turn looks after the old woman when she loses her teeth.”
The predicament of the NSohs
In the case of Madam Janet Nsoh, 65 from Yorogo –Gaabiisi, her daily routine as a mother and widow of two daughters with multiple disabilities, her only hope is from God and benevolence of people.
Her daughters; Paulina Aboosi aged 35 years suffered an unknown ailment at the age of 15 years, which led the strong and energetic daughter to become physically challenged and for the past twenty-five years remained in that situation coupled with a mental condition and speech defects.
According to her, the third born who is also the second daughter Ayine Abose, now 30 years is also in similar condition as Paulina.
According to her, before Ayine’s condition, she was a lively and hardworking girl who liked to sing when she attended church service.
Madam Janet Nsoh, in an interview with GNA, said a man took an undue advantage of Ayine and got her pregnant at the age 15 years and according to her Ayine’s predicament struck after she delivered off Blessing, her 11-year-old daughter and has since not been able to walk, nor make a meaningful speech or even been able to identify who made her pregnant.
Ayine Aboosi on her wheelchair
Narrating how her other two sons died, she said her first son died before age two and the second son before Ayine who grew to become a carpenter and only pillar who provided the support to lift and carry her two daughters on their wheel chairs when they needed help died nine months ago.
Madam Janet engages in petty trading particularly frying bean cakes known as ‘koose’ and plantain at the Bolgatanga old market as source of income to care for her daughters and grandchild.
She told the GNA she was advised by people to go to the Department of Social welfare considering the predicament of her daughters, where she did with Ayine and Paulina for help for them.
She said the department supported them with a wheelchair and money, to procure a deep freezer, where she sells water to care for the daughters. While her church and friends occasionally extended some charity to them.
The 2010 Population and House Census defines persons with disability? as “those who were unable to, or were restricted in the performance of specific tasks/activities due to loss of function of any part of the body and mind as a result of impairment or malformation.” Thus, by this definition, the 2010 PHC enumerated persons with multiple and severe impairments living in especially difficult circumstances; and alternatively referred to them as the “sick”.
Ghana’s Disability Act defines a disabled person in Article 59 as ‘an individual with physical, mental or sensory impairment including visual, hearing or speech which gives rise to physical, cultural or social barriers that affect one or more of the major life activities of that individual’.
Though the country has made commitment to protecting the rights of disabled people and empowering them for full social participation in their lives, there are still many challenges, and worse of it is the continuous social stigma, social exclusion and discrimination with socio-cultural factors caused even by family members who isolate themselves from them.
The combination of conditions and challenges of Paulina and Ayine cannot be over emphasized as their inability to perform any tasks compromised their ability to observe personal hygiene increasing other risk factors such as environmental.
Paulina and Ayine who also have mental disabilities are unable to make meaningful speeches among others hence making them more vulnerable.
According to Paulina and Ayine’s mother, she is unable to buy sanitary pads, when the two girls menstruate and so uses rags to prevent them from soiling themselves. Above all, “they are unable to go out by themselves nor say it when they want to defecate, and so they soil themselves and daily I have to clean them up as well as lift them out of the room for their baths every morning before going to work and in the evening before carrying them into bed”. Madam Janet said.
Plight of a mother
Age is no more a good friend to the elderly-looking woman who has been through same drudgery over the years. “I am no longer strong and I am tired now”. She noted.
The daily hustle of how the daughters are brought out from the room on her back.
In a worried state, madam Janet said one of her two mudroom structures had almost caved, due to the rains creating leakage from the roof of the room and she has no money to renovate the room.
‘My late son who started to mould some cement blocks to rebuild his room were lying idle and I cannot do anything because of the wherewithal ‘. She said.
She called on government, philanthropic organizations and individuals to come to her aid to rebuild her room, to protect her surviving two daughters with multiple disabilities.
Department of Social Welfare and the disability fund.
The Disability Common Fund (DCF) is a social protection programme instituted by government aimed at alleviating poverty among persons with disabilities. The limited resources received by regional departments in Ghana to pursue variety of interventions for beneficiaries which include procurement of assistive devices, awareness creation, payment of school fees of dependents and assisting beneficiaries to access healthcare among others continue to be a challenge considering the disability population in Ghana.
Mostly these departments receive funds in long overdue arrears.
The Municipal Director, MS Mercy Pwavra of the Department of Social welfare in Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region in an interview said Paulina and Ayine were listed for support after the mother visited them in 2015.
Ms. Pwavra said a total of Three thousand Ghana Cedis (GH¢3,000.00) of different cheques of GHC 1,500 were paid to the beneficiaries as part of support for the mother to take care of Paulina and Ayine and upon request of their mother, a deep freezer was purchased for her to sell sachet water and proceeds used for their upkeep.
Ms. Pwavra said the girls also received two wheelchairs on which Paulina’s mother prepares and leaves them on while attending to her customers and drives them home when she closes in the evening.
According to the Municipal Director, more than 200 applications for 2020 were still in the pipeline awaiting such similar support.
She said in February 2021 the department received 17,330.18 for the third quarter of 2020 whilst the fourth quarter of last year was not received.
In the first quarter the department received GH¢21,943.94 whilst the second quarter, an amount of GH¢21,035.75 was received for disbursements.
Apart from supporting umbrella disability groups, the association of the deaf in the Municipality also received support of GH¢2, 250.00 from receipts in the second quarter allocations, while 43 individual PWDs were supported for various expansion of their businesses and activities.
She said the third quarter allocation was 17,330.18 which was spent also in areas such as health, education among others.
Though there are positive impacts of the disability fund on its beneficiaries, the population of PWDs and their needs continue to burden the funds received.
Regional departments do not receive funds on time and this renders the department incapacitated and unable to provide the needed support when the requests come to their doors.
For recipients like Paulina and Ayine, their needs are more than just received because their mother is aged now and like other PWDs there are more who have not even heard of these interventions and therefore it is recommended that the fund be increased and disbursed on time for other applicants to benefit, DSW be capacitated to carry out sensitization activities in communities to support more PWDs.