In order to achieve all we do, AfriKids regularly seeks partnership with other organisations and individuals. As part of its ongoing commitment to supporting local children with disabilities, AfriKids’ Kassena Nankana Area Programme recently worked with Cerebral Palsy Africa as part of our ongoing partnership with Community Based Rehabilitation (CBR) in Sandema. In this guest blog, trainer and paediatric physiotherapist Renate Hallett writes about her experience in Ghana teaching local health professionals, mothers and volunteers, skills and techniques to improve the lives of those in the region living with Cerebral Palsy. In an area where life is already challenging thanks to poverty and uncompromising heat among other challenges, to cope with further difficulties takes a resourcefulness that is inspiring.
In May 2014 my colleague Diane Lyle and I, both of us paediatric physiotherapists from the UK, were fortunate enough to be asked to volunteer on a training assignment in Sandema, in the far Upper East Region of Ghana for the Scottish charity Cerebral Palsy Africa in conjunction with CBM and AfriKids.
Our two week course was also supported by two Ghanaian physiotherapists, Charity Adjety from Accra and Judith Arthur from Kumasi. Its purpose was to give 21 Community Based Rehabilitation officers (CBR), special education officers and other health professionals insight and more understanding into the complexities of Cerebral Palsy (CP) and how to handle and help children with CP, how to support their families and how to include them within their communities.
A second course was run, in parallel with ours, for mothers and volunteers. They were trained to make assistive devices for their children with CP. (e.g. special supportive chairs) from cardboard using Appropriate Paper Technology (APT). Our trainees learned how such devices can make children more functional and include them in schools.
Cerebral Palsy is a condition, caused by damage to the developing brain (e.g. complications during birth, jaundice after birth or infections through meningitis or Cerebral Malaria). This damage can result in problems with movement and posture, communication, feeding/eating, seizures, learning, and behaviour. There is no cure for CP, but much can be done to help children to develop their full potential and include them into their communities, in spite of their disability. Early detection is vital and can make a big difference to the long term outcomes for children with CP.
Many of the mothers and their children with CP who attended for the daily practical sessions of the course came from the area around Sirigu and had been selected by Joe Asakibeem and William from the AfriKids team and the physiotherapy technician Joseph Luguzizing, based in Sandema and working for the Presbyterian CBR team under Maxell Akanden. The course was well attended and everybody joined in with whatever there was on offer. Much was learned, not just by the trainees and we all enjoyed working together.
Thank you to Renate for this great post, as well as the team that she worked with in Ghana and all at Cerebral Palsy Africa.