Ghana 2009 - Day 3
Today we headed to Teshie for another distribution. We were due to be based outdoors but fortunately we were offered some shelter so we didn’t all end up with heat stroke! It was another busy day, seeing a variety of people in need of wheelchairs or walking aids. The village chiefs turned up and were there most of the day to keep an eye on things. We also seemed to acquire an audience of children, which made things even more interesting!
Mid-afternoon I was asked to go on a home visit with one of the technicians, Phil, to see a man in a village nearby who was in need of a wheelchair. By this time in the day, the only adult wheelchair we had left was missing footplates and we were unsure whether it would even be the right size for him. We took as many accessories and tools as we had with us and headed out with an interpreter to see him. The only information we had was that he was thought to be paralysed from the waist down, and we weren’t even sure if this information was accurate!
We had a fair walk to the man’s house, through tiny streets and across many open sewers. We were struck by seeing the extreme poverty the man was living in. The man’s ’house’ was a small brick-built hut, measuring no more than three by three metres. He seemed to have no furniture or possessions other than a blanket and one or two items of clothes — it was basically just a small empty room. There was no electricity or running water, and it was very stuffy and dark inside. We got him outside so we were able to assess his needs in the daylight. Although we could not be certain, from his descriptions and presentation it appeared that he may have contracted polio as a child, which had resulted in his inability to walk. He had some strength in his legs, but this was very minimal, and nowhere near enough to stand.
Despite the lack of footplates available to us, we managed to make some with the help of an extended back rest, lots of tape and cable ties. We tried bolting it on but one drill wasn’t strong enough to get through the metal and the battery on the other drill ran out! Still, we managed to get the footrests secured adequately, and 38 year old Laryea seemed very happy with his new wheelchair. It had been a challenge trying to get things right, in sweltering heat with no shade, but it was well worth it to see the smile on his face. I think for me, it definitely has to be one of the highlights of my overall trip.
Following this, we headed back to the distribution site to meet the others who were just finishing up. We then all clambered into the minibus and headed back to the hotel, with a short 20 minute stop at the beach. It was liberating to watch the beautiful sunset over the beach after what has been a very busy, challenging and yet deeply humbling day.