Friday, May 12, 2006

Adjuah is 19 years old. She's not a Liberian refugee - she's a Ghanaian who lives in Buduburam. Before Buduburam was a refugee camp, it was other things. One of those things was a Ghanaian village. Adjuah used to live there with her mom, but now she lives there alone. Her mother has moved back to the family village - about a 15 minute drive from Buduburam, through the cemetary, and on into the bush. Adjuah is deaf, and from what we understand has always been deaf. Until 2 years ago, she had never been sent to school. I think that once again the attitude towards people with disabilities is that they'll never amount to anything, never be able to do anything, etc. - so why waste our resources on sending them to school.

So, Adjuah ends up being a young adult woman, living pretty much alone on the refugee camp, uneducated, and very minimally capable of communication. Fortunately, the founder of the school for the deaf met her and encouraged her to attend the school. She was quick to pick up sign language - at least imitation of the signs. It's taking her more time to make the connection of actually using these to communicate, but it's coming along.

Adjuah lives alone on the camp, and sometimes comes to school complaining of fights she's gotten into, of how some people have treated her, and of being forced into sex. Concerned for her safety, we tried to get her into a boarding school for the deaf. But no one would accept her due to her age and her lack of education. So, she has stayed on the camp, and has continued to attend our school.

When the school year started in 2004, Adjuah started to show up at school with a little girl about 2 1/2 years old or so. Over time, we came to learn this was her daughter. And we began to see, and to hear from her neighbors, concerns about how Adjuah was taking care of the daughter. Then one day Adjuah came to school extremely upset, and through her tears we found out her daughter had disappeared. Her neighbors told us that they thought her mother had come for the girl - so we took Adjuah and went to the mother's village to find out if she knew anything about the situation. And it turned out that she had gone to visit Adjuah, but instead found the little girl alone in the room. She waited awhile, but Adjuah didn't return. So, she took the girl back to the village.

Adjuah felt better knowing her daughter was safe, and agreed that it would be better for the little girl to stay in the village.

Just this past February, Adjuah was coming to school feeling very tired and nautious a lot of the time. We helped her get to the clinic, where we found out that what we suspected was in fact true. She was pregnant again. It was agreed that she'd continue going to school as long as she was able to, however, after a few weeks she was no longer attending and we didn't know where she was. Eventually, we learned she'd gone to stay with her father in Accra.

Then, mid-April she showed up again. She was struggling, not eating well or keeping too clean. So, we went with her to her village to help discuss with her family what to do to help Adjuah and her unborn baby at this time. After much discussion, it was agreed by all that Adjuah would go back to Buduburam and prepare her things and later that day a family member would come for her to bring her back to the village.

Moments after we started to drive back it became clear that Adjuah wasn't happy with this. And we all agreed. The water supply in the village is, if we're being generous, best described as a deep shade of murky. Food supplies were minimal. Medical care was far. So, when we got back to the camp, we went to another student's house - a friend of Adjuah's who has helped her out in the past. She and her famly have agreed to take Adjuah into their home, to help guide her and take care of her through this time. We are using some of the donations we receive to help the family to provide food and meet other needs Adjuah has while she is with them. We think the baby is due sometime in July or August - I'll keep you posted.

At the end of the 5 or 6 hours spent going up and down, working out a solution for Adjuah's well-being, time spent with the headmaster, two of Adjuah's teachers, the head of the PTA and a few others who were interested in Adjuah's well-being, I was touched deeply by the commitment and concern being shown for this young woman. These were all Liberian refugees sacrificing a lot of time and energy for a Ghanaian. It's time that also went, in another way, to encourage me.


At 2:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great story, Steve
Steve Price

At 4:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Impressive story Steve

Dear Editor,

I am a Liberian deaf male. I was once an instructor at the J & j Learning Center for the Deaf where you are currently working. I'm currently residing in the United States, specifically, Pennsylvania.

As I probed through internet browser, I came across your profile and information posted. It was very interesting, especially, the one relating to the Ghanaian deaf girl Adjuah.

Her condition is critical from what I used to see. I never thoght she would still have being along the line with the rest of the deaf at J&J Deaf Center.

Well, let me extend my appreciation to you for your efforts and that of the administrative staffs at the deaf center. Their efforts is actually appareciated.

Through 'favorable-some' and 'trouble-some' times, they are still devoting their time, energy, and even resources to the well-being of the deaf.

From my previous destionation, I'm still in the college taking up a career that would serve a fundemental purpose for us (The Deaf Center) tomorrow. My current major is: Human Health Behavioral Science.

The need of working as a socail worker is vital, especially, in areas where the need is greater, like Ghana and few others African countries.

Once again, my heartfelt thanks and apprecaiton to you and the administrative staffs of the J & J Learning Center for the Deaf. We anticipate the day, we'll be in the position to render our interpersonal skills and financial support to the Deaf Center.

Untill that day, we all hope to continue the hard fight without let-up. I hope this comment meets you in good condition and that of administartive staff at the Deaf Center.

Please extend my warmest love and best wishes to the entire administartive staffs at J & J Center for the Deaf.

At 11:58 AM, Blogger steve said...


I arrived just after you left the camp. I've always heard good things about you and wish you all the best as you complete your studies. Please stay in touch - feel free to email me - it would be great to meet you one day when I return.



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