Saturday, August 23, 2008


It’s been a time for some celebrations here. In fact, it seems like there’s often a reason for a party – a new arrival, an imminent departure, a birthday, an anniversary, someone’s return, a special visitor – there’s always a reason to celebrate if you’re open to finding it. But sometimes the reason is even more special. We recently had a couple of celebrations that were like this – clearly times that were beyond the ordinary special times that call for celebrations.

Most of the children who are at the PCC (over 40 of them) have no identified family. But during the school year the number of residents increases to over 60. There are several kids who have family in surrounding villages and come to stay with us during the school year. We have a boy’s dorm and a girl’s dorm, and these seasonal kids follow the cycle of the school year – coming to join the sheltered workshop when other kids are going to begin their school terms, and returning to their homes when each school term finishes.

(PCC – or Peace of Christ Community, Operation Hand in Hand wasn’t set up to be a substitute for the families of kids with disabilities. The permanent residents all were abandoned kids with primarily intellectual/mental disabilities but many also have physical disabilities – some were found in the market and brought to us, some were abandoned in the hospital, some were referred to us from orphanages throughout the country that were unable to care for them due to their disabilities. The sheltered workshop, however, is a chance for kids with mental retardation to learn some skills, to be challenged intellectually and, at times, physically, to earn a little income, to feel dignity and to earn some respect from their families and the community. Therefore, it’s open to children with disabilities who also have families that care for them, and not just the abandoned.)

Special times for celebration include when these dormitory kids return to us, and when they have finished the school term and are about to return to their families for vacation. We just finished what is basically the last term of the school year – so it was a different kind of party. Usually the parties here take place at night, there’s drumming, dancing, some special food, cokes, cookies, etc. Because it was the end of the school year, however, this time, in addition to the night party, we went to a nearby hotel to have some chicken and rice for the kids.

We just had a second special occasion to celebrate when just a few weeks ago Ineke, the founder of PCC, received a national recognition award from the president of Ghana for her role in establishing the health insurance. Ineke has been in Ghana for over 30 years; she’s a tropical medicine specialist and a surgeon, and she founded the PCC in 1992. She was a key player in establishing a local insurance plan for the region where she was living/working several years ago. This plan became the base/structure of the National Health Insurance plan, which was implemented just a few years ago while I was living and working in Buduburam with the refugees. She and Bob, her husband, went to Accra for the award ceremony – everyone at PCC went to the TV room for 3 ½ hours. A few days after her return, there was a party celebrating Ineke and her award. The chief (who nominated her for the award) and his wife were here, many other friends from the community and colleagues were also invited. It was an evening of music, speeches, dancing, eating, picture taking and general celebration.


At 4:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So glad to see you were able to post something new to your blog. What great reasons to celebrate--and how nice that you were able to go to a hotel for what must have been a real treat for the kids.


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