On November 24th 2018, The Special Mothers Project ended the first phase of its advocacy and awareness creation campaign.
he first phase focused on advocacy through information gathering
Since the project started The Special Mothers Project has gathered information from about 500 parents mostly mothers across the whole country.
Information was gathered through the creation and use of a Whatsapp platform where parents share experiences and information, via social media on our Facebook page and our other social media platforms, through our quarterly meetings, through individuals calling directly to get information and individuals who follow up on our radio and TV appearances
Mrs Hannah Awadzi, Founder and Executive Director of The Special Mothers Project said “when I started the advocacy programme, I did not want it to focus on just me and my issues, I wanted to ascertain whether the issues or challenges I faced cut across, if not I could learn from other parents on how they have survived “
Over the years, the major issues I have identified as the major need areas include :Access to education, the lack of safe facilities where the children can be accepted for staying while parents go to work, access to information, access to general services like health care, socialization, access to professional counseling, access to peer support, access to mobility devices, inability of the parents especially mothers to work, lack of a social workforce that can support families at the household level, lack of affordable support services, lack of social support systems among others. It must be noted that all these lead to stigmatization.
The year 2018 presented The Special Mothers Project with a lot to learn in our advocacy work so I will describe 2018 as a major learning curve for the project.
We learnt among other things to stay focused on our advocacy campaign with the aim of achieving for parents or families raising children with Cerebral palsy a favorable policy statement that will enhance their lives
From our experience this year, the Special Mothers Project advocacy campaign is going to focus on enhancing the lives of families raising children with Cerebral palsy, through the provision of professional counseling services, creating a platform for parents to network and share experiences and facilitating the creation of support services and systems
Our advocacy will continue to be media based using both social media platforms and mainstream media to talk about Cerebral palsy, start conversations around various themes on Cerebral palsy and to promote Inclusion for children with Cerebral palsy.
For Year 2018, the special Mothers Project provided services for over 100 families raising children with Cerebral palsy and occasionally for parents raising children with other disabilities.
Most of the services were in the form of providing information on services available or support systems available for families in Ghana
The Project met parents every quarter, so we had meetings in January, May, August and November, all these meetings hosted resource persons who interacted and shared ideas and experiences with families.
We hosted a Research based organization Centre for Learning and Childhood Development that had done research on children with disabilities to come and share their findings with us
We hosted Dr Abena Tannor, a Physical Rehabilitation Specialist at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi, we also hosted other researchers who were doing research on children with disabilities or Cerebral palsy specifically
For the first time, parents of children with Cerebral palsy received mobility devices from Physio Net with the support of Farm4life all UK based organizations. About 24 parents benefitted from the assessment of physiotherapist from Physio Net
The Special Mothers Project also donated mobility equipment with the support of the above mentioned organizations to five educational centres that accepts children with Cerebral palsy in their facilities.
The beneficiary schools or centres were Multikids Academy, ICRF, With God Cerebral palsy Centre, Epi Centre and Sharecare
This year we answered questionnaires of about four research groups or students who are interested in researching on children with disabilities which we find helpful because the more research is done, the more knowledge increases and the hope of better policies that can enhance the lives of families raising children with Cerebral palsy.
In Year 2018 we also supported about two mothers to set up micro businesses, one started the sale of wigs, the other started the sale of water using the polytank. We raised funds on our Whatsapp platform to support this.
Some mothers on our platform had the opportunity to learn to make chairs and standing frames using the appropriate paper based technology while some mothers also benefitted from free appropriate paper based chairs and standing frames
Some parents continue to access the free therapy sessions organized by Multikids Academy every Wednesday.
We adopted Kobina Acquah a 14 year old boy with a neurological disorder who had lost her mother and was left with a 90 year old grandmother to care for him. As an intervention we brought Kobina to a boarding facility in Accra, Impact Care and Rehabilitation Foundation (ICRF) where he currently stays and is being trained to acquire self help skills.
The Special Mothers Project was active in the media, we were given an opportunity to speak on major radio and TV stations on Cerebral palsy issues, our Facebook page Special Mothers Project in Ghana is very vibrant, we maintained our Twitter, LinkedIn account, started a YouTube channel and an Instagram account
The Special Mothers Project has started providing professional cyber counseling services and where necessary face to face counseling for parents.
The project also organized a training seminar for persons interested in venturing into Entrepreneurship in the special needs world, the aim of the training was to facilitate the creation of support services and systems in Ghana as well as a workshop for selected media personnel
The Project participated in various special needs related programmes, among them the Special Education Needs Fair, Inclusive Education Forum by the British Council and other government programmes on disabilities.
The Special Mothers Project was one of three organizations selected by the Department for International Development (DFID) UK in Ghana to participate in the Global Disability Summit held in July 2018
The Special Mothers Project also benefitted from the benevolence of the Ghana International schools Parents Teachers Association (GISPTA) when they organized a fund raiser to support our activities
Our theme for the year 2019 is Changing the Narrative, we will organize a Special Needs Parenting Summit in March next year on the Theme. The aim is to change how society see parents or families raising children with disabilities
In 2019 we will be creating awareness and doing advocacy through information sharing, we will share the information gathered through the organization of workshops, information seminars and presentations for various stakeholders groups
We also want to continue to empower especially mothers to desist from exploiting their situations but to rather look for opportunities to help themselves and help others by being creative and taking the lead in the creation of support services and systems
In 2019, we will continue with advocacy, we hope to organize seminars and workshops and training sessions for various stakeholders including staff the Department of social welfare, the National Commission for Civic Education, students studying rehabilitation, medical and health professionals and students, parents and other interested groups
We realize that awareness creation is key and will continue to create awareness through the media and with the programmes we organize. The project wish for a consistent air time on radio to discuss issues such as special needs parenting, Inclusive Education, policy framework and use that as an opportunity for parents to share their peculiar stories with the aim of influencing policy decisions
We will also welcome any platform that gives us an opportunity to create awareness, start conversations and make policy suggestions and proposals on Cerebral palsy
In 2019, the Special Mothers Project hopes to start a centre that focuses on promoting inclusion especially among children aged five years and below through recreation. The centre will provide the counseling services to parents, facilitates the creation of support services and systems, provide a platform for networking among parents via the programmes we organize and engage in media advocacy.
Some of the challenges we face is parents reluctance to share their stories through the media, many will usually say, they are not comfortable and thus “leave issues to God “
Some parents on the other hand exploit their situation and always present a very pitiful side of their stories with the hope of getting handouts or donations from the public. Usually such parents resist any communication about policy change by simply saying it’s impossible
Funding remains a big challenge, we pay for space for our meetings, we refresh members and participants that attends our meetings, fuel and transportation cost is huge, most of our meetings and activities we give a live Facebook update and later YouTube and the cost of Internet data keeps increasing. we need a budget for our media activities and all these is only achieved if parents or some philanthropist come to our aid.
Funding is the biggest hindrance to executing our advocacy programmes.
We can never thank the media enough for the tremendous support we enjoy from them, the Ghana News Agency, the Finder Newspaper, Daily Graphic, Ghanaian Times, Multimedia Group, EIB Media Network, Public Agenda Newspaper, Media General, Modern Ghana online, Okay FM, may I at this point mention Mr Elvis Darko, Editor of the Finder Newspaper, who has given us awesome support from the beginning. TV3, GBC radio and TV, TV Africa, Otec FM
We are grateful to the Shop N Save supermarkets, they provided refreshments for most of our meetings, the Heartbeat Music crew, Eugenus Foundation, the Ghana International schools PTA for choosing us to raise funds for us. Mr Ghosh Osei, he helped with IT, Mr Ebenezer Asomaning, our website designer
Ms Sylvia kissi- Appouh is the mother who initiated the move to apply for mobility equipment for the parents on the project, Bless You Sylvia. Gifty Iddrissu was very helpful during the first half of the year and I am grateful, we enjoyed the fundraising skills of Mrs Ellen Otoruku, I can not mention all the over 150 parents I engaged with this year but they all make the Special Mothers Project what is it.
Our fulfillment is to see a family raising a child with Cerebral palsy smile because they were able to access support in one way or the other for their child
Vee Agyare Nelson, Founder of Stepping Stones Foundation, another organization doing something
commendable, supported our Training Seminar
We continue to count on the support of individuals and organizations to make our programmes and ideas a reality.
You may support us by donating to The Special Mothers Project, ADB, Ring Road Central
Branch – 1011010126145301(Swift code ADNTGHAC) Or
GN Bank, Adentan Branch – 1024122400001 or our
Mobile money account 0549114870