This book has been of great use to our research despite being rather romanticised and fantastical, much attributed to Coetzee's style of writing. However, it has effectively conveyed the theme of care, concern and love required the physically disabled as seen from the main character, Paul Rayment. In spite of his initially withdrawal, Rayment also gradually learns how to accept life, fate and also the urge of being loved and loving someone.
In understanding more about the causes of a person being wheelchair ridden, we acquired this book from Muscular Dystrophy Association of Singapore (MDAS) to find out more specifically about that. The book also included information on how to cope with Muscular Dystrophy patients.
Movie Review - “Emmanuel’s Gift”
Case Study of Disability in Ghana
Directed by Lisa Wax and Nancy Stem
If one is disabled in Ghana, he is likely to be kept at home most of his lifetime, poisoned, or left in the forest to die. “Emmanuel’s Gift” documents about Emmanuel, a young adult who is disabled since birth and how he managed to single handedly influence the people of Ghana into accepting the disabled by cycling across the country with just one leg. His efforts are remarkable due to the fact that Ghana’s society is affected by the republic’s detrimental culture of dealing with the disabled.
10 percent of Ghanaians are disabled. That amounts to at about 2 million are physically disabled in an approximated population of 20 million. Compare this to about 4 percent in the USA. In this case, those who need help in their daily activities like bathing, moving around and dressing are considered disabled.
The constitution of Ghana in 1992, under Article 29(4) provides that "Disabled persons shall be protected against all exploitation, all regulations and all treatment of discrimination, abusive or degrading nature”. It is a framework drawn up to protect the basic rights of the disabled. However, at the time when the documentary was filmed 2005, there has not been any laws that is friendly with the disabled. The disabled in Ghana was still treated like junk, a behavior largely influenced by culture there. It is believed that children with disabilities are a result of past transgression by their ancestors and is considered a curse to their families. To them, keeping a disabled child in the family would bring about bad luck and adversity.
About Emmanuel Yeboah
Emmanuel Yeboah Ofosu was born on 5th May 1977, in Ghana, West Africa. Unfortunately, he was born without his right shin bone, a deformation which deemed his right leg useless. Ashamed by his son’s disability, Dickson Kwadjo Ofosu, abandoned his family ruthlessly.
Emmanuel’s mum, Comfort Yeboah, was encouraged by relatives and friends to kill Emmanuel but the loving mother blessed her son with a chance to live. Emmanuel was an active child and an extrovert (give examples) who seldom allowed his disability to hinder his desire to do what he likes. He would prove to others that though he is disabled, he is not unable to do things. One simple illustration of his perseverance took place when he was in primary school. Emmanuel’s friends refused to include him in their soccer games as he was on crutches. However, he soon came up with a solution to save up and to buy a ball of his own so that he could loan it out to others, on the simple condition that he has to be included in the game.
When Emmanuel was about 13, he had to leave school to support the family as his mother fell ill. He went to Accra, the capital city of Ghana, where he polished shoes just to earn US$2 a day. Over there, he witnessed for himself the sorrowful plight of many disabled people, many of whom had to rough it out on the streets begging for coins.
Comfort Yeboah passed away on Christmas Eve 1997, leaving behind a life changing learning lesson for Emmanuel that being disabled does not mean inability. That was his motivation for the years to come. He had the idea of riding a bike with one leg, few hundred kilometers across Ghana to raise the awareness for the disabled and ultimately to eradicate discrimination against the disabled. He started off by writing a letter to the California based Challenged Athletes Foundation, CAF, requesting for a mountain bike. Impressed by his goal, the CAF generously provided him a mountain bike along with the necessary equipment.
Determined he was, Emmanuel managed to complete the long and grueling journey across Ghana, a feat which many able bodied persons would not even think of accomplishing. The news of his endeavor was aired on radio and printed in newspapers, shooting him to fame even before he completed the challenge.
A year later, Emmanuel was invited to San Diego to participate in a triathlon where he met Jim MacLaren, a well known double amputee athlete. A Close affiliate of CAF, the renowned Loma Linda Medical Centre, came to know about Emmanuel’s condition and proposed that he undergo evaluation to see if he is suitable for a prosthetic leg. Emmanuel was eligible and the medical centre offered to cover all expenses of the costly procedure. This was in April 2003.
Ever since Emmanuel had his prosthetic leg, he was more confident about himself and persevered to fight for the rights of the disabled. In November 2003, Emmanuel was invited back to the United States to receive the Casey Martin Award along with $25 000 cash. The CAF generously topped it up with another $25000, making it a total of $50 000.
Emmanuel decided to use the money to empower other disabled youths by awarding them scholarships for education or sports development. The presentation was held at the Palace of the King of Ghana and this invitation is a significant development in Emmanuel’s dream of a society which embraces the disabled as no disabled person has ever been invited to the palace.
The King of Ghana is more influential then the law makers in Parliament. Thus the appeal by him to the people of Ghana will change what people think and believe.
“The society and country are not set up to take care of handicapped people. Emmanuel has tenacity, endurance and he has a strong heart to do the things that he is doing and to use what he has done as an example for other disabled people. We will support him and tell the government that they are also part of us – they may be physically challenged, but mentally and intellectually, they are the same as us.” – King Osagyfuo Oforipanin II (excerpt from Emmanuel’s Gift website)
Putting things into Perspective
Many of us living in developed countries are apathetic about the sufferings of those living in developing countries. Do you know that many disabled people in places like Ghana cannot even afford a basic wheelchair? In fact, not all of them earn enough to enjoy three meals a day.
If you think that spending big bucks on the latest entertainment gadget is value-for-money, why not go for something cheaper at a fraction of the price? They amount of money you save up has the potential to change the lives of many individuals out there (if you use it for this cause of course). That is real value for money.