There is the need for the empowerment of mothers with disabled children while discouraging stigmatisation against such women, to reduce instances of depression and poverty among them.
“Caring for children or individuals with severe disabilities, especially in our part of the world comes with many problems, as some people believe that Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) are cursed and therefore associating with them or their families meant exposing oneself to bad omen, which is false.”
The founder of Women With Vision (WWV), a women and child centred not for profit organisation, Ms Sylvia Appiah made the assertion in an interview with the Ghanaian Times in Accra yesterday.
According to her,many mothers with disabled children suffered depression due to the emotional trauma they suffered in the hands of their superstitious neighbours whose cold attitudes towards them are fueled by certain traditional believes.
Explaining, she indicated that the stigmatisation against childhood related disability was often associated with women’s role in child bearing and upbringing, adding that poverty alsoplayed a role in promoting discrimination against mothers with such children.
Ms Appiahthereforecalled on individuals and institutions tomake it a priority to identify women with disabled kids and offer them both financial and psychological support.
“There are many women crying behind closed doors because of the state of their disabled wards and also because they feel neglected by some of their family members and communities at large.
“A depressed mother cannot properly take care of her children so women must be each other’s keepers. Let us look for these women, intentionally show them love and increase awareness about the fact that giving birth to a disabled baby is not a curse, this is just part of life,” she advised.
Ms Appiah noted that the case was better with women who were well to do, as such individuals were financially empowered enough to “create heaven” for their disabled children as compared to mothers in deprived areas.
Every mother, irrespective of the kind of children she bore, she said, must be seen as strong and capable, instead of just being pitied.
Ms Appiah mentioned that all that such mothers needed was empowerment and encouragement to be able to face their daily hurdles.
In furtherance, the women’s rights advocate lamented that many women had also quit their jobs and remained incapable of doing any kind of work because of the difficulty in combining other responsibilities with caring for their disabled wards.
Ms Appiah also lamented that there had been several instances where some disabled girls were defiled because their caregivers left them in the hands of the wrong people.
She therefore reiterated the need for an increase in awareness creation on issues relating to disability in children, especially in rural Ghana and the need to protect the sanity of mothers with disabled children who were seen as cursed and therefore undeserving of being shown love or respected.
Schools with conducive environments for children with disabilities, she said, must also give scholarships to needy parents to enroll their disabled wards “so that together, we can improve upon the quality of life of such children,” she added.
BY RAISSA SAMBOU