Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Gifty with Mawuuya, a pupil at the school
My name is Ayine Rafiatu Gifty. I am from Bolgatanga, in the Upper East Region of Ghana. I am 22 and I am an International Service volunteer with the Yumba Special School Project.  In this blog I am going to tell you about my experience of working on the project.

For project I was given the role of researching into local experts in the area of learning difficulties and mental health. The project needed to undertake this research because the pupils at the school are un-diagnosed and lack medical support. With the appropriate diagnosis and support the children will be healthier, but also the teachers will be more able to specialise their lessons to the pupils' abilities.
Initially i was not happy with having to work on this area because I thought it was going to be impossible to achieve anything in this area. First, I thought it would be hard to find any experts. Secondly, the school cannot afford to pay for any medical support, which I felt would put off the experts. I went to my team leader to ask if he could give me a different area to work on,  but he said no. He told me that he had chosen me for a reason and believed that I could achieve my goals and that it would help me learn new skills.

I then started to do my research. I found two experts from Accra and Kumasi, named Dr.Akwesi Amppong and Dr. Belly Rocks. However, our contact did not work because they wouldn't provide support to the pupils for free. I became so frustrated that week that i nearly gave up!
The next week we went to Yumba to visit the children and one of the children had a cut on his leg and was seriously bleeding. There was a very limited amount of First Aid equipment to treat him. My team leader though was able to help him clean and bandage the wound. I was so hurt  that i could not even stand and watch them help the boy. So i had to leave the place and go back to the class room. But when I got there I found that some of the children were lying down. I asked one of the teachers, called Mr. Paul, why they were lying on the floor and he said they were not feeling well. This made me very sad but determined to change this situation. So i continued with the research. Fortunately, I heard about a psychiatrist, who specialises in learning disability, at the Tamale Teaching Hospital. When I went to visit him the nurses refused to let me see him. I came back to the office and was very quiet and didn't want to talk to anyone because I was very sad. I arranged with Mr Paul and my team leader to go back and try again the next week. Fortunately, this time he agreed to meet us. At the meeting there were three of us from the Yumba Project and 20 people from Dr Soori's department, which was quite intimidating. We introduced ourselves to him and told him about our mission and the schools needs. We proposed that he come to the school to see the children and consider whether he could provide support. He agreed and visited the school two days later. When he visited the school he met the children, and I was amazed to see him already start diagnosing the children. We had a private meeting with him and told him that we could not afford to cover his costs. He astonished us all when he said that the teaching hospital would fund:

  • Weekly visits of his nurses to the school to attend to the children
  • medication for the children
  • regular reports on the medical progress of the children. 
Dr Soori has agreed to commence this work during the first week of February 2015, and in the meantime we can contact him if there is an emergency with the children.

Dr Soori and his Nurses with Yumba Staff and International Service volunteers after agreeing to work with Yumba

The Impact on me

Meeting Dr.Soori is a great memory that can never get out my mind and whenever i think about it, it gives me joy. Especially the day that he visited the school with his team of nurses. It was so sweet! I was overwhelmed when he accepted our proposal because the children of Yumba lives are going to be changed for the better!

The experience has taught me how to be appreciative in life in general and also how to love and care about people especially the disabled. The work has turned me into an aspiration lady.I feel a lot more confident. I have a greater awareness that i can make major achievements.  I now know that i am strong woman, who has the respect of her peers. Until working on this project I did not know what am capable of but i have now realised that i have the skills to change the lives of people around me.

This work has also spurred me on to going back to school and try to study nursing so that I can continue to change the lives of those in need.

Thank you for reading my story, love Gifty.

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