Tuesday, 22 August 2017
The Ghanaian Dream - No Disabled Access

The Ghanaian Dream - No Disabled Access

By Alex Mash
ANYONE who has made his or her way through the junction between Accra’s Giffard and Airport Bypass Roads is likely

to have seen a group of disabled men making their laboured progress through the traffic, begging.
Confronting this group of all-too-human human beings are massive hulking blocks of metal rising up into the sky, with their only tenuous link to the world of humans and humanity being the tiny logos of the humanitarian charities they claim to represent - a series of jarring juxtapositions that make the reality of this voiceless community all the more despairing.
The story of just two of these men is hugely thought-provoking. Both suffer from lower limb disabilities which force them to use skateboard-esque contraptions to move around. It is highly likely that neither of these men have ever received proper medical attention or assistance, or perhaps even if their disability has ever been correctly diagnosed.
One is Mohammed from Niger, sporting a baseball cap and a worn Korean football shirt, just 21 years old. The other, Ali, from Nigeria, a bit older at 22 but looking younger, like a small child, in a hoodie too big for him hiding a boyish body underneath. He had been in Accra for two years now.
Both had left behind lives in their home countries for reasons they chose not to convey. They came to Ghana based on a belief, a belief in the generosity and goodwill of the Ghanaian people, a belief in the chance to create a proper life for themselves, one worthy of the word ‘life’. A ‘Ghanaian Dream’ of sorts of which Steinbeck would be proud.
Yet here they were surviving - just. Leading a life they openly admitted as being deeply unpleasant. Without the traditional support of family, a void into which no support organisations had stepped into, they had formed a small community amongst themselves here by the side of the road.
Dealt a cruel hand by fate and every day a crueller one by life, what is most remarkable is their thankfulness for the life they are able to lead. Thankfulness for the clothes they wear, the little they eat, the little they drink. Thankfulness for each Cedi or two they reach up to receive. Both devout Muslims their thankfulness to God, who a lesser human being would have assumed to have abandoned them, their humility before others and continued hope for a society which has excluded them at every turn are all truly awe inspiring.
Sadly though, it seems that the hope in the ‘Ghanaian Dream’ they once held is dying inside of even these two purest of hearts. For these two men after such a brief time, the ‘Ghanaian Dream’ stands inaccessible before them.
And this is through no fault of their own, or those people who are generous enough to give anything at all, no matter how small, to allow Ali and Mohammed to scrape by day after day. If blame is needed, it must be onto the country as a whole in which, for those who are physically-disabled, the ‘Ghanaian Dream’ remains inaccessible.
In their weaker moments, when Ali and Mohammed allow themselves to, they dream a new dream - to return to their homes and get a little piece of land to farm. This is the simple dream for two men who deserve far more from life than they have ever received and perhaps sadly ever will receive.

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