Yup, your question is valid. Why am I doubling up on heroes for this month’s post?
Simply because they are thematically unified – both of these women have advocated for the cause of children with disability in Ghana, when these kids with special needs were frowned upon or had no place to go. I view Efua Asibon as the modern reincarnation of Mrs. Salome François and I will attempt to explain in detail below.
Mrs. Salome Francois, is a personal hero. An amazing visionary who founded the New Horizon Special School after she discovered her first daughter Helen François, was born with cerebral palsy. But Mrs. Salome Francois was no ordinary mum. When she realized she had no place to take Helen in Ghana, because no school wanted her, she decided to set up her own special school in her personal living room, as a means of showing to the people who rejected her daughter that, her daughter was as “intelligent, talented, gifted and special”, as all those “regular” kids they would rather accept. Wow! Talk about feminine bravado!
There honestly isn’t much to say about her, except to accept the fact that many other mothers would have either wallowed in self-pity or been despondent, after having a child with disability. Rather, when you walk into Mrs. Salome François’ office, a huge poster sits on the wall behind her desk that reads “Disabled children need your support, not your pity!”
Moreover, let’s face the truth ~ It is one thing to accept that your child has a disability, but to go ahead and set up a special school in Ghana in the 80s when it was unheard of, and take on the responsibility of catering to the needs of other people’s kids with special needs, when those parents themselves, were clueless as to how to help their children – goodness gracious! We need more of such people in this world! And so, if only my meagre blogpost could concoct the sound of a gun salute to this fearless leader, and woman of substance, they would!
I have had the privilege of interacting with “Aunty Salome” as we fondly call her, because I myself have volunteered at New Horizon Special School twice, and recently led a group to Ghana, to volunteer at the New Horizon Special School (http://servingghana.wordpress.com/2013/03/16/goodbye-new-horizons/). Apart from this, this woman also happens to be one of my grandmother’s tightest buddies and so hearing from her own mouth the amount of work, prayer, effort, and courage that needed to be invested in establishing such an institution when Ghana knew none of its kind, is breathtaking and can never be encapsulated in an interview, written or oral. Thus, my choice of presenting Mrs. Francois’ story in short prose, and letting you watch the video to see for yourself the long-term effects and repercussions of a single act of bravery.
So I’m sure by now you are wondering when I will get to my second heroine for this month. Well, here it goes. In comes Efua Kumea Asibon, a 19-year old Ghanaian and first-year student at Swathmore College, with a vision, akin to Mrs. Salome François’, but with a renaissance feel that definitely embodies the phrase, “Nothing is more powerful than idea whose time has come”. Efua’s project “Dislabel” aims to raise money to “dislabel” the “label” given to children requiring special attention all over Ghana. “Dislabel” not only holds the potential to capture public and governmental attention, but also carries with it essences that can reverberate across borders into other African countries.(http://dislabelled.tumblr.com). Watch Efua’s launch of the dislabel project below and marvel at the power of youthful zeal and passion, channeled to transforming paradigms:
And of course, being the good friend I am (self-props here!), I entreat you all to donate to Efua’s cause, as you feel so led to by following this link: The DISLABELLED PROJECT BY EFUA ASIBON
I tell you again, “Nothing is more powerful, than idea whose time has come!”