THE NEW NORMAL; A JOURNEY INTO THE UNKNOWN FOR A 3RD WORLD DISABLED CHILD

Covid-19 wrecked and continues to cause havoc in nations all around the world. 

The virus caught many nations by surprise particularly those whose healthcare systems were not adequately resourced to handle such pandemics. As the unpopular but “perhaps necessary” lockdown measures were taken across the world by many governments, its impact is not carefully assessed and cases of many who struggled with no support continue to slip through all social intervention nets unnoticed.

As if that’s is not enough, there’s been global school shutdowns which do not make sense particularly in African countries who had the least of infections due to what scientists described as the viruses’ short survival period to weather differentials. This argument suggest that the virus survives longer in a cold environment than the warm therefore school shutdown in countries like Ghana was very unfathomable. 


For a disabled child living in Africa whose plight was already in a precarious situation, such stringent measures particularly school shutdowns could not be worse enough. It means cut off from many life line support such as free school meals, socialising for mental well-being, getting recognition to maximise full potential, seeking knowledge which acts as a lasting enabler in their challenging environment, missing out of some form of “social protection” and most importantly, tearing apart their safety net against disabled children’s vulnerability to possible social shocks to name but a few.

The obvious question is; have we thought of the ripple effects of the absence of these support mechanisms to the disabled child in the 3rd world whose vulnerability pre-COVID-19 time was beyond measure? My response is no because I’m yet to see any signs, but even if we have, the evidence is not assuring enough in places such as Ghana where although the government seems to be doing well for education but at the expense of the majority of disabled children.

With COVID-19 showing no sign of disappearing anytime soon until an effective vaccine is found, I regret to say that the above stringent “but necessary “measures will be the “new normal.” This is what disabled children in those part of the world such as Ghana are dreading; a journey into the unknown where there’s little or no support, hope nor voice. Parents of such vulnerable children have lost faith in an environment and systems which promise hope but deliver hopelessness. This couldn’t be a nightmare enough for every parent with a disabled child.

As an organisation with a prime focus on disabled children education, REACT will continue to provide a voice for these voiceless souls for we know that the world will be a better place if societies provide for all regardless of once disabilities. Although the demand for our services have increased during these pandemic times, REACT have never reneged on our promises to these wonderful but often neglected children. REACT will continue to Relieve disabled children of stigma, Educate them in the process, Advance their wellbeing, Cater for their specific needs and ultimately help Turn disabilities into abilities through education. We will strive to deliver specific projects in times of need such as our “COVID-19 Emergency Response“ which provided a lifeline to some of the most vulnerable households by kind courtesy of SAGE Publishing.

                                                Video of project:                          


As the world celebrates the UN day for Persons with physical Disabilities; a day which also marks our 4th Anniversary, REACT’s advocacy message to all policy makers of 3rd world countries such as Ghana and well-meaning inhabitants of this planet is that we need to acknowledge “the death of the old and reinvent ourselves to embrace the birth of the new” by accepting the new challenges that COVID-19 presents and face them pragmatically.

Let us remember that If all physical hope and help are lost due to the unknown trajectory , then expect that people will continue to dwell in the potency of the spiritual deities and call on them in-times of need. The consequences though, could be more risky than otherwise. I will therefore implore all reasonable people around the world who can and are capable of influencing positive change in the lives of these vulnerable souls to act with due diligence because to whom much is given, much is expected. Besides, “the benefit of power today.. is power tomorrow” so let’s not destroy today’s harvest and expect fresh crop tomorrow when we’ve not sowed the seed for it.

As an organisation with a right-based approach to everything we do, it’s worth reminding us all that the welfare and wellbeing of every vulnerable child is an inalienable right. It’s also worth remembering that “today’s human rights abuses are tomorrow's human problems." Nothing justifies neglect. As we mark our 4th birthday, it’s our humble appeal that you all help REACT to light the darkest of path for disabled children as they embark into the post COVID-19 unknown.

Lastly, I will pay tribute to companies such as SAGE Publishing (https://uk.sagepub.com/en-gb/eur) , Ofie-Direct shipping (https://ofiedirect.com/), Usborne Books@Home UK (https://usborne.com/gb/organiser/bookshoponthehill?organiserCode=1a14e4bf3d8e631120b1cf9027879098) , Book Aid International, TechCamp UK https://www.techcamp.org.uk/ , Steve’s IT designs and Production Ghana, Big Yellow Oxford; https://www.bigyellow.co.uk/oxford-self-storage-un... and all other corporate and individuals who in diverse ways have supported REACT in our quest to ensure the dreams of disabled children become a reality. We say a BIG THANK YOU!

Long live REACT and happy International day of Persons with Disabilities.

Thank you.

Author: PRINCE OSEI AKOWUAH
Prince is the founder and director of REACT Humanitarian Network, a UK registered Non-governmental organisation that helps make education accessible to disabled children in the most vulnerable communities in Ghana and beyond.

Contact:
Website: https://www.rhncharity.org/
Mobile: +44 7949915547, Email: poakowuah@rhncharity.org
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/REACTHUMANITARIANNETWORK
Twitter: https://twitter.com/PRINCEOSEIAKOW1
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/11063341/admin/

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