“You should go see the girl in a basket,” said one of the members of the parents' self-help group as Carrie was working with the group in the village of Abutia Teti.  When Carrie arrived at the house, she met Mawunyo sitting in a blue plastic laundry basket placed in a dark room.  Mawunyo, 17 years old, had been born with cerebral palsy, leaving her with very little use of either her arms or legs.  The basket allowed her to sit without falling over.   However, it meant that she spent much of her time at home with little to do.  Nevertheless, Mawunyo is an outgoing girl who loves to listen to the people around her, and she learned a great deal just by paying attention to her surroundings. 

Mawunyo and her mother:  This is the only way that Mawunyo’s family could take her from one place to another before she received her wheelchair.

Kekeli began to work with Mawunyo.  First, she was assessed to determine what could be done to help her, especially in ways that would provide her with some education.  But to go to school, Mawunyo would need a wheelchair.  APF Ministries, Tema, agreed to donate a wheelchair, and Mawunyo was measured and fitted for the chair.  

She beamed with joy the first time she was placed in the wheelchair.

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A wheel chair would be of limited use if she could not get it in and out of her house, so the next step was to build a ramp to her house.

But Mawunyo’s dream is to go to school, and Kekeli’s goal is to make that happen.  Mawunyo has been measured for her school uniform and is waiting for the seamstress to finish it.  Ask Mawunyo “what is your favorite thing to do?” and her reply is always “Go to school!”—even though she hasn’t attended school yet.

Getting to this point has not been a quick or easy task.  Kekeli has had to earn the trust of Mawunyo’s parents and family, work with the local school and its teachers as well as the Ministry of Education, seek funds to pay for the wheelchair, the ramp, an aide to assist Mawunyo, the cost of her uniform and school fees-----and wait for all the pieces to come together.

Mawunyo's First Day of School

Ford and I met Mawunyo at home before she was to go to school. She was relaxing in her wheelchair when we arrived, and was happy with her decision that she would NOT go to school.

Ford talked to Mawunyo about why she changed her mind about school. She cried but Ford talked to her and she began to feel better.

Ford and Mawunyo are very happy - she has decided to go to school but will not wear the uniform. We agreed!

Mawunyo's mother is helping her down the ramp. Mawunyo's father, Ford, Elvis, and a young woman, Bernice, who will be tutoring Mawunyo, went with her to school. I was busy taking photos every step of the way. 

Ford shows Mawunyo's father and Elvis the road we want her to take to school. This part of the road is still a problem. Most of it has been washed away due to the recent rain. We are discussing possible options to make it smoother and safer for Mawunyo.

Mawunyo, Ford and Elvis on a better part of the road. 

Mawunyo's arrival at school.

Ford taking Mawunyo to her class. Mawunyo will start in Primary 1 and we will see how she does.  

Mawunyo and the students' first meeting. A great chance to talk about inclusion to the children, and Mawunyo’s teacher discussed this with the class. 

Class begins and Mawunyo was very interested. We left Mawunyo in class at this point to let the teacher work with the students. As we waited outside, we could hear Mawunyo talking, asking questions, and telling her classmates to KEEP QUIET!

When they went on break we learned that the teacher made Mawunyo the class prefect. Mawunyo was also asked to introduce herself and she told the class that her name is Jennifer. Her family never gave her a Christian name, so we are not sure where this name came from, but now her classmates call her Jennifer.   

Mawunyo on break watching the other children at the school. 

On the way back to Mawunyo's house everyone was asking where she went. Mawunyo proudly told everyone that she went to school and she will go again tomorrow. It was truly a wonderful day.