Our day started dark and early at around 4am. We headed to the airport at Accra to catch our flight to Tamale. When we arrived we were all pleasantly surprised that we had escaped the humidity that we had been growing accustomed to in Accra. Unlike other regions we have visited on the trip so far, Tamale is more like what we expected Ghana to be like. We saw dry desert lands with scarce vegetation. According to George, it is common to see wild life in this more northern region of Ghana.
Our day in Tamale began by meeting one of the teachers we met at the professional development retreat in Sunyani. She took us to her special education school. Upon arrival we were graciously welcomed by the students. They crowded around us with their beautiful smiles and shook our hands to introduce themselves. We learned from the school’s headmistress that the students ranged from ages 5 to 28 years old. During our visit we had the pleasure of interacting with many of the students. One student in particular truly touched our hearts. Her name is Marta and she is about 10 years old. She walked through the tour of the school with us and went out of her way to find a couple of seats for us to sit in. Though we were moved by the students’ hospitality and kindness, it was an emotional experience to see how little resources the school had to work with. It was a lesson to not take the resources we have in the US for our students for granted.
We then visited a unit school nearby. Our goal at this school was to encourage integration and inclusion between the students in general education and special education. We worked with one 8 year old student named Mageed in the unit school who was reported to have a severe stutter. Not only were strategies provided to the student, the teacher also played an integral part in the therapy session to ensure sustainability of treatment after we leave. The student’s success during the small amount of time we spent with him and the apparent joy that it brought him inspired us to invite him and his family to dinner at our hotel to continue therapy and to educate his parents on the various techniques that were introduced to him. Our hope is that through our time working in the unit school, students in the general education as well as teachers of the school will notice the incredible potential that these students possess.
After dinner, we were joined by Mageed and his family as well as Fati, her 14 year old son, and husband. With Mageed and his family we worked on strategies introduced to him at school and ways to involve his parents in encouraging these new techniques. Fati’s 14 year old son, Muiz, had a cleft palate repaired at 8 months of age, but still experiences challenges with his speech. The students and supervisors found that with a second surgery this boy will have fantastic articulation. A great way to end the day!!
Thanks to Shannon Luckovich for the post.