Imagine a family made up of six siblings. Five of the six siblings are disabled. They are crippled with speech impairment. Their mom died from frustration and the father is nowhere in sight. Their aunt has three children of her own. She does not have a regular source of work. In addition to her three children, she now takes care of her sister’s.
This is not the script of an African movie, nor is it a blurb on a book on a dusty bookshelf, it is the reality of life; the life Rebecca Asantewaa is faced to confront each day. Rebecca’s sister had died 11 years before, most probably of frustration. According to Vincent who is the only one without a disability, the mum passed away after an ailment. He says she had persistent headaches, most probably thinking too much about why she will have six children with five of them being crippled and suffering from speech impairment.
The story of Rebecca came to public notice when Vincent Acquah, her nephew, nominated her as someone he felt was doing an extraordinary thing in his live and that of his siblings, and deserved the support being offered by Airtel Ghana through their corporate social responsibility initiative, Touching Lives. Airtel had asked the public in October 2011 to submit an essay explaining why someone they knew was doing great things for their families, communities and humanity in general. The company will then review such essays and select people they can help. Vincent’s essay was assessed, and the research team were themselves touched when they met the family.
In Rebecca’s episode which was aired on TV, Vincent asks himself, ‘how can a human being make such sacrifice?’ in reference to her Auntie who has had to abandon her work and is now solely taking care of the six siblings, her own children and their grandmother. It is particularly a herculean task especially if one considers the fact that the five disabled siblings require assistance to eat, bath, attending to nature’s call. All the things a physically and mentally fit person can do, they require help to do.
Luckily for Rebecca though, her worries seem to have ended with Airtel’s support. The telecommunication giant has offered her and her nephews and indeed her whole family support which includes clothing, wheelchairs, creative learning aides, a provision store and a visit to a specialist centre for the siblings.
What comes across from watching Rebecca’s story (story can be seen on YouTube by searching “Airtel Touching Lives Episode 1”) is the sad situation some people find themselves in. One clear message that hits viewers is the fact that no matter how precarious one’s situation is, others are going through worse, so we should be appreciative of what we have all the time and say thanks to the bearded old man above always.
PO: Thursday March 15, 2012