For many physically challenged, it is a daily struggle to even survive and fend for themselves but for Louisa Enyonam Ansah, her survival is secondary to the survival and happiness of other physically challenged, especially children.
For more than two decades, Madam Enyonam, as she is usually referred to in the community of Nsawam-Otoase in the Greater Accra, has given hope and a future to many children who hitherto would have become beggars or society’s failures.
As a teacher and through her Enyonam Short Foundation, which is self-funded, Madam Enyonam has been accommodating children with disabilities, giving them an education and possibly helping them look at life in a positive light.
Asked why she decided to take up this mantle, she noted that as a physically challenged person, she did not go through life easily and so she figured out that, almost all the people with disability will be in similar situations.
“When I got here, [Nsawam-Otoase], I told myself that, I need a land to build a school and which people with disabilities will one day attend and feel at home. So that the way I went through school which was not easy for me, they will find it a little bit easy to access the school and get to whatever level they want to attain.
Also, in Ghana, most schools are not disability-friendly, so if you are not determined to go to school no matter what, then you will hardly get education. With all these, I get motivated to build something and help people like myself. As you can already see, they are some kids here I have been staying with for years who are also disabled like myself,” she says.
She explained that her project, which she funds from the little salary she earns as a professional teacher, is basically to help and support people living with disabilities like herself.
Currently, all the children in her care go to their various schools even though they all stay with her. She is therefore working on building a school that will have classes from crèche, to primary and even to the JHS level to help them. “I believe there will be no discrimination between them if they all find themselves in one school and are being given the best tuition like any other child in the community.”
She has helped quite a number of children. There are currently two armless children with her now. They were brought to her when they were very young, and to her, being able to raise them so they don’t depend on anybody, play with everyone in the community, bath themselves, and do so many things by themselves, is a big achievement.
Apart from just helping people with disabilities, Madam Enyonam helps the whole community when the need arises. This led her to extend the source of water to the community. With her help, the community of Nsawam-Otoase now has water running constantly and neighboring also enjoy the water.
Level of impact
Her project, she notes, has given most people with disabilities the opportunity to be independent and believe that anything is possible. “At first, most of them were not hopeful. But after they met me, with the little help and talks I gave them, they now see themselves equal to every other person in the community.” Also, the level of stigma attached to disabilities in the community has dropped significantly.
Challenges and the future
Despite feeling fulfilled, she faces a myriad of challenges. Chief among them is finance. “Whatever you want to do and do it successfully, you need money to start with. So currently, that is the main challenge. If I am able to get sponsors to come to my aid, I think a lot more can be done.
Also the land that I want to build the school on, is just at the back of the house, a very big land the chief gave me. I have cleared the land and I am hoping to get sponsors so I start building it. I know it will be beneficial if the school is built.” Her biggest plan for the future is to build the school, take care of more children, and give more hope to people than she has already given.
About MTN Heroes of Change
The MTN Heroes of Change project seeks to unearth and celebrate the thousands of selfless people doing amazing things in communities across Ghana. The programme identifies, celebrates and supports the contribution of these heroes and heroines who are playing diverse roles in the development of society.