Support for Ahotokurom Rehabiliatation Centre Special Needs School
Ghana, West Africa
Ahotokurom near Cape Coast in West Africa was originally founded to support people who had suffered disability through leprosy. The mission has now widened to support all those with disabilities.
Children with disabilities (particularly where there is a learning disability) are often unable to attend school as there is no educational provision suitable. So a Special Needs School was established to support children and young adults who are physically or mentally challenged. Disabilities include cerebral palsy, down syndrome, autism, other severe mental challenges and brain damage due to cerebral malaria and many other undiagnosed issues.
A team made up of teachers, trainers, carers and assistants seek to help the children develop to their fullest potential. Each child is assessed and given an individual learning plan. Children are closely monitored, e.g. with respect to eating, toileting, coordination etc. The focus is on developing basic life and social skills thereby maximising their independence. Family involvement is essential so the parents are trained and supported in order to help the child develop their skills.
In June of 2013 Sister Pat visited Holy Cross Parish from the Ahotokurom Centre. She addressed the congregation at each of the weekend Masses and appealed for our support in delivering the Centre’s care programme. The retiring collections that week end kick started our tangible response to this appeal.
Subsequently a small committee was formed and we elected to commit to a four year Project raise funds to support the Assessment Unit at St. Elizabeth’s Special School at Ahotokurom; thus enabling us to fulfill our Mission. If as a parish we all participate in this Mission by giving then we are all taking part in God’s worldwide mission.
Since June 2013 the Committee has organised and the Parish participated in a number of fund raising events.
In 2014 Sister Clarisse and in 2015 Dr. Mark Manty each spent a fundraising weekend in the Parish. This included presentations, raffles, cake sales and coffee evening/mornings.
The Ghana Walk has taken place each July since 2013 with our enthusiastic walkers of all ages enjoying the event – whether competing to get back first or strolling at their own pace and collecting a few donations from members of the public on the way. This is always followed by a fabulous lunch with a wide variety of international dishes contributed by parishioners – a tribute to the diversity of our Parish community
In the Autumn of 2014 our big event was The Holy Cross Factor which gave many Parishioners the opportunity to showcase their myriad talents and provided a wonderful evening of entertainment for the packed audience.
In the Autumn of 2015 it was the Ghana Fundraising Harvest Supper- a lovely sit down meal, interspersed with wonderful entertainment from home grown talent
As well as the hard work and time investment of all participants many parishioners and supporters have also been able to make generous financial donations. All this has enabled us to achieve our annual target of £4000.00.
These funds help to provide staffing and staff training, theraphy and specialised equipment to support the children’s progress and development.
In November 2015 Fr. Doug and Trudie visited our children in the Special Needs Unit and brought back news of their development.
From the updated profiles now on display in the church, you will see that the children and their teachers/carers have been working hard to make progress with many of their goals. Some have made giant leaps – like learning stand up or to say two new words; some have a long way to go. They all continue to strive towards their new and ongoing targets with tenacity. We keep them in our prayers.
Funds are raised to enable teaching and support staff to be employed, to support training needs of staff and provide essential equipment to aid learning.
Many mini ‘miracles’ can be observed as children previously unable to move or speak, develop the capacity to sit up, to walk, to communicate with signs, to feed themselves etc.
The vast majority of these children would have nowhere else to go if Ahotokurom did not exist to help. The parents would have had no idea what potential their child had without the support and intervention of the centre.
If you would like more information on the work of Ahotokurom please visit:www.ahoto.org
Beaulieu Parish, Grenada in the Caribbean
In 2004 Grenada was devastated by a hurricane – many buildings were destroyed along with the nutmeg trees that provided the island with its main source of income. Our parish boasts a sizeable Caribbean and particularly Grenadian community and so we decided to support Beaulieu Parish near St George’s in the south of the island. The parish church and the two parish schools had been destroyed by the hurricane.
The church was rebuilt and fitted out with help from around the world. Our parish provided the lighting and we also refurbished parts of Beaulieu School.
The two parishes also developed relationships between parish groups and the two parish schools and each December on the Saturday nearest to the Feast of the Immaculate Conception the Grenadian Community in London join Holy Cross Parishioners at the 6.30pm Mass for a special celebration.
We undertook a major project in refurbishing the playground at Our Lady Help of Christians School in Beaulieu. With a variety of activities we were able to raise the £5000 that was required to level the playground, surface it and equip it for sports. The parish also use it as a car park on Sundays. A group of parishioners visited the school in 2013 for the commissioning of the playground and to bring the fundraising component of our relationship to a close.
Our friendship with Beaulieu Parish continues though and we would be ready and able to help out once again should there be another serious problem.