courtesy of Mary Pat Ross
Mary Pat Ross & Dan Lundberg
BSM alums Dan Lundberg and Mary Pat Ross took a trip to Ghana and worked with various programs assisting disabled people in the country’s capital city of Accra.
On their ten day visit, Lundberg and Ross worked mainly with the Ghana Child Initiative to create community awareness about the disabled. “Mary Pat and I held a series of meetings about bringing together local change-makers and local people working on issues concerning the community. We’re specifically developing on reliable transport and then economic support for people with disabilities,” Lundberg said.
Thousands of people in Ghana suffer from disabilities, mostly physical, that impair them from leading a normal life. Children especially have a hard time surviving with a disability in a developing country, which is why schools for the disabled, like the one that Ross and Lundberg worked at, are so crucial. The BSM alums visited a privately-owned school called Epicenter. “There are public schools in Ghana, but they don’t accommodate people with mental disabilities, so this is a private school that exists to accommodate children with mental disabilities, Ross said.
“One of the amazing things about it is that it’s different than other schools for disabled children in Ghana, because it’s not just a care facility. They’re really working to teach the kids.This is extremely innovative in Ghanaian culture because the typical approach at these schools is solely to take care of them, so it’s just like a care facility. But the Epicenter aims to really educate children have them them progress in their independent abilities,” Ross said.
Through their work, Lundberg and Ross were also exposed to some of the cultural elements that makes countries like Ghana so different from places like the US. “I think it just speaks to the culture that during our last meeting we were supposed to start at ten and people just rolled in at noon, not really concerned about the time, and that’s just the way the culture is. It’s a country with a strong oral tradition, and consequently Ghanaians are very much a people that need to process things out loud and get their whole point across, so it ended up taking a very long time. I think were were supposed to end around two, but we didn’t get done till the evening. But that’s kind of Ghanaian culture, it’s a very slow pace, that require patience coming from a western mentality,” Ross said.
Overall, both Lundberg and Ross enjoyed their trip, and are glad they were able to go. They especially enjoyed interacting with new people. “They’re amazing people doing amazing work and I’m really glad I got to talk with them,” Ross said.