Thursday, March 1, 2012

New Horizon

I started volunteering at New Horizon on Monday. The center provides basic day school education for children and vocational training and employment for adults who have intellectual disabilities and autism. Over 100 children, teens, and adults are currently enrolled. 

There are small school/transportation fees to attend the center. Many of the children come from poor and/or single parent homes and cannot afford these fees, so the center has an "Adopt a Student" scholarship program. In Ghana, quality of education is really dependent on socioeconomic status, so it is really nice to see New Horizon make an effort to provide for those from all backgrounds. 

All in all, it seems like a great environment. The teachers appear enthusiastic and passionate and there are more of them than I expected, one for every 6-9 students. The students have P.E., music, computer lab and other activities to supplement their classroom time. 

I will have the opportunity to work with a group of nine students twice a week. The youngest person in my group is sixteen and the oldest twenty one, the majority of them have down syndrome or autism. Intellectual ability varies greatly within the group, some aren't able to spell Monday or February and some are practicing multiplication time tables.

The experience was a little bittersweet. The school is great; it is making a difference in hundreds of peoples lives, but I also know there are so many others who don't have access to resources like it. Ghana barely has the resources to educate "normal" kids, let alone those with special needs. In the past, and still today, those in Ghana with mental disabilities/illness were treated pretty poorly and most still don't receive any type of special care.

I know these things take time, particularly in a developing country. 

A little food for thought:
"All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem. "
-MLK, Jr.

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