Social work is not a field that is practised widely in Ghana, and very little welfare is being provided by the government. Nevertheless, there are many groups of people who are in real need of support. Padre Pio Rehabilitation Centre seeks to address this needs and provides following services to the surrounding villages and the city Cape Coast.
Enyindakurom is the name given to the newly built village that was formerly a squat for people with leprosy. It translates “the village we did not expect” and now provides clean comfortable social housing for 80 or so families affected by leprosy.
Our outreach service to the people at Enyindakurom is the core of the Centre’s work. The Centre provides education funding for all the children and young people at Enyindakurom. They also provide a monthly allowance for a number of people who have no source of income. A food programme, a literacy programme, IT training as well as a health care programme is available to the community.
The residents are responsible for keeping their environment clean and litter free. They have also been given advice on suitable plants to grow around the houses to help the environment and supplement their diet! The Housing Committee is responsible for the allocation of houses and for supporting the elders in decision-making regarding the residents.
Maintenance is undertaken on a regular basis.
The Child Care Centre, home to up to 22 children, originally evolved when adolescent boys and girls were discharged from the Leprosy Hospital and because of the fear of stigmatisation and rejection by family and community they could not return home. In recent years it has also opened its doors to children affected by Buruli Ulcer and other severe illness and disabilities.
The personnel at the Centre have totally committed themselves to a holistic care of the children placed in the Centre. Whilst the priority for care has always been given to those with leprosy or affected by leprosy, the Centre to date has given care to over 180 children in the past 27 years, either in the form of short term or long term care.
Evidence from documentation available showed that some of the children are now university graduates; others have gained qualification in dress-making, electrical, driving trades, and teaching among others. The atmosphere at St. Joseph’s demonstrates a unique family set up for many deprived children. In recent months, a child protection policy has been developed to ensure the safe guarding of all the children, and the staff of the Centre. Towards this goal, the Centre constantly works in close collaboration with the Department of Social Welfare.
A child sponsorship programme ensures that all the children are fed, clothed and receive an education.
St. Clare's - Residential Home
St. Claire's provides rooms for up to 20 people and is a long term residential home for the elderly, multiple handicapped, former leprosy sufferers. The elderly people there have been struggling with leprosy and related causes for many years with consequent deformities, gangrene ulcers and amputation etc. Most of the old people at St Clare’s have been disabled in this way with many also losing their sight as the leprosy attacks the nerves in the eyes. The facility has a 20 bed capacity with an average of 17 residents at a given time. The facility also offers a rehabilitation programme for Buruli Ulcer sufferers.
St. Clare’s also offers outreach and day-care programmes for those who cannot cope totally on their own. The work of St Clare’s can be best described as a peaceful serene environment for people who have suffered so much. What is certain is that each individual at St Clare’s is provided with love, care, dignity and respect, until they pass on from this world.
There are many challenges militating against the smooth running of the work. Among these are lack of adequately skilled human resources, the high cost of bandages, gauze and other medical supplies, including medical aids e.g.. hoists, wheelchairs etc. St. Clare’s is largely dependent on the good will of the incumbent medical officer at the Leprosy/General Hospital, at Ankaful as opposed to regular official medical support.
Special Needs School
The Special Needs Unit supports 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 challenges. Children have various stages of mobility.
A team made up of trainers, carers and assistants are involved with the development of the children, each having an individual learning plan. Children are closely monitored, e.g. with respect to eating, toileting, coordination etc.
At present it has 4 classes:
Assessment Centre (0-4 years)
Kindergarten (4-10 years)
Special Education Unit (10-15 years)
Training Centre (15+ years)
The training centre (4th class) is the newest venture at Ahotokurom. The “graduates” of Special Education Unit (3rd class) are often not able to move into independent work due to physical and mental disabilities. At the Training Centre there is physical therapy, a small gymnasium, endorphin therapy, an academic programme, a job scheme suited to their needs and for which pocket money is given. The overall aim of the training centre is provide opportunities for physically and mentally challenged young adults to attain skills which will help them achieve semi-independent living. It is hoped to extend this centre in the future by building a separate facility with an income-generating hospitality village to support the centre in creating job opportunities
Education is key for the children and young people connected with the project. If they are to become independent they need education to enable them to break into the workplace. Since 1985, Enyindakurom has produced nurses, teachers, university graduates, accountants, farmers, carpenters, painters, hairdressers, dressmakers, cooks, typists, clerks and more. All who have gone for Vocational Training gain skills for work.
The greatest emphasis has been placed on informing the young adults that parenting skills acquisition is very important. Though the family is a matriarchal system in the area, both boys and girls have shown a keen interest in being responsible parents. Out of the 85 partnerships over the past 26 years only 7 have totally ignored their responsibilities in either taking care of or supporting their own children.
Just like anywhere else, the youth are also challenged with violence; anti-social activities, employment problems, drugs and substance abuse and health risk issues. These issues need to be addressed and to this end attention is given to facilitate programmes and activities to ensure the young people develop good moral values.
Friends of Ahotokurom support by contributing school fees for many young people associated with the Centre. The focus is to continue to reach out to those for whom the society says there is no place, by empowering these future leaders with a quality education.