(Photo courtesy of Every Child Ministries)
Ghana (MNN) ― While Ghana has made progress toward the UN's goal of universal education for all children, kids with special needs have fallen through the cracks. According to UNESCO, about four out of five children with disabilities are living in developing nations like Ghana.
In 2002, Ghana's leadership formed a review committee to reform education in the developing nation. By 2007, reforms began to be implemented, and one of the reforms on the forefront of these changes was special education. Today, creating educational opportunities for children with special needs seems to have taken a backseat.
"I know there are some special ed schools beginning, so I think that it is in the initial stages. But at the Haven of Hope Academy, they have not been able to meet the needs of those special needs students," states Sally Wayner, an Early Childhood Specialist from the United States.
Upon visiting Every Child Ministries Haven of Hope Academy, Wayner saw a major problem inherent in many of Ghana's schools: special needs children are placed on the same academic playing field as other students, but because of mental and physical challenges, these kids are unable to succeed.
"Immediately I felt that God was calling me to go and help them start a special education program for their students," she says. Wayner hopes to create a Christ-centered special education program, where children with special needs can develop to their fullest potential, and staff can share Christ's love and compassion with an oft-rejected community.
"Oftentimes in Ghana, they view children with special needs as truly 'the least of the least,'" Wayner says. "Everything we do will be based on the Word of God. We will be able to share the Bible stories and pray with them, and that will be an integral part of the special ed program."
During her last trip to the Haven of Hope Academy, Wayner met a young teenage girl who personifies the way Ghana schools have handled the challenge of students with disabilities. This 15-year-old girl was born with sickle cell anemia and later suffered a stroke, rendering her both physically and cognitively disabled. Because of her cognitive disability, this young girl cannot learn how to read. Teachers have placed her with other students, usually around four or five-years-old, who also haven't learned to read yet.
"So here is a 15-year-old sitting in a younger child's classroom day after day," said Wayner, "because cognitively she is not able to learn to read."
Pray that hearts will be softened and receptive in Ghana, and that the Wayners will be bold in sharing the Gospel with unbelievers. Pray for God's will to be done in this underserved area of ministry.
"I have just felt God calling me to go on the mission field full-time, and God has gifted me with working with special needs children."
In the next two months, Sally and her husband Doug Wayner will finish raising the support they need, heading to Ghana on October 7. If you can help the Wayner's financially, please click here to make a donation.