Hello, McFly.

June 25, 2010

Thank you, MJ.

I can’t believe it’s been a year.  I took him with me to Ghana in March. 🙂

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April 15, 2010

Let every breath, all that I am..

Filed under: Artistic Expression, Life, Music, Obsessions, Reunion — Tags: , , — marimcfly @ 2:01 pm

So in case you haven’t figured it out already, the children at Mephibosheth are my heroes.  Point blank, period.

I finally had time to upload a video of the older girls performing a body worship piece at Victory Bible Church.  Right to Left: Gifty Wiafe, Irene, Gifty Effie, Kate, Augustina.

Pure happiness.

March 21, 2010

Ghana: the perfect ‘reset’ button.

Filed under: Ability Spectrum, Life, Obsessions, Reunion, Travel — Tags: , , , , — marimcfly @ 11:13 pm

I just got back on Friday, so forgive me if my thoughts aren’t as coherent as they should be.  I survived the trip (36 hours from LA to Chicago to Frankfurt to Accra to Apam, 30 hours coming home without stopping in Chicago).  I’m still processing everything that has happened over the past 2.5 weeks, while also trying to re-adjust to being home, surrounded by comforts, family, luxuries, and excess.  Let’s just say my head, heart, and body have been working overtime lately.

As soon as I got off the bus, I heard 4 of the older girls screaming from the dormitory window: “Marikoooooo!”  I almost started to cry… and the moments grew increasingly beautiful.

The thing about these children is this: Almost all of them have endured what we would call neglect, exclusion, abuse, and abandonment… and yet, they have a place at Mephibosheth.  They each have a role to play, chores to do, things to learn, food to eat, and a bed to sleep in. They enjoy spending time together, help each other out, and never feel sorry for themselves.  They play football together—walking unsteadily, crawling, or scooting on the ground to get to the ball – laughing and yelling the whole time.  The older children help those who can’t feed themselves—even before they eat their own meal.  The children who can barely walk still push the children who use wheelchairs, so that everyone can get to the school building on time.  If one child is given a banana, he breaks it into 32 pieces so that everyone can have some.  They help each other to pull their shirts over their heads, to wash their backs, and to tie their shoes.  They clap when someone else has done something well.  They praise God unconditionally, grateful for everything they have and trusting that He will continue to give them more than enough.  These children experience their lives with more pure joy, more powerful love, and stronger faith than anyone else I know.

Theo vs. Paul.

Gifty, helping Ebe open and drink from a water bottle.

Junior, wiping food off of Joel's face.

For me, this trip was even more rewarding than last year’s.  Last year was incredible, but I felt like I went all the way to Africa and helped some children for two weeks… and that was it.  I was frustrated and not convinced that anything I did made any sort of long-lasting impact.

This year, I was lucky to come back as a CI (clinical instructor) for the next group of USC students.  Each student pair (I supervised 3 pairs) was assigned to 2 children and did observational assessments, developed and implemented treatment plans, facilitated group activities, observed them in school, took them to the beach, and worked with the children to establish short-term and long-term goals.  It was challenging to figure out how to give feedback while still encouraging the students to trust what they know and problem-solve on their own.  It was amazing to watch the lightbulbs go on as the days went by.

Prince Kwesi, blowing bubbles.

Kwame, getting his arousal level up.

My students. 🙂

The CI (clinical instructor) team.

I think the most exciting part of the trip was the opportunity to collaborate with students at the University of Education, Winneba.  This is the only university with a Community-Based Rehabilitation program, which focuses on social inclusion for people with disabilities in Ghana.  These students will be going into their villages to provide education, awareness, and resources to support the empowerment and inclusion of people with disabilities.  The Winneba students visited Mephibosheth and teamed up with the USC students to work with the children, get to know each other, and discuss occupational therapy and culturally relevant interventions.

Collaboration.

One of the students from the University was named Ike.   Ike got the measles when he was younger, which left his lower body extremely weak.. but (after convincing his mom to give permission) he walked over a mile to school every day – on his hands. Now, he’s a teacher, a student at the University’s Community-Based Rehabilitation program, and Paul’s newest role model.

Ike told Paul, "Don't ever give up. Try really hard in school. You can be the banker you want to be."

Later that week, we helped Paul open up a bank account. 🙂

After the USC students left, 5 of us (CIs) stayed to lecture at the University.  Carlin and I spoke about occupational therapy, the importance of meaningful occupations, common diagnoses seen in Ghana, priorities for treatment, and strategies for teaching a skill.  We facilitated discussions on task analysis (e.g. What component skills do you use to kick a soccer ball?), adaptive self-care techniques (e.g. How do you put on a shirt after you’ve had a stroke and you can’t move one of your arms?), cultural differences between American/Ghanaian approaches to disability, goals of independence vs. interdependence, and the best way for the students to support people with disabilities in their own communities.  Arlene even brought Gifty Effie and Paul to her lecture to discuss the experience of using a wheelchair (and to give Gifty and Paul the opportunity to be on a University campus).  The Winneba students were so thoughtful, passionate, and eager to learn; this gave me so much hope for the future of Ghana.  I strongly believe that the Winneba students I met will play a large role in the implementation of Ghana’s Disability Rights Bill (just passed in 2006).  I’m so grateful that I got to play even a small part in this movement.

2 Winneba students, learning how to use a "backward chaining" strategy to teach shoe tying.

Winneba's Community-Based Rehabilitation program (plus us!)

The teaching team!

To say the least, going back to Ghana changed my life (again).  It reminded me that most of what I have is unnecessary, that expressions of love come in all forms, and that anything is possible.  It gave me the chance to refocus and to clarify my priorities.  And it absolutely, absolutely confirmed that I’m in the right profession and I’m doing what I love to do.  The children at Mephibosheth are the most inspirational people I know.

This is what love looks like:

Augustina and Theo, before church.

Veronica and her 2 boyfriends, Tandoh and Kwame Otoo.

Ebe, Kobe, Joel, Junior, and Franklina.. getting ready to make room for some more friends.

Isaac and Prince, acting like 2 grumpy old men on a front porch.

Kwame and Watala, shooting the breeze.

Kwame and Veronica, lovebirds.

Irene and Pamala.

My boys. Albert, Joe, Bentum.

Curtains.

Oh.. and the kids had never heard Michael Jackson before.  Carlin and I decided to introduce them.  Party time!

The only thing left to say is Thank You.  Medasse.

March 1, 2010

Back in Chappelle mode..

Filed under: Ability Spectrum, Life, Reunion — Tags: , — marimcfly @ 9:00 pm

You guessed it.. back to Africa.  March 2-19.  🙂

http://www.mephiboshethinghana.org/

March 2, 2009

Chappelle had it right.. Eff this madness, I’m going to Africa.

Filed under: Ability Spectrum, Life — Tags: , , , , — marimcfly @ 8:43 am

I’m getting really really excited.. by this time tomorrow, I’ll be getting my stuff together and heading to the airport.  Here’s the plan:

LAX to Frankfurt: 10 hours, 50 minutes

Frankfurt to Accra: 8 hours, 10 minutes

Bus ride from Accra to Mephibosheth Training Center: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Assuming all goes well, I’ll be in Ghana from tomorrow until March 17th.  For two weeks straight, my life will be all about the amazing children (and staff)..  This also means that I’ll be away from my cell phone and the internet (gasp!) for two weeks.  I’ll miss the ABDC finale, the NCAA conference tournaments, and the release of Inverse‘s latest music video.. but I’m pretty sure it’ll be worth it.  Plus, I’ll be back in time for March Madness.

I’m sure you guys will be fine without me. 🙂