Madam Adwoa Esther, a mother of seven and widow gave birth to 25-year- old James Mobey, who showed no sign of disability.
However the good expectation of a mother turned sour when James became physically disabled when he was three-years old in a bizarre circumstance.
Her son woke up one night to urinate and became paralysed ever since.
Madam Adwoa Esther singled-handedly enrolled James to Amaniampong Senior High School in Asante Mampong but could not afford to pay his school fees of GH₵120 and so he was withdrawn.
Adwoa told Ghana News Agency (GNA) that she went to Asante Mampong Municipal Assembly for GH₵150 of the Disability Common Fund (DCF) of the District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF) to pay the school fees of his son, but was denied the fund because of the official reason that the beneficiaries on the list are many.
“My son took to drinking hard liquor and used other substances after he was out of school,” she said.
Hannah Owusu Dwomoh a physically challenged mother with a child said she had to borrow GH₵ 800 from a relative to pay for a national basketball trip to Nigeria in February this year.
She manages a provision stall and needed GH₵ 400 to expand her business and to pay her seven- year old boy’s school fees. The boy has been driven out of school a number of times for non-payment of school fees.
People like Adwoa and Hannah are denied of the two per cent DCF they are entitled to because persons and committees seeing to the management and disbursement of the money spend it without recourse to the guidelines governing it.
The problem is also compounded because there are no sanctions against offenders, leaving beneficiaries wallowing in abject poverty and misery.
The Social Welfare Officer in Mampong in the Ejura/Sekyeredumase Municipal Assembly raised a memo and withdrew GH₵1,900 from the Persons with Disability (PWDs) account in Kwamang Rural Bank with cheque number: 1121320001082191 on November 14, 2013 without the knowledge of the Disability Fund Management Committee (DFMC) members.
The money was said to have been used to pay school fees of children with disabilities but the list was never made available to the committee members.
Beneficiaries mostly used the amount for travelling and attending conferences but none of the two municipalities have ever applied the money for skills development activity or promotion of PWDs’ rights as mandated in the guidelines.
The disability fund management committee is mandated to vet and approve all applications submitted by persons with disabilities but this component of the guidelines is violated with impunity.
Quarterly reports on the use of the fund are not known to the DFMC committee members.
The national council on persons with disability guidelines for the disbursement and management of the district assembly common fund for PWDs have sanctions for assembly officials who flout the guidelines but the violation and misapplication continues.
District assembly officials hold the money in secrecy; actual amounts transferred from the common fund administrator, bank accounts and statements are not known to beneficiaries or officers of the Social Welfare Department (desk officers for the fund) or the fund management committee members.
“When the money come they [assembly officials] tell us by word of mouth or write on a small paper, I have never seen any documents and I don’t even know the instalments that come. Sometimes we are told the sum that come is in bulk,” Ejura/Sekyeredumase Disability Fund Management Committee (DFMC) Chairman, Emmanuel Kofi Antwi said.
“I was told the last disbursement was in August 27, 2013, I made follow up to the accounts, we don’t have control over the money, applications are not passed through the social welfare,” Ejura/Sekyeredumase Social Welfare Officer,” Justina Moo told the GNA.
Ghana Federation of the Disabled President, Yaw Ofori-Debrah said when the guidelines for management and disbursement of the DCF were disbursed, there were no sanctions attached and so the district assemblies misappropriate the fund with impunity.
There are no proper records on the disbursement of the fund; list of beneficiaries, bank statements and accounts as well as transfer payment documents are not made known to the DFMC, Social Welfare Officers and the disabled persons.
Some PWDs have never benefited from the fund as sharing of the money is fraught with discrimination – albinos and mentally ill persons are conspicuously out of beneficiaries.
The blind, the deaf and the physically challenged are the only known beneficiaries.
Ghana Society of Mental Health Executive Director, Humphrey Koffie told the GNA that the destitute and mentally ill persons are being excluded from government social intervention programmes like Livelihood Empowerment Programme and the DACF for PWDs.
He described the situation as discriminatory and an affront to the fundamental human rights of mentally ill persons.
Out of more than 900 applications in Asante Mampong only 18 PWDs benefited from the fourth quarter of 2013 of GH₵ 7,736.90, equivalent to the monthly salary of a minister of state or Member of Parliament.
The minimum given to beneficiaries was GH₵150 while the maximum is GH₵ 400, knocking nearly 900 PWDs out.
In Ejura/Sekyeredumase Municipality 62 received about GH₵ 300 each as at August 29, 2013 and the DFMC members could not tell, which quarter or quarters were disbursed.
Government’s delay in release of the DACF further compounds the mismanagement of the fund, said Ofori-Debrah.
No quarter of the 2014 district assembly’s common fund has been released and the delay or transfer of the money is encouraging misapplication, misappropriation or mismanagement.
Alhaji Hafiz Adam, Ejura/Sekyeredumase Municipal Coordinating Director said there is a data base for 270 PWDs indicating their ages, sex, location and type of disabilities, but in Mampong there is no such document or information or list of PWDs.
Ghana News Agency