Accra, June 14, GNA – Help Our Children Foundation (HOC Found), an NGO that seeks to rehabilitate mentally challenged and substance abused children was inaugurated in Accra on Saturday.
It will work towards a positive change in children's mental health care, prevent and control development disabilities and substance abuse among children in Ghana.
It will in addition, promote mental care to the society where the system of care is inadequate.
Mr Alex Tettey-Enyo, Minister of Education in an address read on his behalf by Ms Helena Mensah, Director of School Health Education at GES, said society had been very hostile to most children afflicted by mental illness sometimes by their own parents and relatives as a result of ignorance and superstition.
He said these unfortunate children who through no fault of theirs were mentally challenged were marginalised, stigmatised and neglected.
“Some were even killed right from birth, some put into rivers, forests and isolated places to die. Others were sacrificed for ritual purposes by certain individuals to either acquire wealth or to fortify themselves spiritually,” he said.
Mr Tettey-Enyo said this situation had eroded their self esteem, confidence and dignity resulting in their unproductiveness and dependence on others for survival.
He said according to the UN Declaration on Human Rights, said every child had a right to education to ensure their growth and development to fulfil their individual aspiration but many countries failed to bridge the barriers that made it difficult for participation, especially the mentally and physically challenged.
Mr Tettey-Enyo said the disabled could equally perform tasks that regular children performed provided they were given same opportunity through appropriate methodologies and materials, adding “No human being is useless unless the right opportunities, attention and care are not given.”
He pointed out that with the passage of the Disability Law, Government would continue to improve existing programmes and infrastructure to improve the plight of persons with disabilities so that “together we can build mother Ghana”.
Mr Tettey-Enyo explained that under the law, ICT programmes for disabled persons was a priority and Government would endeavour to establish ICT centres in Special Schools to enable them realize their potentials for the country's development.
Dr Fred Mac Palm, Executive Director of HOC Found, appealed to Government to enact a law that would make it illegal for the maltreatment of mentally challenged persons in prayer camps.