NGO provides free medical care and shelter to people with intellectual disabilities removed from the streets of Kumasi

The Hope-for-the-Rejected-Project-provides-treatment-for-people-with-mental-disabilities

A non-governmental organization, Willingway Foundation, in collaboration with the Ghana Health Foundation, has started a program to rid the streets of Kumasi of the mentally ill.

With help from the Ghana Health Service, Social Welfare and the Police, the group removed 10 mentally disabled women from the streets of Kumasi and Ejisu on the first day of the weekend drills.

Inmates would be housed, fed and rehabilitated at the Willingway Rehabilitation Center at Asawasi in Ejisu at the Foundation’s expense, under a project called “Hope for the Rejected”.

“I was never paid for this work. It’s just a passion. It’s my passion to help those with mental issues,” Willingway Foundation CEO Lydia Yaa Manu said of the exercise.

The streets of Kumasi and its surroundings have been flooded with the presence of the mentally ill.

“Hope for the Rejected”

The Ministry of Local Government makes little effort to get rid of those who pose a threat to safety and security.

Faced with this breach of public security, a non-governmental organization took the initiative to rid the streets of these individuals suffering from mental disorders.

The Willingway Foundation provides medical care to inmates in a well-maintained shelter, food and clothing.

The mentally handicapped are rehabilitated in a well-furnished hostel

“Last year we had about 4 or 5 people giving birth with them. So some people called us and we picked them up.

We started treatment and they became stable and were able to refer us to their families. So we realize that means those people on the street when we have a good place to keep them and give them good treatment, they will become useful to the community,” Ms Manu explained.

The first day of the exercise proved a Herculean task for the team, made up of police, health care staff leaders from Social Care and the Willingway Foundation.

Mental Health Project
Some people with intellectual disabilities were very unfriendly

Those targeted were not only aggressive but also hostile as they resisted attempts to remove them from their adopted place.

Ghana Health Service Ashanti Regional Mental Health Coordinator Faustina Nuako, a member of the team, said some of them had to be sedated to calm them down.

“Some were very calm; some just got in the car very quiet. Some were also very aggressive. In fact, it’s not the right thing to do because of the quality rights, but we had to put them to sleep”.

“Because they were aggressive, we couldn’t have carried them to the other customer without putting them to sleep.”

Ms Nuako, who praised Ms Yaa Manu and her team for the bold move, is courting public support for the exercise.

“It’s a good initiative that should be supported by everyone. Members of the public can help clothe, feed and care for the mentally handicapped.

Sister Lydia and her team cannot do this alone.

Mental Health Project
The recipients had their long shaggy hair cut, bathed

Unduly taking advantage of the mentally ill

A 2016 census conducted by the Mental Health Authority found that 1,146 people with mental disorders, comprising 746 men and 400 women, were on the streets in the Ashanti region.

Ms Nuako fears the number has risen without any public effort to get them off the streets.

“That was in 2016. We haven’t done it again. I know it will increase,” she said.

“When Covid-19 came a lot of people were having issues because the stigma, the anxiety was too much, so we know people are going to develop mental illness and that will drive the numbers up.”

The team was shocked, however, to see two of the mentally ill impregnated by strangers.

They have been pregnant for months by men who take advantage of their misery and abuse them.

So who could be responsible for their pregnancies?

“That’s the question I asked myself all the time. It’s strange. Looking at their conditions, people will always sleep with them,” replied Mrs. Lydia Yaa Manu, surprised.

“That’s why we decided to go with females because a lot of people take advantage of that,” she added.

Mental Health Project
The Willingway Rehabilitation Center in Ejisu-Asawasi provides free medical care, meals, shelter and clothing to people with mental health issues

In addition to the high cost of maintaining the center, the NGO says it faces complete societal rejection from inmates who respond to treatment at the facility.

CEO of the Willingway Foundation, Lydia Yaa Manu wants the public to accept people with mental illness.

“I have clients here who are stable; they are fine but they are not welcome at home because of the stigma. Some people even know that their sisters sleep rough; they know exactly where they are. They bypass them every day. They don’t care about them.

This is why I ask that when we are done with them, the family supports them”.