You Win Some, You Lose Some

I know some of you are already having “Going To Ghana” withdrawals. So am I! I promise to continue posting some more pictures and stories.

I am relieved to have the entire journal transcribed and posted and it was a real challenge for me to “go back” especially over the final two journal days. When all is said and done and read, I realized I was only successful in giving you a flavor of the experience. Honestly, I have concerns about what I posted and that eventually there will come the request for me to remove it. My bigger concerns are about the things I didn’t post. Going to Ghana reminded me that looking only a generation or two into our country’s past you find stories of families sending their children with special needs into full care homes. It was not so long ago that you would send your deaf child to a boarding school and only see them on weekends or holidays. It was not so long ago that most deaf children’s families could not communicate with them.

When we discovered Leah’s deafness, we were asked if we would send her to a deaf institute for schooling. We were warned against signing with her for fear she “may never talk.” This was only 10 years ago. Disability laws are relatively new in our country, in the grand scheme of things. I think it is important to remember that, as we look at the progress and vision that will come to these third world countries.

A week after our return home, Curry called and said that some of the teachers had requested that rather than being paid cash for attendance and participation in their sign language classes, they would like to be “paid” in Signing Time DVD’s. This is a huge honor! The teachers said they would like to be able to view the DVD’s at home and review the signs so they can remember them better. This is a beautiful breakthrough in what is possible for the teachers and their students. It’s beautiful to have the teachers looking for a way to have the information reinforced at home, on their own time 🙂 And we all know that if they have any small children in the home, they too will be signing soon enough! Curry offered to have SOHI pay for the DVD’s, but knowing that each $250 is equal to a year of life for a deaf child, I cannot charge him. We will be donating over $2000 in Signing Time product to Signs of Hope International so that they can use it to pay the teachers.

Before we went to Ghana I shared that we could not give the children anything that could be taken away from them, thus our focus was giving them love and language. We had heard of other groups who had raised large amounts of money to provide items for each child, things like hearing aids or glasses. We also heard that after these items were distributed and the groups returned to their country, the items were collected from the children and never seen again. We can only presume they were sold. It is my understanding that similar events have occurred with donations of clothing, toys and books. When word got back to the groups, they never returned to offer assistance again. Would you?

When we first began planning for this experience Emilie and I said we would love to leave a set of Signing Time Books with each child, we were discouraged from doing this, because we heard that the children would not end up with the books once we left. I know it is hard to imagine, and I urge you to steer clear of the immediate judgments from our comfortable lives where all we can call it is “stealing.” If your life focus was survival, then you might see those “extra” items for “disabled” children (or children with no rights or future) as unnecessary and even an extravagant waste of resources. Now, just to be clear, I am not saying that it is my opinion, by any means. I am just trying to help you imagine a world and view that is very different than our own but it is THE view have. It is what most people there believe. I just know that it is hard for us to see it as anything other than evil and selfish. Fortunately, our children have rights, whether they have disabilities or not. Sadly that is not the case in many countries. It is a different mindset.

A few days ago I was informed that the full set of DVD’s that we left for use in the schools, the teacher’s sign language classes and the church sign language class had been collected immediately after we left and have not been seen since. Of course I was furious. I am sure it was no help that I had a 106-degree fever, but I sat at my computer and wept. Then, I went through all of the things you can yell out loud so you feel better, things like, “It’s Not Fair!” “What’s The Use?” and many others. Leah, who has been home sick all week, saw my tantrum and said, “What’s wrong mom?” When I told her, she took a deep breath and held it until she turned red. “I want to pummel them!” She said, and then gave me a hug.

The stupid thing is, I knew better. I knew that anyTHING I left could be taken away. I guess I just didn’t think it would happen to us especially since the THING we left would support education and communication. It is frustrating, but I am not going to be one of the people who quit, because it’s not about the things, it’s about the kids.