On April 26, 2016, AFRO partnered with Bridges to Belonging to present Emmanuel’s Gift, a documentary that tells the powerful and passionate story of a disabled orphan, Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah from Ghana, who has risen above abject poverty and a severe physical challenge to become a hero and inspiration to people around the world. His first stunning act of heroism was riding a bike across Ghana on one leg, in order to eradicate his country’s negative perception of disabilities. This remarkable feat was just the first of many and his awe-inspiring journey awakened the spirit of his fellow Ghanaians and countless others throughout the world.
The event began with an inspiring introduction from our guest speaker, Kwasi Peprah, who spoke about the stigma around disability that exists in Africa. Having grown up blind in Ghana, Kwasi is familiar with the stereotypes and prejudices that people often project onto him and other people with disabilities – expectations about his education, his abilities, and himself as a person.
But, as Kwasi told the audience, how your parents and family treat you and what they expect from you play a key role in shaping who you will be, even more so than the expectations of other people outside your circle. The support he received from his family, his wife, and his children helped him move forward as he completed his early education and Bachelor’s degree in Ghana, and later, his Master’s and PhD in Canada.
Coming to Canada did not mean an end to the stigma, however. Kwami found that the same barriers he faced in Ghana because of his blindness existed in Canada as well. From his story, we can understand that ableism exists everywhere – and that everyone needs to take steps to eradicate our prejudices and create a better, more supportive, and more understanding community for all.