Graphic Online

Graphic Online 

Making a living through operating elevators

BY: Nii Martey M. Botchway
On a daily basis, Mr Akoto and his colleagues help patients to access the various floors at the hospital.
On a daily basis, Mr Akoto and his colleagues help patients to access the various floors at the hospital.

In life, everyone faces hardships and difficulties one way or another. But for persons with disabilities (PWDs), the barriers are more frequent and have a greater impact.

The barriers are often more than just physical obstacles and stereotyping.

The difficulties PWDs experience in their quest to get employment are often enormous and stressful.

Sometimes qualified individuals with disabilities are denied the opportunity to be employed due to their status.

In public hospitals such as the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and the Greater Accra Regional Hospital, popularly referred to as the Ridge Hospital, the story is quite different as authorities at the facility have taken it upon themselves to employ some PWDs to operate the elevators there.

Speaking to The Mirror, 50-year-old David Akoto, one of the people employed to operate the elevators, recounted how challenging it used to be for him to make ends meet as he gathered empty water sachets, otherwise known as pure water sachets, in order to make a living.

Mr Akoto helping a bedridden patient get to the third floor of the Ridge Hospital.

However, things have taken a different turn ever since he was employed at the hospital, adding that he hopes to get married by the end of 2018.

The story was not different on the part of 29-year-old Moses Manabi Ndugnan who used to sell scratch cards on the streets.

Challenges

Even though they appear to enjoy their work schedules, they are sometimes faced with challenges ranging from discrimination to stereotyping.

According to them, some persons turn to look down on them, with the view that their quality of life is poor or that they are unhealthy because of their impairments; and in some cases use unprintable words to describe them.

However, upon lodging complaints with hospital authorities, they have taken steps to address the issue.

In an interview, the Medical Director of the Ridge Hospital, Dr Emmanuel Srofenyo, said the hospital had employed six PWDs who operated the lifts on a shift basis.


Mr David Akoto (seated), and his colleague Moses Manabi Ndugnan.
 

That, according to him, formed part of the hospital’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

He further indicated that the six persons were paid through the hospital’s internally generated fund (IGF).

“Initially, most people found it difficult to operate the elevators, while others mishandled the knobs; so it became necessary to employ persons to operate the lifts.
 
“The hospital sought assistance from the Ghana Society of the Physically Disabled (GSPD), who provided us with the six persons,” he said.

Dr Srofenyo noted that the society’s understanding of disability was improving and once it became easier to recognise and address challenges that PWDs experienced, they could be supported to live independent lives.

He also called on the government to pay more attention to the legislative instruments that would strengthen the effective implementation of policies to ensure the well-being and employment right of PWDs in Ghana.