I read my never-missed column written by a veteran journalist, Doreen Hammond, in the Wednesday, February 13, 2019 issue of the Daily Graphic.
In this article, titled “A more deadly Cinderella story” the columnist, stunned by the behaviour of a mother towards a child leading to the child losing his hand, seeks to find answers to why a 22-year-old mother could mete out what she described as “such wickedness” to an innocent young boy to the extent of refusing to give him medical attention after she allegedly hit him with a machete.
The columnist said “In relation to this poor boy’s situation, I am asking myself many questions”.
“Where has the father of the boy been and what did he do about the situation?
Or as a palm wine tapper, he was perpetually on palm trees and did not see what was happening to his son?
If the biological mother of the child is alive, why has she not been visiting to check on her son?
How come none of their relations came to the rescue of this boy before things went out of hand?
And how come nobody in the community intervened until things got to this state?
Are we no longer each other’s keeper?
And what’s all this pretence about our society loving children so much that we would climb any height to get them only to maltreat them?
She is damn right!
The columnist’s concerns also agitated my mind since it first hit me so I decided to probe beyond the story.
What I gleaned from the investigation was troubling and I thought I could put it across to balance the discourse and put to rest some of the questions agitating the mind of the writer and the imagination of well-meaning Ghanaians.
The father of the young boy, David Mensah, and the biological mother got married and had this boy some 10 years ago.
The couple got divorced and the biological mother, who is now in a town in the Western Region, abandoned the baby as an infant with his father.
The father then sent the baby to his (father’s) mother, who is the child’s grandmother for care.
He then married his present wife and decided to go for the little boy to join them in an isolated cottage on a farmland which is removed from any community, with no electricity, water and even human beings but themselves.
Even motorbikes do not have access to the area.
Indeed, the only community near the cottage- Ahomfi- is about three kilometres from their cottage.
The 22-year-old mother is nursing a baby and is heavily pregnant expecting another child in addition to the stepson.
It was also gathered that since the boy was moved to that cottage, neither he nor his mother had moved out due to the work of the “husband”, who is head of the house, and could stay “away” for days or weeks.
So when the incident happened, the only remedy available to the expectant mother was to apply herbs and hot water on the wound until it deteriorated.
I also gleaned from the vine that due to the poor finances of the family, they hardly fed well making the boy anaemic.
So it was gathered that the boy decided to flee from his mother to an unknown destination through the thicket one day, and it was on his journey to that destination that he found the nearest village which is about four kilometres from his cottage.
He mustered courage and approached a certain woman, who considering the boy’s condition, gave him some fingers of banana, bathed him and appealed for funds which yielded GHC 9.00.
A motorbike rider was called from the nearest community who also agreed to offer that service pro-bono.
It was when the team reached Asebu, to see the District Chief Executive for the area that the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) boss for the area got wind of the chilling story and decided to support.
Considering the condition of the stepmother (heavily pregnant), the distance to cover, coupled with other challenges, it can, therefore, be surmised, that “this woman’s behaviour” is not “beyond wickedness”.
I must also agree with the writer that “there are many stepmothers out there doing a great job taking care of their step children”.
The biological, mother, who is currently married and staying with her husband and three children in a community in Sekondi in the Western Region, visited the son on January 25, 2019.
She told the nurses at the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital that she saw the news on television and had to sell her clothes in order to raise funds to visit the child.