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Opinions of Saturday, 14 August 2010

Columnist: Afreh, Manu Bernard

Why You Must Support The Ghana Burns Survivors Foundation

A couple of months ago, I watched a news item on Ghana Television, GTV, that touched me greatly. According to the report, Persons Living With Burns (PLWB) are being subjected to taunts and all manner of jeers. There is a notion that Ghanaians are sympathetic towards one another. But when I listened to the chilling account of one of the victims of skin burns, I am forced to question the basis for such an attribute. Hear him: “I suffered facial burns when I was 5 years old. I am told a woman accidentally threw boiling water on me. Growing up with such scars has not been easy at all. While in school, I was mocked and taken to be a caricature. After school, getting a job is another thing; in spite of all my credentials, I suspect that I am being denied a job because of my condition,” Furthermore, in an article posted on, ‘Dennis Opoku Gyamfi, a victim of skin burns, said: “I was just one and half years old and I was in a children’s walker but fell into hot water. The caretaker was not around and there was nobody to rescue me.” He also appealed to the Ghana Health Service to institute a counselling session for victims of burns.’
No one wishes for bad luck. Indeed, I do not think anyone would pray to fall into calamity. But by accident or fate, these unfortunate brothers and sisters have got their faces-or bodies- disfigured either through the recklessness of a driver [motor accident] or having been a victim of fire, hot water etc. Pray, is it not common knowledge that accidents do come without notice; and anyone could become a victim? In fact, I find it amazingly incomprehensible that some Ghanaians, apparently lacking the milk of compassion, would fail to realise this basic fact and rather choose to make mockery of unfortunate victims. It is also a source of deep regret that these heartless persons claim to be Christians or Moslems.
Walk to the parks: and you would see these so-called Christians, while praying, punching the air like a boxer aiming to break the opponent’s rib cage. On Sundays, we are witnesses to how they badger sinners with the prospect of damnation. They even go ahead to buy ‘miracle’ pens, water, porridge, onions and anything conceivable. Does our LORD JESUS CHRIST not emphasise in the Holy Bible (Matt. 19:19b) “to love our neighbour as ourselves”? Does the LORD ALMIGHTY have to send his angels to tell us to respect each other? These so-called Christians and Moslems should stop the hypocrisy of committing sins in day time [treating unfortunate victims with disrespect], only to indulge in nocturnal prayers that surely must be irking GOD.
Oh yes, dear reader, do not pretend you are a saint. Have you forgotten the moment you met someone with facial burns, and you contorted your face as though the person was not worthy enough to eat your table crumbs? What is more; I challenge you to tell me if you would allow a victim of skin burns marry that cherishable daughter of yours. Whether we are rich or poor, it is incumbent on us to never turn a blind eye to the injustice being meted out to victims of skin burns! Do we realise that King Hammurabi the Wise, in all his imperial pomp and majesty, still had compassion for the poor and disadvantaged!
Finally, let us never forget that all humans were created equal. I, sometimes, do not understand why most commentators would ignore social issues and continue to fill the public space with poli[trical] talks and petty mudslinging. It also saddens my heart when I see some rich Ghanaians and their companies lavishing monies on beauty contests and street theatres: while those living with burns and disabilities are going hungry.
Dear readers, let us desist from the ignoble act of hurling insults on people living with disabilities and burns. As the saying goes; no one knows tomorrow. Has it ever occurred to us that any of our siblings could suffer the same fate? - God forbid you would say. There is no excuse on why we cannot contribute to the Ghana Burns Survivors Foundation. Supporting our unfortunate brothers and sisters is a service to God and humanity. Let us join Mr. Dennis Opoku and his Burns Survivors Foundation in waging the tireless campaign against stigmatisation and discrimination of Persons Living With Burns. I rest my case.

Afreh Manu Bernard