By Joyce Bedeley:
Madam Cecilia Tettey has a lot to contend with as she struggles to maintain her stand as the sole bread winner for her two nephews: James and Johnny. But she has a bigger trouble to deal with; the two won’t stay put at home, preferring instead to take distant walks of several kilometers away from home. Now, she perhaps has no option but chain them to a pillar at their Abansey home, perhaps to curtail them and save her the trouble of chasing after them.
The sight of the chained boys took this reporter aback upon setting foot in the house. Like animals, they only had the liberty to a few feet and no more to define their world. James reveled in his three or four feet radius as he reached out to the outstretched arm of this reporter and grabbed the ‘popcorn’ he had bought earlier. Grateful, he had very little time as he ‘washed’ his hands with his pee trickling out of his manhood from his naked body.
As their auntie explained, James’ nakedness is the only way out for him because he’s always quick to tear off any clothes put on him.
Johnny couldn’t have been more grateful either as he took his share of the popcorn. Unfortunately, he soon lost it as it fell from the top of the short wall bordering his make shift room on their verandah and on which he had placed it. His restrictive chain was too short to enable him reach where his treasure had fallen. In amazement, he lowered his cloth, blowing it over his popcorn in an attempt to reclaim it.
‘I have no option but to chain them because they stray too far away from home, sometimes for as far as several kilometers. They stray away to far away towns and I’m compelled to go all the way in search of them,’ Madam Cecelia maintained. ‘That is not even all; they end up destroying properties of neighbours and I have to be confronted by the angry victims to pay up.’ She recalled an instance where she had to travel to as far as Asesewa to bring home one of the twins who had strayed that far.
For now, the poor boys are compelled to remain in their chains as they endure rainy and sunny moments; day and night as well as the giant-sized, razor-teeth mosquitoes.
The two orphaned young men, aged 20 are a set of twins who have lost both parents at a tender age. But Auntie Cecelia’s plight is far more than the plight of an unemployed middle-aged woman forced to raise a pair of twins whose conception she knows next to nothing about.
The young men suffer from a complex system of abnormalities that has left their auntie burdened with not only caring for their upkeep but serving as an aid, a benefactor, a single parent as well as a guardian. Like Mr. Philip Larbi, a mental health nurse at the Atua government hospital put it; ‘the young men are deaf and dumb, sub-normal, partly schizophrenic and epileptic.’
Now, caring for James and Johnny is stretching Auntie Cecelia to her elastic limit. She’s forced to live with the twins in a burnt down home, a situation she says was caused by her two nephews. ‘They burnt down this room and everything I ever had,’ she lamented to Rite news when the team visited her home. ‘They did it without knowing what they were doing as a result of their condition,’ she added when the reporter enquired to know the reason behind their actions.
The family lives at Abansey in the Lower manya Krobo municipality of the Eastern region. Auntie Cecelia recounts that her nephews were born in Accra shortly before they lost both parents. Unemployed and unable to cater for their welfare, she’s forced to fall on the benevolence of neighbors to cater for the young men. “I also worship with the church of Pentecost which has shown some support for us over the years,’ she added.
‘Sometimes, the situation gets so crazy that I have no option but to go out bowl in hand, begging for food for these children,’ madam Cecelia recalled adding that on one occasion, the two pushed her violently to the ground out of hunger which resulted in she sustaining a serious damage to her leg.
Her two brothers who also supported her efforts have died, leaving her in a precarious situation. What seemingly adds to Auntie Cecelia’s woes is the fact that other relatives have turned their backs on their plight. Their reason; the two are ‘spirit children and helping them would attract curses onto themselves.’ Even though she together with James and Johnny live in a ‘family house’ with other relatives, they are hardly even aware of a jobless middle-aged woman living on the edge with a pair of ‘sick’ young boys who are in distress.
She has a lot of gratitude for some staff of the Atua government hospital who she said have been very supportive of her. Their monetary, medical and material support has gone a long way to keep her and the boys going while she awaits permanent help from the local district assembly.
Now at her wits end, the poor woman is appealing for support from kind-hearted individuals to enable her take proper care of the boys.
Mr. Philip Larbi, a mental health nurse at the Atua government hospital who first brought Rite news’ attention to the development explained that the condition of the children calls for them to be sent to a special school. To him, chaining them is the best for their welfare under the circumstances. This he contends will relieve Auntie Cecelia of the stress she’s currently facing.
Though he agrees that chaining them is an unpleasant situation and is against their basic human right to free movement, he nevertheless thinks it is the only choice available to the woman since the boys are hyperactive.
‘We need help from any agency or anyone who would like to help because this situation is very pathetic and the woman cannot do it alone. I think is our duty and that of everyone to help each other,’ Mr. Larbi appealed.