It's the story of a disabled orphan from Ghana who wrote a letter to the Challenged Athletes Foundation here in the United States asking for only a bike. However, what he got would change his life and an entire nation forever.
Our EMMY winning Story just might have you asking: Am I doing enough to leave this world a better place than I found it?
Tracey Neale, WUSA TV9 (CBS)
"Are you nervous? No, not particularly." That's what Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah was feeling as he dressed for a visit to the White House.
There was no need for nerves, because his message is simple - it's his "method" that's inspirational. And on that day Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah was preparing to take it.
"Okay, I am ready to go...," Emmanuel said. All the way to the White House.
And what exactly is the message? That people with disabilities have something valuable to contribute. One might think that thought is a given, but it's not in Ghana.
There ten percent of the population is ostracized at birth, all because they were born with a disability.
When 28-year-old Emmanuel was born with a severely deformed leg - his father abandoned him.
Moreover, his mother was advised to kill him and in some people's opinion it would have been just as well, since his country considered him cursed.
"The government does not support disabled people," Emmanuel explained. In Ghana disabled children who are not killed, are often hidden away and expected to be beggars.
Emmanuel's mother in choosing to spare his life was sick herself and had nothing, gave him everything.
She soon died and in his grief Emmanuel found his calling.
That "calling" was to ride across Ghana proving the disabled can achieve. But, having one leg wasn't his only obstacle. He didn't have a bike. So he asked for one.
Jim MacLaren, Challenged Athletes Foundation's president recalls about Emmanuel that, "He
doesn't ask for money...even though he is shining shoes for a dollar a day. He asks for a mountain bike. To ride across Ghana and raise awareness for disabilities."
A missionary put Emmanuel in touch with the Challenged Athletes Foundation and his journey began. Documented in newspapers and on the radio he was becoming an international hero. He was even honored in Ghana, the place that once ostracized him, now embraced him.
The meager donations Emmanuel has raised thus far have proved priceless; funding independence and self worth through hundreds of homemade wheelchairs.
But what money hasn't been able to buy is new laws. Emmanuel envisions a Ghanaian Disabilities Act. It's a goal that remains an uphill battle. But already the world has witnessed the profound power of one man to shift cultural thinking and perhaps even like leaders before him affecting political change will be next.
MacLaren says, "When it says he will be the next Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela of Ghana, it's an earned moment. You believe it. I am blessed to and honored to know him."
Note: Emmanuel's story has drawn the attention of Oprah Winfrey, who voiced a documentary film about his life. It aired in select theaters and is now available online.
Fact about Ghana
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CC Africas ecotourism model recognises that economic development of the areas in which they operate is crucial to the maintenance of bio-diversity. They also recognise that much of Africas wildlife heritage and land is influenced or owned by local communities. CCAfrica's model successfully implemented throughout our operations in Africa -- links international, low volume/low impact visitors to these wilderness areas and their resident communities. The resultant revenue tangibly demonstrates the benefits of ecotourism and conservation to the neighbouring residents.
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Their products include soft, huggable dolls, storybooks and an interactive website.
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It is written by mother and author; Margaret Schwartz.
Way to go Margaret!
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Katie Wilhelm/Producer Nat Geo (For computer assistance, editing and just about everything else)
Juliet Hutchings our Videographer/Photographer in Ethiopia
Our Ethiopian Welcome Party!
Our gracious hosts Ruthie and her beautiful girls - we are so very grateful.
Special Thanks To Ethiopia's First Lady: Azeb Mesfin seen here looking out from the royal palace.
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