Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Yumba Special School, located on the outskirts of Tamale, is primarily set up for students who are mentally handicapped, though a good number of students also have various physical disabilities.  The population of the school is quite less than a hundred students with eleven teachers and eight support staff.  It is significant that the name “Yumba”, a word from the local Dagomba language, means “love them”. 
For the three of us novices who have worked at Yumba last year and this year, working there asks for patience, courage and commitment. Most of all, it asks for a heart of love of God and the poor.  It is indeed a hurdle when you are not trained to work with such people, but with a heart that sees God in others, especially the marginalised, it becomes a life-changing story.
Lewis and Yumba students

One thing we found is that, although the children of Yumba are mentally challenged, they are happy people. From the moment you arrive in the morning till the time you leave in the afternoon, you will have the opportunity to experience the joy they share. They seem to be living in the true spirit of the gospel by enjoying the present moment. It seems the only thing that matters to most of them is the present moment..
                                            Students dancing

Language was our main limitation in terms of communication, but we came face to face with the reality that, for the mentally challenged, for whom talking is far from the first thing they do, love can change lives to respond positively. That is what we experienced.  We saw change and improvement as a positive outcome of the love they received from the teachers as well as from each other. We witnessed the beauty of God in how caring the students themselves can be to each other in school. It is something that challenged how we as “able” people treat those living with disabilities
                                   Victor and Yumba students

The challenge for us was, “If mentally challenged students can try their very best to look after one another, then what is God telling us?”  We found Christ really present and appealing to us through these students.  Being among them is very challenging and we really experienced God’s presence to us through them. They minister to us more than we do to them.
Victor Piniau, Lewis Musonda, Amos Kutwa

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