Medical care for victims of sexual abuse remains a dream in many communities in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.
Parents of abused persons, mostly children, make little or no effort to take them to the hospital, even at police request because they cannot afford the cost.
Two health workers who were confronted with the story of a five-year old defiled girl took up the fight to cater for the child and her parents.
Known as Afia, the little girl was defiled by the cousin in the absence of the parents. The suspect, Kofi Dapaah, 19, was reported to have had sex with her on countless occasions.
She was later diagnosed with Cystitis, an infection of the bladder, which made it difficult for her to walk or pass waste.
The family needed GH¢15,000 for corrective surgery as an infection in her vaginal area worsened by the day.
But even as Good Samaritan donated towards her medical upkeep, the incident cost the life of a five -year old girl at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital.
Afia was expected to undergo another surgery after she passed through a successful one in June this year. But her condition kept worsening day by day.
In her first surgery, a tumour was found in Afia’s private part which made her unable to pass urine and waste.
While waiting for two weeks for her surgery wounds to heal to see if she could be able to control the urine and waste, doctors sent the tumour to the lab for further examination.
It was later discovered that, the tumour was cancerous triggered by the defilement, compressing the nerves and organs systems of the girl.
This, they said, caused a lot of complications on the health of the young girl. Until her demise, she was put on chemotherapy but her abdomen kept swelling.
Subsequently, it appeared flattened, probably a sign she was dying.
The last time Afia’s parents saw the body of their daughter was on July 29 2016 after an autopsy was conducted before burial.
The cousin is now serving a 24-year jail term for the offence but Afia is no more.
In many traditional societies, state law comes second to a council of elders when it comes to crimes like defilement.
For victims like Afia and her poor parents, it is the only option for seeking redress because they cannot afford even transportation to pursue state justice.
This decision to ensure quality healthcare for Afia cost the parents’ job as the owner of a cocoa farm they were taking care of disengaged and evicted them.
“We lost our job as a farm keeper, and this compounded our problem in finding medications for little Afia. But you guy came in to help. In fact, we really appreciate your support”
Those were the words of Afia’s father, Mr. Hian who looked so pathetic and disturbed in front of daughter’s corpse.
Two health workers, Agnes and Esther heard Afia’s story. Unlike many who will shake their heads and go, they took it upon themselves to help the family.
They provided food items and words of motivation for the family. They treated them like their own and solicited funds for them
“It could be any of us or our children. This alone is enough for us to support wholeheartedly”. Anges explained.
Securing shelter for Afia and her parents was a headache in a well -established community like Offinso.
Agnes decided to accommodate them in one of their houses, hoping the condition of the young girl would get better in no time.
They spent their money to cater for the family and the girl’s medication on different occasions.
Defilement cases require urgency but for people in rural communities that really is not the issue. They have to travel long distances to seek care for their children. Along the line some give up.
Though Afia is gone, she remains in the hearts of those who tried so hard to save her life. For Agnes and Esther, their love for the young girl can only expire, perhaps, with death.
Story by: Mahmud Mohammed-Nurudeen