Rose gets her life back

Rose with her students before the attack (video still)

Inspired by jhr training, a local journalist from TV and radio media outlet Skyy Power in Ghana produced a documentary about twenty-six year old Rose Amina Abdulai who had her right arm and the fingers on her left hand cut off by her boyfriend. As her story was profiled throughout Ghana, empathy for Rose’s plight resulted in local women’s organizations fundraising to pay for her prosthetics and recovery. Through popular national media Rose became a role model in helping other women in abused relationships across Ghana realize their rights and seek support. Today Rose is once again teaching school children, no longer confined to life at home. Read the original article below

Rose

by John Gaudi, with Kweku Temeng, Skyy TV, Takoradi, Ghana

Rose shows her hand (video still)

 

It is afternoon by the time we arrive. The sun blazes high above a sandy road that leads into the fishing village of Bonyere. Kweku and I had received a text message saying, “Hi – here’s the number” from a contact. But nothing was firmed up. We find Rose at her brother’s house. She is wearing a purple jacket. Her dark eyes are bold, determined. A cross dangles from her neck. She agrees to speak with us.

 

“Last year, the story of a young woman brutally attacked with a machete hit the media, bringing about a national outcry. The First Lady personally paid the victim, Rose Amina Abdulai, a visit at the Effia Nkwanta Regional Hospital…” Kweku and I write these words. We’re making a television documentary about the aftermath of Rose’s ordeal.

 

“And like every twenty six year old, Rose was looking forward to a bright future,” Kweku narrates. There was a lot for Rose’s parents to be proud of. She had just started teaching at a district school. In a school photo, Rose sits on a bench with her students at Tikobo Number One DC Primary. They are clad in brown uniforms and she’s very much looking the part: a teacher-in-charge. Her hands are clasped, resting calmly in her lap. It started at about two o’clock, Rose recalls. She looks directly at the camera. Her brow furrows as she remembers. It was June 2005. She was residing at the teacher’s quarters. There was a knock at the door to her room and she recognized the voice outside. It was her boyfriend Clement Antwi Arkah, whose baby she was carrying. “He posed me some questions” Rose says, “Why did I involve myself in loving somebody else?” Arkah accused Rose of being in a relationship with Innocent Kobiri, a man doing his national service at the school. Rose said Innocent was simply teaching her computer skills. “He held my shirt.” Arkah had a machete. Rose tried to get away. “He started butchering me.” A female colleague rushed in. Rose, unconscious and bleeding profusely, was rushed to a hospital in Half Assini, and was later transferred to the regional hospital. Kweku asks, “Can you point out the cuts that you had?” Rose takes her jacket off. She shows her left hand. Her fingers and thumb are missing. Her right arm ends in a stump at the elbow. She has scars above her eye, on her cheek and at the top of her head.

 

Kweku interviews Rose (video still)

Arkah attacked Rose. Then, he went after Innocent. Innocent did not survive. Teachers and friends mobilized to help Rose. The First Lady, Theresa Kufuor, visited her in hospital. The Jomoro District Assembly set up an emergency fund. Rose moved back home to Bonyere.

 

From now on, without the use of her limbs, she would need constant support. Her teaching career was over and she felt confined to the house. She had lost her baby. Rose’s father, Abdulai Mohammed, sputters, “I was entirely shocked.” “Whenever I want to do something, and I can’t do it, I have to shed tears,” Rose confides. “I want my limbs to be fixed for me…for me to be in the teaching field again.” Rose shows us how she makes do on her own. She struggles to open a Discman. A CD falls onto the floor. She bends over to pick it up, balancing it on what remains of her hand. “I want you to help me. But, I have to do it myself,” she says. “I’m doing all these things, but I’m not happy.” The footage speaks for itself. The documentary is aired on AGOO, the morning show at Skyy Television. Kweku says that viewers who called in were deeply moved. Outrage. Tears. Calls for Arkah to face the death penalty. Rose is struggling for a good quality of life. “I want to see things bright and good for me,” she says. “I don’t want to be this way at all.” Kweku and I had brought Rose’s story back into the public eye.

 

Dr. Sampson Peprah, Rose’s doctor, felt she could get back into the classroom with help. Today, Rose is teaching at a school in Jomoro District. She’s been fitted with prosthetics, thanks to the support of womens’ organizations. She is no longer confined to life at home. Rose tells Kweku it’s as if her life has been given back to her. A Sekondi High Court found Clement Antwi Arkah guilty. He was sentenced to death.

 

*Kweku Temeng, a journalist at Skyy Television, Takoradi, Ghana

*John Gaudi, JHR trainer (2006)

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