Featured Person: Sefakor Komabu-Pomeyrie
Meet Sefakor, a woman from Ghana whose proactive character helped her earn a Ford Foundation Fellowship for U.S. study. As a person with a mobility disability, Sefakor is using her fellowship to continue her advocacy work.
Name: Sefakor Komabu-Pomeyrie
Disability: Physical disability affecting mobility
Home Country: Ghana
Host Country: Vermont, United States
Program Length: 2 years
Exchange Type: Study abroad and internship on a Ford Foundation Fellowship
About Me: I am a Ghanaian by birth and work in Ghana’s eastern region, where I teach French at a junior secondary school. From 2006-2011, I was working in the Ghana Education Service Office – Akwapem South Municipality as the Resource Center Coordinator. I also work with the Ghana Society of the Physically Disabled as a volunteer in my village.
Describe your international exchange program.
As a Ford Foundation Fellow, my main concentration is on Policy Analysis and Advocacy, so my objective for the next two years is to learn how pressing issues are being tackled in the United States. First, I will fulfill my studies at the School for International Training (SIT) Graduate Institute in Vermont. Next year, I want to intern at disability organizations to learn best practices in the field.
The application process of the fellowship I received involves a lot of scrutiny, especially regarding the work you’ve been doing. The reviewers want to know that [applicants] have been working towards their goals on their own. For example, there are so many disabled people where I’m from, and I took it upon myself to mobilize them. The Ghanaian government has established a District Assembly Common Fund (DACF), but in the village, nobody even knew it existed, so nobody was accessing it. I knew the people must organize and apply for it, so I wrote to the media. Those [types of activities] pile up favorably in the selection process.
Did you arrange for disability-related accommodations during your exchange?
My fellowship program really prepared for me. They sent documents about my disability to SIT. They took pictures of my room and bathroom before I even got here so that I could see it. They asked me questions about how I bathe, so that I can use a stool to have a bath. So even before I arrived here, they made life very comfortable for me. Everything was in order. Also, my insurance through the program helped me buy a scooter here, since the campus grounds aren’t always easily accessible.
How will your U.S. experience assist you in your future goals?
There are disabled people in my village, and I can’t forget to help them. I told my disability advisor that I want to do advocacy work through an internship with a disability organization, and to know everything about policy and advocacy. If possible, I’m really searching for people who work to empower [people with disabilities]. While I’m here, I must seize the opportunity to raise awareness about the people back home in order to make change happen in their lives.
Do you have an exchange or disability-related question for Sefakor? Emailto contact her.