Home Speech-Language Pathology Gone to Ghana 2012

Gone to Ghana 2012

by Catherine Crowley

Editor’s note: I know we said that we were taking a week off, but I did want to share the following brief post from Catherine Crowley before she and her students take off for Ghana tomorrow.

For the fifth year, masters’ students in speech-language pathology from Teachers College Columbia University travel to Ghana to provide services and collaborate with our Ghanaian colleagues. I am the program director, Miriam Baigorri is clinical director, and Pamela Andres is clinical supervisor of the Ghana program. This year’s 18 students will work at the two major teaching hospitals with the ENT Departments, cleft palate and teams, and with the Division of Special Education of Ghana’s Ministry of Education. This year we will participate in a professional development retreat focusing on AAC for 54 special education teachers from throughout Ghana. In addition, Skye McLeod, a documentary film maker, is accompanying us to record the work.

We leave December 30th and return January 14, 2012. We invite you to join by following our 2012 blog.

Catherine (Cate) Crowley, J.D., Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is a distinguished senior lecturer in the program of SLP at Teachers College Columbia University where she coordinates the bilingual/multicultural program focus and directs the Bilingual Extension Institute. In addition to the Ghana trip, Cate has led TC students to Bolivia for six years. Cate is a member of ASHA’s SIG 17 Global Issues in Communication Disorders.

Related Articles


Honeylyn Armstrong December 29, 2011 - 1:32 pm

Good luck everyone! The work you are doing is so important and will make such a huge difference to the lives of these children.

Miaoling Huang December 30, 2011 - 12:21 am

Have a great trip, Cate! I envy the students who have the opportunity for such a great experience.

Abbie Olszewski December 30, 2011 - 12:19 pm

Safe travels! I look forward to reading about the experience.

Jo Stone December 31, 2011 - 11:09 am

Have a wonderful trip! We will be thinking of you all the time, and looking forward to photos and videos we can use to help your efforts and work there! Be safe 🙂

Gemma Moya-Galé December 31, 2011 - 12:09 pm

This reminds me of that early morning when we landed in La Paz, Bolivia, to provide speech-language services. What a great learning and cultural experience!! Safe travels and I’m looking forward to hearing all about the work that TC is doing in Ghana!

Monique Wheeler December 31, 2011 - 11:05 pm

What a wonderful opportunity! Best of all, this program will help so many more people than just those in attendance. It’s exciting to think about the ripple effect this will have. God bless you guys, and have a great trip.

Juan Abel Elias January 1, 2012 - 7:05 am

Proud of what you are all doing! Happy new year too!

Dorothy Leone January 1, 2012 - 11:07 am

Happy New Year Ghana Group 2012! I hope everyone is having a wonderful start to the trip! Enjoy every moment of the experience – I can’t wait to start seeing the pictures and videos posted.

Jillian Heron January 1, 2012 - 12:57 pm

Best of luck, Ghana 2012 group! Happy New Year, and I hope you enjoy kicking it off with an amazing experience! 🙂

Keturah Trembley January 1, 2012 - 2:01 pm

Safe journey everyone, very excited about sharing your experiences through the blog!

Renee Jacobs January 1, 2012 - 8:26 pm

Such a great first post and so informative. I look forward to reading more as you begin your work in Gahan. Good Luck!

Imari Brown January 2, 2012 - 10:29 am

Congratulations on your 5th year of the TC-Ghana program! The AAC retreat sounds fascinating and I am confident that it will yield effective and sustainable practices. We are so lucky to have Cate and Miriam to lead this exploration and improve it every year. When I participated in this program 2 years ago, it changed me professionally and personally. They are not only changing perspectives and practices in Ghana, but also making better clinicians. I can’t wait to see the documentary. Bests and safe travels!

Devinn Waithe January 2, 2012 - 11:14 pm

Wow! It seems like you’ve had an exciting first couple of days. I can’t wait to read more about your Ghanaian adventures. Happy New Year to all!

Leat Ruben January 4, 2012 - 12:42 am

This sounds amazing and inspiring. Brings me back to our work in Bolivia. Enjoy every moment and I look forward to reading/ hearing about your amazing experiences there. Good luck girls!

Clement Ntim January 4, 2012 - 3:25 am

Hi Prof Crowley,
Teachers of the Unit Special Schools say a big welcome to you and your team to Ghana 2012. AKWAABA!!! We hope to meet you at the teachers retreat on Saturday 7th “AAC DAY”. We wish you all a successful trip a happy stay in Ghana.

Becky Steinhilber January 4, 2012 - 3:45 pm

Wishing the 2012 group all the best! You are doing so many wonderful things in Ghana! Looking forward to reading all about it!

Tim Erickson January 4, 2012 - 10:35 pm

Here is a link to some pictures taken by Amy Erickson. I will try and keep this album updated as she posts more.

Tim Erickson

Eliza Thompson January 5, 2012 - 10:04 pm

I was just thinking of our 2010 trip just yesterday. Glad to know you all continue to do this important work yearly. Give my love to everyone back home! Can’t wait to read the blog!

Nana Akua Owusu January 6, 2012 - 3:08 pm

Hello, it’s good that you can come to Ghana and add to your experiences while providing direct therapy support in a much needed area.

I’d, however, like to say that there is more than one ‘certified’ Speech and Language Therapist in Ghana. We have six including myself. Two recently returned to Ghana after training at the City University in the United Kingdom. They were sponsored by the School of Allied Health Sciences, University of Ghana. I hope they do contact your group so they can learn from each other and link up for future visits.

Josephine Ohenewa Bampoe January 6, 2012 - 4:07 pm

It is good to know that you are in town. I have checked your blog and I can tell that you are really gaining so much experience and seem to be enjoying every bit of it. I am a newly qualified Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) who graduated from City University,London. My colleague (Clement Amponsah) and I, who were at City together, are waiting to be employed by the School of Allied Health Science,University of Ghana, our sponsors. Ghana, at present, has about 6 SLTs and I beleive it will be good to liase with all of us on the ground before leaving.Looking forward to hearing from you.Well done for the good work.Best wishes.

Margaret Peterson January 8, 2012 - 10:07 pm

So nice to see the blog update. Glad you are settling in well in Kumasi and looking forward to hearing more. Best wishes for this leg of your journey in Ghana.

Cate Crowley January 9, 2012 - 5:02 am

To update the followers on the SLT program in Ghana, for a very long time Mr. Albert Osei Bagyina was yhe only practicing SLT in Ghana. He commutes between Accra and Kumasi each week to see patients in the two teaching hospitals here. Nana Akua Owusu qualified in England several years ago and has been practicing in Accra ever since. We have been pleased to meet with her for the past two annual visits and have been in contact to meet her on this visit. In addition We met with Jonathan Cross a US trained SLP who arrived in Ghana six months ago. Two new grads from British programs are in Ghana awaiting to be posted. Karen Wylie, an SLT from Australia, is likely to join the group. For the past five years we have been working with the deans of the Department for Allied Health Sciences and the head of ENT at the University of Ghana Korle Bu Hospital to give support to establishing the first SLT program in Ghana. Last week we met with the Deputy Minister of Health for Ghana and this was the first item on the agenda. We look forward to continued collaboration with our Ghanaian colleagues as we work towards this important goal.

Nana Akua Owusu January 9, 2012 - 9:55 am

Hi Catherine, does this mean you never met Mr Appiah? He was the SLT at the ENT dept Korle Bu Accra for a very very long time before Albert started covering once a week when he left. I think he left just before I returned to Ghana in 2007. I spent some time with him when I first came down to explore in 2005/6.

Well, I’m sure a little bit of background history always helps.

Alisha Gandhi January 10, 2012 - 6:32 pm

I’ve been following the blog, and the work you are doing is absolutely amazing. I am anxiously awaiting the next post, and I’m looking forward to hearing about your adventures when you return! You are all such an inspiration.

Nana Akua Owusu January 11, 2012 - 10:20 am

Cate and her team are doing good work and I have admiration for all the energy and organisation that is being demonstrated non stop in such little time. Earlier, I wrote to correct an error regarding the number of therapists working in Ghana. I am sorry if this message seemed to undermine Cate and the work she is doing in Ghana. On reflection, I realise I may have misdirected my frustration and sincerely apologise for any hurt caused. Cate knows a lot about the SLT situation in Ghana and so was confused why the message still read as one. As I said, there was no intended malice except that my frustration was misdirected: I did not mean to cause harm and pray that my comment has not resulted in irreversible damage. I hope you all continue to enjoy your time and the work that you are doing to improve the lives of people with SLD in Ghana and I look forward to meeting with the team tomorrow at the cleft clinic. Nana Akua

Margaret Peterson January 12, 2012 - 9:58 pm

Thank you for the wonderful updates. It sounds like you are all learning, doing important work and packing into your trip experiences and memories for a lifetime. Well done!

Clement Ntim January 14, 2012 - 11:35 pm

A big thank you to Prof. Cate Crowley and your team for all what you provided us during your “Gone to Ghana 2012” trip, especially the teachers retreat on Saturday, 7th January, 2012. The quality of professional development you provided teachers of the unit schools for special needs children in Ghana was simply fantastic. Thank you all very much and God richly bless you.

Angela Alvarez January 15, 2012 - 5:24 pm

I loved hearing about your experiences via the blog. I hope you all had a wonderful time in Ghana. It’s such a rewarding experience!

Barbara January 16, 2012 - 1:55 am

I’ve been reading the Gone to Ghana blog and thoroughly enjoying your experience along with you – both in terms of the valuable work you are doing and the cultural details that you’ve been sharing. Thank you so much for taking the time to keep us informed. I’m looking forward to hearing about Week #2 as soon as you get a chance to put the reports up!

Belinda Bukari January 18, 2012 - 8:59 am

I am indeed proud of you. We teachers in the unit schools for special needs children accross Ghana are most grateful to the team and all those who made it possible for your trip to Ghana. Teachers have confessed that they really had a wonderful workshop by learning new ways by which they can incorporate AAC into their lessons in the classroom. I, in particular was full of joy when I had a question on Assistive Devices, and how as a specialist use them to help people with any 3 different areas of disability yesterday in one of the courses am offering in my Msc. Prog.On individuals with communication difficulties, I proved to the paper that I have taken so many lessons in AAC and how to manage persons with communication difficulties for some time now by the different teams that have been coming to Ghana over the years and this year’s team is no exception. My Dist. Director of Education is meeting me on Friday to comment on the market AAC and his general comment about what you’ve been doing for Effiduasi Unit School. Parents have appointment with me on coming Friday and I hope to post their comments about this year’s trip. God bless you all!

Sarah Blackstoneis January 18, 2012 - 2:21 pm

Have enjoyed reading the blog and most recently watching the video you’ve posted on YouTube. Each offers more insight to an experience that is valuable to both Columbia students and to the students, families and teachers in Ghana. We know of Belinda’s and Clement’s work through ISAAC and the Central Coast Children’s Foundation…it makes all the difference to have these yearly visits from Cate and the Columbia staff and its talented students.
Thank you AND your sponsors for making a meaningful difference and may you continue to do so. We support your work all the way.


molly January 19, 2012 - 8:48 am

Congratulations to all of the TC students, Ghanaian teachers and collaborators,Cate and supervisors- your hard work, dedication and enthusiasm is promoting an integration of ideas that can only lead to the benefit of your students. Watching the YouTube video, I saw how the program has developed since our first trip and it touched me to see the willingness to learn from both the American and Ghanian experience of assisting individuals with communication disorders. All of you should be very proud and hopeful for the future.

Margaret Peterson January 19, 2012 - 9:49 am

As I am reading the continuation of the blog, I have been impressed by the exchange of ideas between the TC group and the Ghanaian teachers. This open communication can foster new outlooks that will help the work being done with children and those in need of therapy. It also is very empowering for the families and parents to be provided tools to help them work with their children and improve their world. This is important work on many levels. Thank you.

Keturah Trembley January 19, 2012 - 11:00 am

What an amazing experience you all are having! It is very interesting to learn about about some of the beliefs of the Ghanian culture. It is so true too that if you fail to understand how to interact in a new environments or how interactions may be preceived, it will be hard to work together positively because understanding another’s culture and their beliefs is one of the first steps to showing respect. Thank you for sharing!

Lindsay Milgram January 19, 2012 - 11:02 am

Wow! Sounds like you are really making a difference in the lives of others. I am so happy to hear that the personalized AAC system was so well received. Great job explaining its use and including the family. I love how the family can see him as a “viable communication partner once again.” Very exciting!

I can’t wait to hear more!

Kenneth Darko January 19, 2012 - 2:25 pm

I wish to state that what Prof Kate Crowley and her experienced team provided us during the 2012 AAC retreat is more that milk and honey. This is s weapon that would serve a great deal in the profession of every Special teacher. I say a big thanks and like Oliver ‘let there me more’. I wish you well in all your endeavours!!

Darko Ken January 19, 2012 - 2:59 pm

I would rather like to congratulate you for the immense contributions towards humanity.

Michelle January 19, 2012 - 7:27 pm

Every year I have enjoyed the blog updates with the TC speech clinicians working in Ghana. It brings me back five years ago when I was in Ghana enjoying the experiences, acquiring new techniques and skills that currently is being implemented. The skills and lessons that I left with from Ghana has continue to shape who I am as a Speech therapists. I look forward to continue seeing the growth of this program in Ghana.
Positive Energy Allows Constant Elevation…P.E.A.C.E

Clement Ntim January 20, 2012 - 3:47 pm

Thanks a lot Prof. Crowley and your team for the U-tube clip on the professional development you sponsored teachers in special unit schools in Ghana to undertake. It would be added to our teaching portfolio for future reference in our professional growth in AAC development. The pictures were simply wonderful. Keep up the wonderful work. Thanks.

Sara Garcia-Miles January 23, 2012 - 10:08 am

It was great to hear about the changing attitudes on individuals with disabilities. Everyone who went on this trip should be very proud to be a part of this. To be able to read about your experiences on the blog is a pleasure. What a wonderful document to have out there.

JiSu Sung January 23, 2012 - 12:08 pm

Have a wonderful trip!! This is such a great opportunity as always. I wish I could have the chance to participate in the program and expand my clinical experiences! I’m looking forward to hearing all about the work from Ghana. Best of luck!

Carolina Portuondo January 24, 2012 - 9:45 pm

Once again, congrats on the amazing job you girls did! I am sure you touched the lives of everyone you met there. I went to Bolivia last summer and I can proudly say the trip enriched my personal and professional life and was an eye opener in so many ways! I hope working and living amongst the people in Ghana showed each of you the importance of giving, instilled a deeper compassion for those in need, and created a new appreciation for the privileges we experience on a daily basis.

Belinda Bukari January 26, 2012 - 7:09 am

Hi Cate,
I had a short meeting with my District Director and he asked that I express his gratitude to you for the wonderful work you and your team have been doing over the years.
Parents are very grateful to you and the people of Effiduasi are talking about the market AAC Activity. They are indeed happy that children with Intellectual Disability could shop with little or no supervision at all.
Everyone is happy about this wonderful project.

Danielle Lake January 26, 2012 - 4:57 pm

I have been following the blog and I am so happy to see how this program is growing into something truly amazing. I am so proud of all of you and the great work being done for the people of Ghana. I can’t wait to see the full length feature film of this wonderful experience! Go Dr. Crowley and the 2012 graduate clinicians! 🙂

Teresa Woods January 26, 2012 - 10:57 pm

It has been amazing to follow your trip and the very important work that you are doing to effectuate far-reaching and sustainable change in Ghana year after year. Your program is a model not only for Speech and Language practitioners but for everyone out there working on cross-cultural issues at home and abroad. Thank you for blogging and sharing your experiences with all of us. You are an inspiring group!!

Warm regards,

Teresa M. Woods, Esq.
Clinical Teaching Fellow/Visiting Instructor
Human Rights and Genocide Clinic
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
55 Fifth Avenue, Rm. 906
New York, NY 10003

Cate Crowley March 1, 2012 - 9:42 pm

Here is a link to a youtube video (less than 3 minutes) of one of the days we spent with the cleft palate team at Korle Bu, University of Ghana, Jan. 12, 2012.


Nana Akua Owusu March 4, 2012 - 5:44 am

Thanks for sharing your experience here on youtube, Catherine. Interesting seeing it on video like this. A great learning experience for us all. Many of the patients you see, at the Cleft Palate Clinic, when you come down remember the advice and information given and continue to apply them to help their children. A couple of parents have said their children have improved because they have continued with the exercises shown them by the ‘abrofo’ who came here. Thanks for making the work that much lighter for us here. God bless.

Cate Crowley March 7, 2012 - 7:57 pm

Miriam Baigorri and I received the 2012 Humanitarian Award from the National Council of Ghanaian Associations for our work in Ghana. It was an exciting, and very humbling night.

Here is an article on it.


Imari Brown July 25, 2012 - 9:26 pm

Hello all,
I recently met a girl who reminded me of the children at Effeduasi Methodist School. I received her on my caseload towards the end of the year. Brianna is in 3rd grade (a holdover at 10 years old), “non-verbal” as per our school psychologist, and never a candidate for speech therapy because “she didn’t talk and was unable to test,” -school psychologist. She went for an evaluation this year, and was deemed a candidate. The truth is that Brianna has a tremendous amount of communicative intent, however she hasn’t acquired the semantic and morphosyntactic knowledge to support her expressive language.

At her annual review meeting, I probed Brianna’s mother about the important communal activities Brianna enjoys. Lo and behold, going to the bodega alone to buy things was an activity of significance in this family, just like the parents in Ghana who wanted to send their children to the market. I created sessions around “the corner store” in which we labeled items she would buy in the store, practiced money transactions, asked/answered questions, etc… We created a lexicon on index cards with visual cues and used real dollar bills to practice. I called Brianna’s mom to explain our activity and asked if we (mom, Brianna, and I) could go to the bodega, after 3:30, across the street from our school to extend the activity. At the store, Brianna found what she wanted and used our system to communicate her needs. The clerk was patient with her and impressed at her attempt to make herself understood. Brianna’s mom is confident to send Brianna to the store alone and really glad that I decided to work on functional communication of daily living on top of academic goals. Since theme based sessions about the bodega worked so successfully, I created similar situations in which Brianna had to communicate herself if she became lost in the building (a big fear of mine!). We explored the concept of lost, read a story about a child who was separated from a group, created a meaningful lexicon of what to communicate if she got lost, and made cards that described being lost and needing to find Ms. Dinkins’ class. Then we practiced in the hallways of our school with familiar adults in the building.

Brianna is in a self-contained class in a community school, just like our kids in Ghana! Her sessions reminded me of our trip and caused me to pull on so many of the skills I learned when we were in Africa. I always understood why special ed. inclusion was important, but now I believe it even more. I try to think of Brianna as an independent, grown-up woman. And I ask myself how will she contribute to society in a meaningful way, to her best potential. I think the store activity opened the beginnings of this conversation with her mom, something I’ll work on next year!

Comments are closed.