When Adwoa Yeboah and her husband boarded a bus heading home after business meetings in nearby towns, she didn’t know that an ordinary successful day would turn out to be a tragic tale.
Adwoa who lives in Ohwimase Hilltop in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, trades in fruits. She used to make daily trips to Mfensi, one of her neighbouring towns. This time, she went with her husband.
After their meeting, at the station, the bus was not full; buses in Ghana leave only when their vehicle is full. But the driver decided to begin the journey home anyway, she recalls.
“The car was not full when we were returning, so the driver kept picking passengers by the roadside.”
She was also pregnant in her third trimester.
“At some point, we picked a middle-aged man carrying two barrels and three galloons.”
The barrels contained acid and the gallons, a locally-made alcoholic beverage called Akpeteshie. “I found out later that the man was somebody who produced herbal medicines,” Adwoa says.
It was not too long after the brakes of the bus failed to stop the fast moving vehicle on the highway.
“The driver lost control of the steering wheel and the bus somersaulted multiple times. The bus crashed into a tree; we were drenched in Akpeteshie and acid.”
“The bus caught fire,” she says. And this was the last time Adwoa Yeboah was conscious.
She woke up in a hospital bed bandaged from head to toe. Still pregnant, she was the only survivor of the accident. Her husband did not make it.
“I was left to recover but I had burning sensations all over, the pain was just unbearable.”
So, Adwoa gave in.
“I pleaded with the doctors to kill me.”
But the doctors refused to give up on her. “They did all they could to save me. I underwent plastic surgery after plastic surgery,” she says.
That was not all for Adwoa. A turbulent delivery of her twins brought her anxiety and frightened her as the pains grew during recovery. But she had to give birth.
“Because of the accident my due date was delayed, I cannot find words to describe the excruciating pain I went through.”
“I couldn’t relate to the saying that ‘life is tough’ until my due date arrived,” she added.
As a high-risk patient, she could not push out the babies nor could she be operated on because she had recently undergone multiple surgeries.
Her situation left medical officers at the hospital in a dilemma. They resorted to vacuum extraction – a type of assisted delivery.
“I couldn’t push out my twins, they were pulled out.”
Being a new mother came with its challenges; Adwoa had to take care of twins by herself and the hospital bills needed to be paid.
“My husband and I bought land but when the incident happened, I had to sell it to pay for the hospital bills, no family member came in to assist.”
“Now I am left with nothing and with my current appearance, there is no way anyone would want to employ me,” Adwoa Yeboah added.
As a resourceful woman, Adwoa turned to self-employment to keep her family going. To earn a living, the mother of three fetches water for neighbouring households.
“I had to do something because as a new mother I needed to eat well for breast milk and also feed my children but there was no money. So I go to the stream to fetch water for people. Sometimes, I wash people’s dirty clothes so I can get some GHS5 ($0.85) for the day.”
“I have been so broke that at some point, I was using black polythene bags as diapers for the twins” she added.
Unfortunately, when things get really tough for Adwoa she resorts to beggin by the roadside.
“Sometimes, I have severe body pains, no energy to do anything so I just go out begging for alms, some give me but others too shy away when they see me coming.”