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Written by Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Sean Qualls
Emmanuel’s Dream tells the remarkable true story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah and how he changed the society of Ghana by empowering those with disabilities. Born in Ghana with a deformed leg, people saw the boy as useless and even a curse. His father left the family but his mother, Comfort, stood by Emmanuel.
She told her son that he could get anything but he would have to get it for himself. So Emmanuel learned to crawl and hop, to fetch water and climb trees. His mother carried him to school every day until he got too heavy. From then on Emmanuel hopped two miles to school and back every day. He learned to play soccer and ride a bike.
When his mother got sick, 13-year-old Emmanuel went to the city of Accra all by himself to earn money for his family, working in a restaurant and shining shoes. After two years he went home to be with his mother when she died.
“Be respectful, take care of your family, don’t ever beg. And don’t give up.”
His mother’s last words inspired Emmanuel to follow his – seemingly impossible – dream to bicycle around Ghana. He found a sponsor for a bike, a helmet and other cycling equipment, and even managed to get a royal blessing from the king.
In ten days Emmanuel pedaled 400 miles across Ghana, through bustling cities, over rolling hills and across muddy rivers, followed by a support taxi with his best friend and supplies. People everywhere cheered him on and many disabled people left their houses for the first time to meet him.
Once thought of as useless and cursed, Emmanuel was now a national hero.
With powerful text and and bold ink-and-watercolour collages, Emmanuel’s Dream is an inspiring book about resilience, perseverance and overcoming adversity. It gives children the universal message that disability does not mean inability.
The book includes an author’s note and is suitable for ages 4 to 8.
Emmanuel Osofu Yeboah’s life story was also made into an award-winning documentary, Emmanuel’s Gift, narrated by Oprah Winfrey.
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