In September of 2003, Molly Ola Pinney moved to Ghana to continue providing ABA therapy services for a child she worked with in Seattle. When his family decided to move to Ghana, the care of their child with Autism was a concern. To address this concern, they felt their only option was to bring their own therapist to Ghana with them. After being in Ghana for less than two months, several families had sought Molly's assistance in gaining resources to help their children.
One Ghanaian mother whose child was diagnosed while briefly living outside of the country told Molly: "When my child was diagnosed with Autism, I would have preferred the diagnosis was a terminal illness, I was so scared. It has taken me years to get to the point of talking about it without breaking down."
Though she felt alone and isolated, she was not. Stories like hers were overwhelmingly shared. These stories kept Molly up at night and it was from them that the Global Autism Project was born! The answer seemed simple; the implementation has been gradual and deliberate:
In January of 2005, a M.Ed Level Country Director moved to Ghana who worked full time in the centre until May of 2005 providing training in ABA methodologies. Molly returned to the US where she and Renee Beus (an ACA kayak instructor) launched the Paddle For Autism Awareness, our signature fundraising event.
This was also the summer that Nic Fox, a childhood friend of Molly's joined the project! Nic had recently finished his US Peace Corps. assignment in Mali, and decided that he was not ready to leave West Africa. While Molly moved to NYC to continue her education, Nic moved to Ghana to support AACT's business and fundraising practices and prepare them to officially begin to accept volunteers.
Nearly nine years later, the Global Autism Project has responded to calls for help in local capacity building in three other countries. In 2009, SOREM in Chandigarh, India became a partner, and a year later Kenya joined us. We've most recently welcomed Peru as a service site this year and look forward to being able to partner with others working tirelessly for these children all over the world.
The Global Autism Project has defined itself as an organization truly committed to not only providing services to local autism centers in under-resourced areas worldwide, but working to affect change on a systemic level throughout the countries in which we work.
To learn more about our mission, vision and current work, please browse our website.