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Efua Asibon ’16 — Ghana

Advocate for the ‘Dislabelled’

Efua Asibon ’16 came up with of the idea for the nonprofit she co-founded, Dislabelled, while still in high school. As a freshman at Swarthmore, she received a $4,000 grant from the Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility that she used toward funding the nonprofit’s first project, a summer arts and robotics program for Ghanaian students with autism.

“In Ghana, there’s a lot of stigma attached to people with disabilities,” says Asibon. “What we’re trying to do is to remove the labels, sort of disable the label that has been placed on them.

“We are very much into making them self-sufficient and helping them to be more productive—to let everybody see that if you give them the right skills and support, they can do the work.”

Dislabelled is raising money to open a skills institute in Ghana for adults with physical disabilities. Asibon says the planned Dislabelled DREAM Institute will provide training in business, digital skills, and basketry, and employ graduates to weave baskets that can be sold as a source of sustaining revenue.

In 2017, Asibon was recognized with the Queen’s Young Leader Award, an honor that “discovers, celebrates, and supports exceptional young people” from across the British Commonwealth. Apart from her work on Dislabelled, Asibon is an account manager for Facebook in Ireland. She earned a master’s degree in international development and humanitarian emergencies from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

“Growing up, I always saw people with disabilities on the streets of Accra,” says Asibon. “I never saw them when I went to church; I never saw them when I went to the cinema or when I was hanging out with friends in restaurants or in school.

“I thought it was worrying that they were marginalized from society. That really, really got to me, and I just felt like I needed to do something about it. I’m someone who fights injustice.”     

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