Chance for Childhood has been working in Ghana since 1999, running several projects aimed at helping street children. Our focus is on ensuring children of young street mothers have access to quality inclusive pre-school education.
- Population: 28.8 million, of which 14.2% are under 5.
- Human Development Index: 140 out of 188.
- 12% of the population lives on less than £1.50 a day.
- There are 61,500 street connected children in Accra alone.
- 20% of 5 to 17 year olds have to work.
Despite steady economic growth, the wealth divide in Ghana is increasing. Many families are left struggling to provide basic necessities for their children and end up living on the streets. Changes to farming seasons and increasing land pressures force many families from poor, rural regions in the North to migrate to the capital, Accra. Once there, their lack of skills forces them into low-paid, dangerous labour.
Giving a better start in life to street toddlers and young children
This vicious cycle of poverty and neglect increases the likelihood of children ending up on the streets. Babies and toddlers grow up without running water, food or regular changing. They can suffer abuse, incur injuries in the market where their mum works, contract diseases and lack the pre-school education they need to pass the compulsory exam into primary school.
Without access to early childhood development services and an education, street children have little prospect of a better future.
WHAT WE’RE DOING
We support children aged 0-6 across three early childhood development (ECD) centres in Accra. It is critical that children have access to quality ECD services so they can have the best start possible.
Children who arrive at the nurseries are often underweight, so three nutritious meals a day ensure that children can grow and develop as they should. Clean water, soap and bins are also available in classrooms to educate children about sanitation.
Children don’t just learn basic literacy and numeracy, but also skills like listening, sharing, instilling a love of learning and a chance to explore their creativity and inquisitiveness. Older children are prepared to pass the compulsory primary school entrance exam.
Enrolling the children at the ECD centres also has a positive impact on mothers’ capacity to earn an income and the child‘s ability to develop motor, language and social skills.
Supporting street girls who have children of their own
57% of the 61,500 children living on the streets of Accra are girls. Without an education, these girls often work as “Kayaye” or head porters, carrying heavy loads and earning as little as 8p for a day’s work. Poverty and a lack of stability leaves them vulnerable to exploitation, and many end up engaging in sex work to survive. Sexual violence and abuse on the streets are a regular occurrence. These conditions mean many street girls end up having children themselves.
WHAT WE’RE DOING
We’re helping pregnant street girls and young vulnerable mums make a sustainable change in their lives at the House of Refuge, a safe-haven away from the streets. Pregnant street girls and young mothers benefit from anti-natal and post-natal services, counselling and emotional support, meals and various types of vocational training (e.g. catering, dress making, hairdressing).
A comprehensive parenting training is also provided to young street mothers to equip them with the right knowledge, attitude and skills to care for their children and support their education. As a result, the use of corporal punishment as discipline is greatly reduced.
Before joining this training, I once beat my little child so hard that she went unconscious. I had to pour water on her and send her to the hospital before she regained consciousness. If I had the knowledge that I have now on good parenting, I would not have done such a thing.
The existing shelter had to be partially demolished in 2018, due to irremediable cracks and faults in the building. We have secured funding to help rebuild the refuge in 2019 – the new multi-purpose structure will provide critical urgent support for pregnant street girls and young vulnerable mothers, along with a training centre and a creche.
In the past I used to worry a lot having my child strapped on my back the whole day in the hot sun whilst carrying heavy loads. I used to have severe back pains and cannot work for longer hours. But now when I send my child to the school I am comfortable that he is in a safe environment learning and playing until I go back for him.