Girls living and working on the streets of Accra face life threatening challenges every day. Some as young as 12 years old, they often migrate from other parts of the country to find work. But most arrive without decent accommodation, and have to sleep on the streets or in make-shift structures without any amenities like water, toilets and electricity. They become easy prey for criminals who seek to exploit them.
Every day we see gender-based violence, exploitation, teenage pregnancy and malnutrition. Many end up pregnant, often through rape or after being forced to sell their bodies to survive. They carry the additional burden of pregnancy with no access to their basic needs of food, shelter, medical care and health services. In a country where maternal mortality is unacceptably high (there are an estimated 378 deaths per 100,000 births), pregnant street-connected girls need our urgent support.
The new Young Mothers Support Centre
Before the new building opened, the girls were sleeping in the former dining facility (left).
We support our partner, Street Girls Aid, to run the Young Mothers Support Centre in Accra. They provide shelter and ante-natal and post-natal support for high risk pregnant street-connected girls. But in 2018, the old building had to be demolished after becoming structurally unsafe. So, we set out to build a new centre with the help of our generous supporters, including those who backed our House of Refuge crowdfunder in 2019!
The new, ultra-modern and multipurpose building housing the Young Mothers support Centre has been completed and opened in August! The new centre provides a safe and secure home where girls are met with love and acceptance. Comprehensive services are provided to meet their needs and empower them to make successful life decisions for them and their children. Pregnant teenage street girls and young mothers receive counselling and are educated on reproductive health, family planning and personal hygiene.
The difference the new building will make
The centre provides a safe space during this difficult time and strictly observes local Covid-19 protocols such as social distancing, face masks and regular hand washing. Without the centre, for girls living on the streets, these safety measures would be impossible to follow and they would be at an increased risk.
Teenage girls at the centre are enrolled in vocational training, where they can learn a skill which will help them to earn an income in the future. During the pandemic, girls taking sewing training have produced 1,500 reusable face masks which have been distributed to women and children on the streets! Others have been learning how to make soap and hand sanitisers, and will be able to sell these in the local market.
Socially distanced vocational training at the Young Mothers Support Centre
We are so grateful to all our incredible donors, our partner Street Girls Aid, Citizen Architects and everyone who supported us to provide this essential lifeline for pregnant young women.
Ghana Country Representative