The streets are stealing children’s futures
61,500 children and young people are growing up living and working on Accra’s streets
Every day in Ghana, young women and girls make the journey from their home in the rural north to the capital city, Accra. Some are just twelve years old. They’re looking for work, sometimes to earn an income which they can send back to their family in the north. For others, they’ve moved away to escape their life in the north. Some have faced child marriage. But most arrive without accommodation and have to sleep on the streets, or in make-shift structures without any amenities like water, toilets and electricity.
Many can only find work as kayaye (head porters) in markets or on the streets. They carry heavy loads, working long hours but earning very little. They’re used for cheap labour, yet stigmatised by the rest of society. In poverty, they become easy prey for criminals who seek to exploit them. Many girls end up pregnant, often through rape or after being forced to sell their bodies to survive.
Lumisu and her son, Ebo
Lumisu gave birth to her son when she was just 15. The father denied Ebo was his, and ran away. She had dreamed of becoming a nurse, but after her father stopped paying her school fees Lumisu left her home in Zua, Northern Ghana, and travelled to Accra.
In Accra, Lumisu joined other women from the north in working as a kayaye in the market. But she wasn’t able to earn enough to look after herself and her young child. Having to carry Ebo around made it difficult to find work. She struggled to earn enough money for them to eat.
The dirty streets are no place for a child to grow up, and leave devastating scars on children’s mental and physical health. Ebo was facing a childhood without enough food, and little clean water. He was carried on his mother’s back in the hot sun for hours on end. Suffering from malnutrition, Ebo wasn’t developing. At 18 months old, he couldn’t walk.
Thankfully, this is where Lumisu and Ebo’s story changed. They were spotted in the market by a street outreach worker from our partner, Street Girls Aid. They told Lumisu about a centre we support, which provides safety, nutrition, and education to young street-connected children like Ebo.
At the centre, Ebo was given three nutritious meals a day. His health quickly improved! Not only can he now walk, but he runs around with the other children and loves singing and dancing.
With Ebo getting the support which is so vital to his development, Lumisu was able to find a job meaning she could earn more to support them. Her dream is for her son to one day go to university.
“I have seen so much change in him. He doesn’t need to be carried all the time and he loves singing and dancing. I am very relieved.”
Lumisu told us.
of children at the ECD centres had reached all their key learning milestones in 2019!
£25 could provide ten children at the centre with a week of healthy meals.
Young mothers like Lumisu deserve support too
Young mothers like Lumisu deserve more than a life of just scraping by. So we link mothers of children at the centre to the Young Mothers Support Centre. Here, women can access psychological support and learn new skills!
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. Lumisu was supported to find work, helping her provide for herself and her son. 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.
Breaking the cycle of poverty
Our work is making a lasting change to generations of children. The support they receive at the centre means they can go on to sit the compulsory primary school exams and access education. Hundreds of children like Ebo gain opportunities they would never have received growing up on the streets!
This means that we can break the cycle of poverty and prevent future generations from growing up on the streets.
Together we can prevent children growing up on the streets.
£20 could support outreach staff to find hidden mothers and children, like Lumisu and Ebo, who need our support.
£40 could buy a training kit for two young street-connected women in Accra, with everything they need to learn a skill such as hairdressing or tailoring.