We’ve been working in Ghana since 1999 to support the most marginalised street-connected children and children with disabilities. For vulnerable pregnant women and young mothers, we create safe spaces, empower them with business training and provide a nurturing environment for their children. Children with disabilities too often miss out on essential early childhood development, so we’re working to make these ECD services inclusive.
of 5-7 year olds have to work.
Children connected to the street in Accra alone.
of children with a disability are out of school.
Supporting street-connected girls who have children of their own
Most of the 61,500 children and young people living on the streets of Accra are girls. They often travel from rural areas to find work. But when they arrive, they have nowhere to stay. Without an education they often work as “Kayaye” (head porters), carrying heavy loads and earning very little for a long day’s work. Poverty leaves them vulnerable to exploitation and many end up engaging in sex work to survive, where they face abuse and violence. These conditions mean many street girls end up having children themselves.
The Young Mothers Support Centre
In 2020 we opened the Young Mothers Support Centre, a new multi-purpose building which provides critical support for 90 pregnant street-connected girls, along with a training centre and a creche. Run by our partner S.AID, it is the only one of its kind in Accra and offers pregnant young women antenatal and post-natal services, counselling and meals.
Young mothers are also provided with a range of vocational training opportunities and life skills classes to empower them financially, allowing them to be independent, plan for the future and support their child. Read more about the centre.
Kayaye in Accra
Vocational training at the centre
Pregnant women, young mothers and their children received essential food packages under lockdown. Will you help us to continue to provide ongoing support?
Early childhood development for all children
A cycle of poverty and neglect leaves children of all ages 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 fall behind in their development. Living on the streets can lead to learning disabilities, so it’s important that early childhood development services meet the needs of children with disabilities.
We support two early childhood development centres
With our partner, S.AID, we run two ECD centres in Accra for children aged 0-6. Children who arrive at the centres 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.
Inclusive education for children with disabilities
There is a lack of research on the mental wellbeing of street-connected children. However, we know that trauma from living on the streets can lead to learning disabilities. We also know that 1 in 3 children with a disability are out of school. So, we’re developing a plan to conduct better research into the prevalence of development delays and disabilities among street-connected children in low-income communities. We’ll advocate for children with special learning needs and partner with ECD centres to enrol vulnerable children with complex disabilities, while supporting the Government’s inclusive ECD strategy.
ECD outreach during Covid-19 closures
Street connected children aged 0-6 reached with inclusive early childhood development support in 2019. £25 could provide ten of these children with three meals a day for a week at an ECD centre.
Our response during Covid-19
Lockdowns have had a particularly negative affect on street children, many of whom have become displaced and have difficulty accessing food. S.AID have had to close the Young Mothers Support Centre and the ECD centres.
We’re working with all partners at both organisational and project implementation levels to ensure we can all better adapt to the changes brought on by the crisis. With S.AID, we have been focused on completing the construction of the new Young Mother’s Support Centre which is bigger and can therefore house more girls whilst maintaining social distancing rules. The need for such a safe space for vulnerable young mothers and their babies is greater now more than ever. Through our Response Fund, food supplies have reached 221 vulnerable pregnant women, young mothers and children.
Face masks were made and distributed to mothers involved in our projects through our Covid-19 Response Fund.