We’re providing creches for street girls in Accra who have babies or small children of their own. Life on the streets is dirty and dangerous enough for most adults. It’s no place for children, especially very young ones who have no other choice and who have known no other life. We’re helping young mums and pregnant girls to escape life on the streets and give their children a better life.
Supporting street girls who have children of their own
Ghana is a relatively successful and affluent country by sub-Saharan standards. But like in many countries, the prosperity is not evenly distributed and there has been a steady exodus of people from poor rural areas to the towns and cities, in search of jobs and a better standard of living for their families. But many don’t find the riches or success they were looking for and there has been a sharp increase in the number of people living and working on the streets. In 2011 there were estimated to be over 61,000 street children in the capital Accra, up from just over 4,000 in 1990.
Over half of these children are believed to be girls. They are especially vulnerable to sexual violence and abuse on the streets, and many end up having children themselves as a result of violence, prostitution or relationships with other street children.
These babies and very young children know nothing other than poverty and hardship. They’re often neglected during the day as their mothers have to find a way of earning the money to feed them. They’re susceptible to disease and malnourishment and they don’t get the chance to play and learn like other children. Although Primary Education is free in Ghana, nurseries are not. Yet without a good start in life, many children risk failing the tests to even allow them to go to Primary School in the first place.
What we’re doing
Creches for the children of street girls
Almost all experts agree that ‘Early Childhood Development’ (ECD) is a vital stage in children’s lives. Getting off to a good start lays the foundations for the rest of their education and their whole lives. That’s why pre-school education and support is so important. Unicef studies show that ECD is an investment, not a cost. An investment of £1 in a child’s early development will ‘return’ £4-5 in terms of the rewards of their better academic performance and earnings when they graduate.
Your money helps by supporting three creches for the babies and toddlers of street children. The creches provide a safe haven, proper meals and a loving, nurturing environment. They also play an absolutely vital role in the children’s early childhood development – which is especially important given their chaotic upbringing. The creches help prepare the children for the more formal environment of mainstream primary schools. Not just in teaching them basic literacy and numeracy, but also skills like listening, sharing, instilling a love of learning and a chance to explore their creativity and inquisitiveness.
Savings and loans schemes for the young mothers
Supporting the children’s early childhood development is a vital intervention, but to make a sustainable change in their lives we’re also helping their mothers to provide for them properly. We’re enrolling them into vocational training courses so they can earn a living for them and their young families. We run savings and loans schemes where the mothers can group their savings together and the pool of money can be loaned out some of them to start a small business. They then repay the loan and interest on it, and the money is reinvested into the group.
This way we’re helping the young mothers to get off the streets and find some stable and secure living arrangements. This may mean reintegrating them into their family home, or setting them up with a place of their own once they are earning enough to pay the rent and keep their children in creche/school and well provided for.
This project is funded by Comic Relief