Amid COVID-19, Safe-Child Advocacy Turns Street Girls in Kumasi into Entrepreneurs
In the dark days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Catholic Archdiocese of Kumasi’s number one humanitarian organization, Safe-Child Advocacy (Safe-Child), formerly Street Children Project embarked on an aggressive street education, encouraging children in street situation in Kumasi to return home in order to stay safe from contracting the virus.
Most girls encountered by the street workers of the Safe-Child Advocacy have been expressing fear that they may be forced into early marriages by their families if they returned home. Others have expressed fears of rejection by their families because their families expect them to work in Kumasi to support their livelihoods.
According to the management of Safe-Child, they (street girls) have the fear also that going home would inflict much sufferings on their families. In view of that, Safe-Child field workers resolutely counselled girls who indicated interest in leaving the street and assured them of their readiness to support them all the way.
Within a period of three months from April to July 2020, Safe- Child field workers have facilitated the quitting of over 60 girls from the streets of Kumasi and reintegrated them with their families and communities.
“What is particularly interesting about the intervention undertaken by the humanitarian organisation is that 60 young girls returned home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Safe-Child is able to support all 50 enroll in skill training through the COVID-19 response fund,” Sr. Olivia Umoh, DC, Director of Safe-Child Advocacy of Ghana’s Catholic Archdiocese of Kumasi told Newswatchgh. com in an exclusive interview on October 3, 2020.
This project, she said was particularly supported by Wilde Ganzen and Adamfo Ghana, both Netherlands-based organizations, which committed much resources to support our COVID-19 Response Relief Programme since March 2020.
Sr. Umoh noted that “For girls to courageously quit the street, they need to have alternative source of livelihood. Children/young persons who wanted to leave the street during these periods were offered sponsorship in skill training or formal education depending on their choices.”
Giving an outline of interventions undertaken by the organisation, she told Newswatchgh.com on October 3, 2020 that “Consequently, fifty (50) of the girls who decided to leave the street during COVID-19 pandemic era, have been enrolled in the last few weeks into apprenticeship in skill training areas of their choices.”
“Full training fees have been paid and they have been given training materials in the form of sewing machines, weaving machines, hairdressing equipment and other learning materials needed to facilitate learning,” she pointed out.
She added that “The other 10 girls are of school going age and would like to access formal education.
Safe-Child is committed to equally support them when school resumes in full.”
“These interventions were made possible through the wonderful collaboration of two like-minded organizations in the Northern Region of Ghana, the African Development Organization for Migrant (AFDOM) and Yankoro Youth Development Organization, that have facilitated the enrolment of these wonderful 50 girls,” she explained to newswatchgh.com.
AFDOM field staff judiciously followed up with girls who returned home by visiting their families, meeting with family members and community leaders to educate them on the dangers on the street and the additional threat posed by COVID-19 pandemic.
Sr. Olivia Umoh, who is member of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul told Newswatchgh.com that families have been made to accept the choices of girls to return home into development activities.”
“Family education focused on getting girls and family members to realize the need for self-development whether through formal education or engaging in employable skill training,” she said.
Adding, she noted that “It has been reiterated to girls and their families that although they may not be engaged in jobs that earn them money at the moment, on completion of their training, they would have acquired skills with which they would be in position to generate income which would sustain themselves and their families.”
With zeal and commitment, staff of Safe-Child Advocacy had earlier followed up on the returnees sometime in July, 2020 to get the commitment of their families to support the girls through the 2 to 3 years’ period the trainings are stipulated to last. The organisation signed parental agreement forms with the families of beneficiaries and client agreement forms with the trainees themselves.
According to the Catholic Nun Director of Safe-Child Advocacy, “trainers were not left out in this exercise of stakeholders authenticating their commitments.
Safe-Child staff assures these stakeholders of their commitment to support the girls(trainees) through the period of training and to further support them to set up their individual businesses on successful completion of training.”
She noted that “Safe-Child Advocacy has a collaborative agreement with AFDOM to carry out regular follow up of these and all other children supported in skill training and formal education in the Northern Region of Ghana, particularly around Tamale and the surrounding districts.”
As an organization, Safe-Child Advocacy places high value in collaboration as a productive approach in delivering effective social services to target groups, thus, it engaged with Yankoro Youth Development Organization in the training of some of the beneficiaries. Yankoro supports the young girls to enroll in their skill training Centre and their families with counselling and other moral support.
Safe-Child Advocacy, which was established in 2005 also collaborates with other organizations in the Northern Region to facilitate their support to beneficiaries in various needs. These organizations include Centre for Initiative Against Human Trafficking and Centre for Development and Policy Advocacy (CEDEPA) and some of the Metropolitan/Municipal/District Assemblies of the various localities where we support children in the Northern Regions of Ghana.