Catholic Humanitarian Entity in Ghana Rehabilitates 60 Street Children in COVID-19 Project
About 50 children who roamed streets in Ghana have benefitted from a Catholic Church-run project that seeks to reduce the risk of COVID-19 contagion on the Ghanaian streets and at the same time to rehabilitate street children in the west African country.
The initiative is part of a response to COVID-19 by Safe-Child Advocacy, a Catholic Humanitarian Organization owned by Ghana’s Kumasi Archdiocese and managed by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul Sisters.
In a report shared with ACI Africa on Monday, October 26, Sr. Olivia Umoh who is the Director of Safe-Child Advocacy Project notes that to the children on the streets, COVID-19 pandemic has not been just a global health crisis but “a daily struggle for survival.”
“Although the fear of contacting the virus is a major concern, their inability to find work, food and access other basic needs of life have compounded their hardship in these critical times,” Sr. Olivia says in the report.
The report covers activities of the third phase of her organization’s relief program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic covering the period between June 1 and September 20.
The member of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul notes that although the lockdown restrictions had been eased, the lives of street connected children and other vulnerable persons remained adversely affected.
“Conditions of street connected children and vulnerable persons continue to grow from bad to worse each day as the global economic landscape gets tighter,” Sr. Olivia says, noting that it is against the backdrop of this suffering that the humanitarian organization has continued to render support services to the very poor and vulnerable in the community.
The charity organization had managed to reach out to hundreds of vulnerable groups, including the elderly, people living with disabilities and street families and had now focused its attention on particular street children who needed reintegration into society.
The organization has, during the COVID-19 lockdown in the country, assisted 60 beneficiaries to leave the streets and helped them through reintegration processes with their respective families.
Of these, 50 children expressed an interest in employable skills training and have been enrolled in training of their choice such as hairdressing, makeup artistry, dressmaking, and cloth weaving.
In the report about the skills training beneficiaries, Safe-Child Project Director says, “Our team visited families of all beneficiaries to ensure proper reintegration and family support.”
She adds, “Beneficiaries who expressed interest in education were equally visited and parents encouraged supporting the children, and desisting from pushing them back to the streets or forcing them into early marriages.”
The organization has also assured the beneficiaries of sponsorship in training colleges once the government re-opens institutions of learning after the COVID-19 lockdown.
Families in the West African country have also been informed on the benefits of education to the children, the families and the community at large.
“Families were entreated to take responsibilities for the upbringing of their children and support the children to realize their potentials,” Sr. Olivia says in the report shared with ACI Africa.
She continues, “The team seized the opportunity to sensitize families on child streetism, trafficking, early child marriage, forced marriage, and advised parents to desist from such behavior, which violates the rights of the child and which is detrimental to the wellbeing of children.”
Safe-Child Advocacy (formerly, Street Children Project) also continues to reach out to other children on the streets, providing daily meals to hundreds of children on the streets in Ghana.
The Sisters of Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul who work tirelessly on the project have also created a COVID-19 free environment at the drop-in centers that now allow for safe distancing to prevent the spread of the virus.
Sr. Olivia notes that after the lifting of the lockdown restrictions, children from the streets trooped into the collection center in large numbers, creating the fear of the spread of the virus.
“We became alarmed as this was going to pose a health threat, as well as violating social distancing measures,” Sr. Olivia says, and adds, “We had been resolute in supporting government efforts to curb the spread of the Corona virus in Ghana. We did not want our Center to be the avenue to aggravate the situation of the pandemic in the country.”
The nun further says, “Until recently, we had just one canopy in the courtyard of our drop-in center, which could take a maximum of 50 persons with no social distancing. We watched with worry and fear as children gathered under the one canopy without observing proper social distancing.”
Unable to enforce COVID-19 restrictions at the drop-in center, the Sisters constructed extra canopies (roof like structures) in a bid to hold as many numbers of street children as possible in a safe manner.
“Today, children who come into our Center have access to a safe, hygienic environment for rest during the day,” Sr. Olivia says.
She adds, “The drop-in center has been equipped with wash-hand basins and soaps where children can practice hand washing and other personal hygiene to create a healthy environment for beneficiaries and service providers.”
Established in 2005 with a vision of ensuring that all children live, grow and are cared for within homes, Safe-Child Advocacy aims at addressing the issue of vulnerable children living on the streets of Kumasi, the capital city of Ghana’s Ashanti Region.
Source: ACI Africa
Find below details of the phase 3 Response of COVID-19 Report