Bintu moved to Accra with her two youngest children in 2014. She didn’t know anyone in the capital city but hoped to find work there so she could support her family. She sold sachets of water and carried goods on her head as a porter to make money. But she never had enough left over each week to send her children to school so they either followed her as she worked or sat at home idle.
“What I was earning in the north could not cater for the needs of my children. I said to myself: ‘Let me come to Accra and start hawking so that I can enrol my children in school.’ I didn’t go to school as a child and those people that have gone to school, their children don’t suffer like ours. But to be frank, when I first came here they were not going to school.”
A friend spotted Bintu at work with her children and told her about a kindergarten she could send her daughters to. It is run by Street Girls Aid, the local partner of Chance for Childhood that receives money raised through Red Nose Day. The project supports parents and provides good quality early years teaching to children who would not otherwise be getting an education. It proved to be a lifeline.
“My daughter wasn’t doing anything. She wasn’t attending school, she was only playing in the house. But after I brought her here, I saw there were benefits and carried on bringing her here. I am really happy because they are helping my daughter. My mind is always with anyone who helps my children. This help is not a joke. My prayer is that she should continue her education. I never want her to quit.”
Even if Bintu did not have enough money to cover the school’s lunch fee, her daughters were never turned away. Her youngest is still at the kindergarten and the centre helped her oldest, Kasha*, to enrol in primary school, buy a uniform and pay fees. Bintu continues to work as a porter to support her children however she can and now has high hopes for her daughters’ future.
“I want to carry my stock and hawk just to sponsor my children. Because I am praying that this suffering ends on me alone. These children, I don’t want them to suffer. Let it end here. I don’t want my children to hawk as I do. That is always my wish. Kasha wants to be a nurse when she grows up. Her favourite subject is English.”
*names have been changed
A recent census found there are more than 30,000 young girls living and working on the streets of Accra, the capital of Ghana. Many have small children to support.
Based in Accra, Ghana, Street Girls Aid provides good quality early years education services, including pre-primary education, to children of these young mothers.
Comic Relief helps to fund a number of their services, from early years education, to peer support groups for parents, awareness raising, skills training and saving and loans schemes to help families escape poverty.