When Adjoa’s sister died three years ago, she moved to Accra to support her two nieces. She brought her two youngest children with her to Ghana’s capital city and started selling charcoal to make money. Life was tough and there was nothing spare at the end of each week so she could not afford to send her daughter, Sharifa*, to school. The young girl was seven at the time and mostly helped with chores at home and sold charcoal if her mother had to do errands.
“When we came here there were financial problems. We didn’t have any money so that made me stop sending Sharifa to school. I only sell charcoal. When I am not around, my daughter takes over. She doesn’t do that much. She washes plates and generally helps me around but she is not engaged in the selling of charcoal unless I have to go somewhere. The school came to advise me that my daughter is growing and she needs to go to school. I told them that I didn’t have much because I needed to buy certain things like books and shoes.”
Teachers at a kindergarten run by Street Girls Aid urged Adjoa to send her daughter to regular lessons. The young girl was already behind in her education and they said if Adjoa did not have enough money to cover lunch fees, books or uniform, they would not turn her away. The project is the local partner of Chance for Childhood, which receives money raised through Red Nose Day to support parents and provide good quality early years teaching to children who would not otherwise be in school.
“I’m happy that my daughter goes to school now. I would prefer that my daughter grows up to become a nurse or doctor or goes into the police or military. I will be happy with that.”
Sharifa has been attending school regularly for several months now. She is still in a class with students younger than her but teachers hope she will be able to join her peers if she keeps up with her lessons.
Sharifa: “I wanted to learn so I was always wanting to go to school. I didn’t like selling charcoal. I used to sell the charcoal at the market for my mum. I stopped selling the charcoal and I am now in school learning. I feel happy that I am no longer selling charcoal, I feel happy that I’m in school.”
*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.