Field Stories 8 March 2018

Three Ghanaian women pressing for progress in their communities

Felicia Asamoah drying cocoa beans in the sun.

In carrying out our activities over the years, we have come across women whose efforts have been key to the elimination of child labour in their communities. Some of these women such as Felicia, have started schools so their children would not have to walk long distances to access education, others like Amina took it upon themselves to ensure that the community service group in her community stands to ensure that children can stay in school. Others like Mary have stood as leaders in their communities, heading child protection efforts. As we pledge to press for progress by celebrating the achievements of women in the communities we work with, we take delight and pride in sharing the stories of these women – representing thousands of others who are actively trying to improve the living conditions for their families and environments.

Felicia, a champion for school education

“I live in the Dossi Community in the Assin North Municipality. I am the person who set up a school in my community in 1986. And I started a kindergarten in my house with 20 children with the support of my husband. I was encouraged to set up the school because the children had to walk 2 miles to the next community to attend school. I handed over this school to the Ghana Education Service (GES) after three years with five teachers and 31 pupils. Now, we have a full-fledged school from kindergarten to Junior High School. I am currently part of both the School Management Committee (SMC) and Parents Teachers Association (PTA) of the school.

As members of the SMC, we work to ensure that all children in the community are in school. Our children have better classrooms, school materials and are also benefiting from the school feeding programme. We work with the Community Child Protection Committee (CCPC) to ensure child protection is promoted. With the awareness created by the CCPC and a strong emphasis on education, we are playing our role in eliminating child labour from our community. Our aim is to ensure that the children who have been detected as at risk by the community’s child labour monitoring system, will be brought back to school and are able to graduate.

My role doesn’t end in the committees I am a member of. I sometimes supply free medicine to sick children because I want them to stay healthy and able to attend school. There are times when I have to feed some children myself. But I would rather have that than let them drop out of school. Children’s education in this community is very important to me.”

Mary, leading child protection in her community

mary

Mary Adoku was trained by ICI in bead making to improve the livelihood of her family.

Mary Adoku is a petty trader and farmer in Mpeam. She has three children. She serves as the Community Child Protection Club (CCPC) President in her community. Mary is the only female CCPC chairperson in the ICI direct implementation programme. Her committee members selected her to lead them based on her commitment to the issue, her communication skills and her respected role in the community. Mary leads a team of five members with two females and three males. They organise community awareness raising sessions to educate the members and leadership on issues of child protection. They also carry out monitoring of households to ensure that no child is engaged in hazardous activities. Mary says,

“I have a strong interest in standing for development and child protection in my community. I was encouraged to become the CCPC president because I want to ascertain that the futures of our children are improved. When we were trained by ICI, we realized that if we take our duties as CCPC members seriously, we can eliminate child labour in Mpaem. Through our efforts, 20 women have been trained in bead making by ICI in October as a source of additional income. These women have been set up by the foundation to start their bead making businesses. This is a source of empowerment for us as women.”

Amina, organizing adult labour in her community

“My name is Amina Amidu and I am a farmer. I live with my husband and our four children at Bonkrom. ICI came to talk to us about how we can live our lives in a progressive way as women. The Community Service Group (CSG) was the first group to be set up by ICI in my community in 2016 with 15 members including my husband. But after some time most of the group members were not committed to the work and tried to play smart with the others who were ready to do it. The machines which had been given to the group by ICI were not well cared for leading to their breakdown. The funds which had been gathered by the group from previous work couldn’t be traced. Most farmers stopped hiring their services.

I decided that I will not let the group collapse. I took it upon myself to engage with the previous members of the group. I created awareness on how they can make the CSG a successful one that will be of benefit to everyone involved.  I also emphasized on the impact the collapse of the CSG will have on our community. I spoke with hardworking men in my community highlighting on the benefits they stand to gain from being part of the group. They understood me and decided to revive the group. I gave their names to the Community Development Associate (CDA) working with our community. The dedication of this new group paid off and they have really come to appreciate my contribution to the group’s revival. They are still working and are reaping the benefits. They have now been able to repair all the broken down machines.

I was motivated to push for the establishment of the CSG in Bonkrom because it held many benefits for the group members. I also realized that it will be of assistance to the farmers. Their charges were lower than the labourers around. This helped the farmers to spend less on labour. Previously, farmers in my community were spending an average of GHS15 a day per labourer. Hiring the Community Service Group costs GHS13 a day. The progress of the CSG has brought peace of mind to the farmers. Most of them bring their work to the group because the current members are hardworking and very productive. The team is made up of six people; one has been assigned to handle the mist blower (supervised by another member) and the other five handle the other tasks. Now the group works 2 days in a week; Wednesdays and Saturdays. The members are entitled to GHS2 for food for each day of work and the remaining GHS11 is deposited in a common fund.

When the group was initially set up in Bonkrom, it reduced child labour. Farmers were able to afford the lower charges. They were not using their children to work on the farm. The collapse of the group meant children were asked to leave school earlier by their parents so they could help with the farm work.

Since the group’s revival, farmers are more open to allowing their children to stay in school. They don’t see the point in burdening the children if the group is available to do the work at a lower cost. They also have the possibility of getting the work done on credit by the group if they meet the conditions.”

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