Street children in Accra: Giving voice to the voiceless
Felix Nyamedor, Accra City Community Manager
Many of Accra's street children are migrants from other parts of Ghana who followed others in the name of greener pastures. Other street children were trafficked to the city centre by older people and were left to fend for themselves. These children find ways to survive by engaging in activities ranging from being porters to selling goods on the street. The boys often earn money by shining shoes, pushing trucks, gathering refuse and carrying it to the dump site. Many also trade sex for money. In reaction to these alarming hardships, a number of important organizations are working to give these street children a voice, using a number of different approaches.
The core mandate of the government-owned Osu Children's Home is to take children from the street and provide them with appropriate care. The goal is to afford them hope for a better future and to fully reintegrate all children admitted into the home into mainstream society. After working with the children, they are reintegrated into their families. Unfortunately, this is the home's only option, because of lack of funding and challenges in maintaining the home.
The Hope for the Nations organization, which runs the Agape Children's Home, represents another model. The program rescues children from street life and provides foster parents to care for them. Each child lives in a separate family unit with foster parents and up to six other children. The children interact with the rest of the home's community on a daily basis, and communication with relatives is encouraged to give support to the children.
Plan Ghana and the Street Children Empowerment Foundation work together to organize events for street children to discuss "streetism," its causes, effects, and solutions. Child ambassadors meet with street children to discuss these issues and how to partner to end "streetism." Many street children in Accra have been reintegrated to their families through this process.
A final, education-based model is put into action with The Universal Wonderful Street Academy, which takes children from the streets into classrooms, where they are educated, clothed, and fed with one meal a day at no cost.
These organizations are using a variety of complementary approaches to provide a deserved future for Accra's street children.
Photo credit: Ojewsika