Cheerful Hearts Foundation

Vision: The Vision of Cheerful Hearts Foundation is to see healthy, educated and empowered rural communities of Ghana. We want to blend the demarcation line between the rural poor and urban rich. With education as our mandate, the vision is clear. Mission: To collaborate with the rural dwellers and stakeholders, to advance the educational standards for their children, and improve health services toward better living conditions for the children, men and women in the indigenous communities in Ghana. Our Objectives are: To empower children, youth, men, and women in rural communities through education, job training, and health awareness programs. To improve existing rural health faciliti...
Jun 3, 2013

March 2013 Project Update Nali School

Working with NGO Big Bang Ballers
Working with NGO Big Bang Ballers

It has been 3 months since the launch of the Nali School project, and what a wonderful and progressive 3 months it has been.

We at Cheerful Hearts Foundation want to provide ongoing updates to the project so that you know exactly where your money will go and how the project is advancing. This means everything to us for transparency and gratitude of everyone's efforts to change lives in Ghana.

After Lucian and Melissa's visit to Ghana in 2013, the Nali School project has gone strength to strength, with some incredible input from nearly 90 donors worldwide! Here's what's been happening since the inception this year:

- we are approaching $5000 and nearing 70% of the target for the project! Special thanks to the amazing person who individually donated $1000 to the project - wow our hearts were touched!

- we have teamed up with another NGO 'Big Bang Ballers' who provide opportunties to alleviate poverty through basketball. Successfully launched a fundraising campaign at John Paul College during vacation week, raising money and educating the Australian pupils about the differences between Ghana and Australia and the challenges that are faced. 3 large boxes of basketball supplies have been prepared to send to Ghana and construct a basketball court to give students at Nali an opportunity to have sports in their curriculum (currently there is none)

- we are working with Rotary Club Logan and Brisbane surrounds, after an invite to a Rotary meeting, we had a 15 minute audio-visual presentation to leading Rotary members. After an effective Q&A session, we have confidence that we will form a partnership with Rotary Australia and Rotary Ghana to raise necessary funds and have backing from businesses and individuals.

- Organisation and Project leader in Ghana, Eric Opoku Agyemang, has been invited to a conference in Denmark about empowering the youth in less developed countries. With this visit, he has learnt invaluable skills and advice to take back to Ghana and contribute significant policies to change the lives of impoverished families in the Kasoa region.

- A return trip by international volunteers is now scheduled for September-October 2013, where Lucian will adminster the first set of funds to ensure that clean water is available for students and the beginning of the reconstruction of toilet facilities. We have spoken with the Water Agency and local contractors to put the plans into place.

- an inventory is being set up for textbooks bought locally to sustain the local economy and provide adequate supplies to the school.

- another partnership is being formed through Queensland University of Technology, Australia, and Education and IT tutor, Vinesh Chandra, who is developing a literary resource of digital storybooks for children across the world, with university students and children both taking part in the storytelling process. We aim to provide an offline resource that will provide literary and IT education simultaneously and also reduce the financial burden of delivery books to Ghana and saving shipping costs. We also want to promote a socio-cultural exchange between schoolchildren around the world that will ease the barriers of understanding between children in developed and less developed nations and the poverty that exists.

- we have an order for 5 Macbooks to be delivered to Kasoa to provide a much needed IT program made available to the local community.

 

None of this would be made possible without your kind donations and your piece of heart that will make a difference.

There simply cannot be more passion that what we already have in making this project a reality and we are edging ever closer to our goal to complete it. Thank you so much for your efforts. Thank you for taking that moment to think about others. And thank you from Cheerful Hearts Foundation for being utterly selfless.

We need to build on this strong start. Please, spread the world - update your status to Facebook, tweet about it, talk about it with friends. If you want to be part of it and come to Ghana from September to personally take part, please don't hesitate to contact the project leader or Lucian Reed-Drake on info@cheerfulheartsfoundation.org . Let's keep going and ensure sustainability so that a pillar of change will stand firm for decades to come.

We are 200% committed to the cause and are gracious with appreciation for everyone involved in this life changing project.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you. Or as they say in Ghana, Medasi.

You are part of the road that is going to make a real difference.

Storybooks to be made digital
Storybooks to be made digital
Mar 13, 2013

March 2013 Child Labour Project Report

Stephen now happy in school at Fete
Stephen now happy in school at Fete

 

CHILD LABOUR & TRAFFICKING PROJECT

 

 A lot of things have been going on with the project since our last report.  Our Labour & Traffiking team has continued conducting interviews in Senya Beraku and the monitoring of students who we already sponsor.

 

Stephen*

Stephen is originally from Senya Beraku but is now living in Fetteh.  He’s not sure about his exact age or how long he had been working, but thinks he’s about 13, and had been working as long as he can remember.  When we met him, Stephen was fishing with his uncle on a boat in the open ocean seven days a week.  They would usually go out around 3pm, and wouldn’t return until 2am the next day. He spent his mornings on the shore fixing the nets instead of sleeping. Though he would earn 20 Ghana Cedis ($10 USD) on a good day, the money was paid directly to his mother who lived elsewhere. While he was working, Stephen lived with his boss, making it impossible for him to miss work. He has been bullied by the boss and severely injured performing the work. Stephen had previously attended school on and off until class three when he moved away with his mother. Constantly moving around made it extremely difficult to keep up with regular schooling and most of the time his mother was unable to afford his school fees.  Dissuaded by not having regular classes, Stephen found himself working more and more. When CHF interviewed him, most of Stephen’s friends had returned to school and he hoped he would be able to join them one day.

We selected Stephen for sponsorship and have closely monitored his progress in Class 2.  His instructor reports that he has almost perfect attendance, takes care of his textbooks and learning materials, and has done well academically.

 

Emmanuel*

 

Emmanuel is a 12 year old boy who used to attend school until class 5.  CHF interviewed him down at the shore in Fetteh where he revealed that he could no longer afford to pay the school fees which is why he was working.  Emmanuel was employed by the fisherman, mending the nets and pulling in the boats. He went to shore by himself but works for some of his dad’s friends and told us that he finds doing these tasks six days a week very tiresome although he does like the money aspect of it, or 1-2 Ghana Cedis per day ($0.50-$1.00 per day).  His father is a security man while his mother does not work. Both were educated to Junior High School level.  Emmanuel lives with his mother and father who provide his supper for him but he has to buy breakfast and lunch for himself with the money he makes from working.  If there is any money left over, he often has to contribute to his mother. He told us that his parents would prefer it if he returned to school and he would like to go back in order to have brighter future.

 

CHF selected Emmanuel for sponsorship based on his past education and his desire to return to school.  Since enrolling back in class 5, Emmanuel has been doing well on his exams and his teacher reports that he is eager to participate in class.

* Names changed for privacy

 

At the beginning of 2013, CHF outlined a number of potential initiatives which would assist with income generation and skill building in the local fishing communities.  Here is a brief description of each proposal:

 

  1. Agriculture Project – In January, CHF was presented with the opportunity to acquire land in the Senya Beraku area.  Initially, we envisioned a farming cooperative for the parents of our sponsored children and other less fortunate individuals in the community.  After doing some research we decided that a demonstration farm would be a better idea to train people how to grow crops for themselves.  In the coming weeks we will be working on securing the land, raising funds to support this project and brainstorming ideas on how the training program will work.
  2. Apprenticeship Program – This program has been a little slow in getting off the ground because of how transient the older fishers are.  We have been trying to target people in their late teens to early twenties who are not interested in receiving a formal education and don’t see a way out of the fishing industry.  While we have interviewed two possible candidates, they have since been in the Ivory Coast following the fish.  In the meantime, CHF is creating a database of skilled workers who can be used in the future as we locate more individuals interested in learning a trade.
  3. Adult Education – After conducting a trafficking interview a few weeks ago, our team encountered a woman who asked if we could teach her how to read and write in English.  This is an area we have been exploring because of CHF’s passion for education.  We have recently spoken with the local Non-Formal Education Division of the Ghana Education Service and discovered that there are literacy classes being held in Senya Beraku.  CHF will observe and evaluate these classes and determine if it is worth partnering with the Ghana Education Service or to set up our own training classes.
  4. Sensitization and Dialogue with Parents – CHF constantly monitors the academic progress of our 51 sponsored students through monthly progress reports.  These reports keep track of attendance and overall performance and attitude in school.  While these progress reports keep CHF up-to-date with our students, there has never been a formal way to relay the information back to the parents or guardians of the students.  One of the missions of the Stop Child Labour & Trafficking project is to refocus the parents/guardians priorities so that education comes first.  In the coming months CHF will work on a system to extend these reports back to the parent/guardians in our effort to sensitize them to the importance of an education and to restore some pride in the achievements of their children.

 

Despite our current lack of funds, CHF is highly confident that all of these programs will be feasible in 2013.  The agriculture project has taken priority because of the scale of the proposal and its potential to alleviate the economic hardships in some of the most impoverished families.  In the next month we aim to have a more concrete view of all of these initiatives and be able to outline a timeframe for everything.  Hopefully within that time, we can raise funds through Global Giving to help finance these long-term projects.

 

We humbly appeal you to share this report and the project page to all friends and families who would be interested in supporting to sustain this project.

Blessings!

Cheerful Hearts Founation Team

Emmanuel before his rescue at Fete fishing shore
Emmanuel before his rescue at Fete fishing shore
Emmanuel now happy in school at Fete
Emmanuel now happy in school at Fete
Rescued kids being taught to improve their Grammar
Rescued kids being taught to improve their Grammar
Some of the rescued kids with community volunteer
Some of the rescued kids with community volunteer
stop child Labour educational Campaign in schools
stop child Labour educational Campaign in schools

Links:

Dec 5, 2012

September to November 2012 Child Labour Update

Daniel Otoo now happy in school
Daniel Otoo now happy in school

Child Labour Update

 

The past few months have been extremely busy for the Child Labour Project at Cheerful Hearts Foundation (CHF).  During some of our child labour interviews, we began to encounter children who were not only working in dangerous situations, but have been trafficked to other communities with fishermen.  Many of them had been away from their families for a number of years and were typically working to pay off family debt or small loans which the family received from the fishermen. The amount of children who were familiar with this situation or had experienced it themselves was alarming. After much discussion, we decided to expand the scope of the Child Labour Project to include trafficking as well. The updated project name is the CHF Child Labour & Trafficking Project.

 

We extended the labour project to include trafficking while conducting extensive research in Senya Bereku, a fishing community not far from Kasoa. This community has an especially bad reputation for child labour which has been disguising the high frequency of children trafficked to locations outside the community; predominantly to a village on Lake Volta called Yeji.  Children from Senya Bereku are recruited from homes with cash advancements anywhere from 50 - 400 Ghana Cedi's ($25 - $200 USD) given to the parents or other family members. Money is usually promised to the family on the child's return.  Sometimes there is a “contract” that arranges how long the child will be trafficked for and how they will be supported while working.  More frequently, the duration of the child's absence is undetermined, making it possible for them to be gone for sometimes up to ten years. There have been cases where the children are never seen nor heard from again. 

 

The new focus on trafficking within the Child Labour & Trafficking Project was inspired after an interview in Senya Bereku with a boy named Daniel Otoo.  When he was six years old his parents decided to ‘rent’ him into bonded labour for a small advance. Daniel was under the belief that he was just travelling with his uncle, not realising that for the next ten years he would be forced to work for him, hundreds of miles away from his family.  Upon arrival in Yeji, he had dangerous and heavy physical labour thrust upon him.  He would pull in the boats, untangle and mend the nets, go out onto the lake to fish, and was forced to dive deep underwater to untangle the nets as they were often caught on the numerous tree stumps that are scattered throughout Lake Volta. He recounted stories of the children he worked with who had drowned as they were forced to dive to untangle the nets.  Despite the challenging and tiresome work, he was only provided with two small meals a day. Now 16 and grown up, Daniel has recently returned to Senya Bereku with no formal education and a bleak outlook for the future.  His family only received 500 Ghana Cedis for his countless hours of manual labour in the past ten years.  We began talking with him about his experience there, only to realize the problem was much bigger than we could have ever anticipated. Not only was Daniel illiterate, but he has severe psychological and emotional problems stemming from his time in bonded labour.  It was apparent that Daniel was suffering from the trauma of his experiences in life.  Worst of all, Daniel never smiled.  CHF immediately chose to sponsor Daniel and get him in to school.  Today, Daniel is progressing well and his teacher says that he is very motivated to improve his English skills so he can learn other subjects.  

 

Our research on the trafficking issue in Senya Bereku has continued and we are identifying a growing number of children who have faced a situation similar to Daniels.  We hope to sponsor as many children as we can and eventually start rescuing children from Yeji before it’s too late.  Unfortunately, we are unable to currently sponsor any more children because of CHF’s limited resources.  We hope to locate additional funding to sponsor many more trafficked children with these heart wrenching stories in Senya Bereku, Fetteh, and Nyanyano. 

 

Where is the Child Labour & Trafficking Project heading?

 

Microfinance:  The Cheerful Hearts Foundation (CHF) Child Labour & Trafficking team has been conducting extensive research in the fishing community of Senya Beraku.  We have identified many trafficked children who are candidates for sponsorship and are currently fundraising to get these kids in school.  During our research we have realized that sponsoring a child year-after-year is not enough to lift them from poverty and is unsustainable for CHF.  That is why we are exploring how to properly set up a microfinance division of CHF to assist the needs of the parents of the trafficked children.  This will allow us to evaluate if the parents could benefit from a microloan and sponsor their child for one year while they generate enough income to continue their child’s education.  Right now we are in an exploratory phase and hope to use the expertise of our advisors and other organizations to assist us in implementing this vital piece in our organization.  

 

Rehabilitation:  Another missing piece of the Child Labour & Trafficking project is a child rehabilitation program and centre.  This will allow us to have a more comprehensive program for the children and permit us to actually rescue children from the hands of fishermen in Yeji.  We have spoken with the Chief Advisor of Senya Beraku about these desires and how big the problem is in his community.  He was very responsive during our conversation and even said he would like CHF to be a permanent fixture in Senya Beraku.  We do not have the resources to make this happen right now but are exploring fundraising options and partnerships with other organizations.  At the least, we would like to provide some sort of mental health service to trafficked children while we sponsor them in school.

 

Thank you very much for making time to read this update. We grately appreciate all your support towards this project.

 

Blessings!

Cheerful Hearts Foundation team

some other recently rescued kids happy in school
some other recently rescued kids happy in school
Child Right talks in schools against Child labour
Child Right talks in schools against Child labour
3 children saved from being trafficked at Senya
3 children saved from being trafficked at Senya
Child trafficking research interviews at Senya
Child trafficking research interviews at Senya
Regina rescued and sponsored
Regina rescued and sponsored

Links:

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