A Ban Against Neglect (ABAN)

To transform an environmental epidemic into hope by empowering young and impoverished women in Ghana, and providing them with the tools necessary to practice a trade, make a living, and become self-reliant leaders of their community.
Feb 18, 2015

Transforming Communities in Ghana

Doris, with Candy and Alice, two other ABAN staff
Doris, with Candy and Alice, two other ABAN staff

Dear Friends,

Recently, our Programs Manager, Doris, wrote an amazing blog post about the impact she wants to have on her community in Ghana through ABAN. We thought it encompassed our mission beautifully and wanted to share it with you. When donating to ABAN, you are helping to achieve this vision of an empowered Ghana!

"I grew up in a community that understood the quantity little: little houses, little education, little food, and little opportunities. I never travelled much; I didn’t understand how the world operated. It was a community of about a hundred people; we all shared a community TV, drunk water from the same borehole when the tap ceased to flow for months, and the only fun things we did were going to church or community gatherings, and being a part of a community of Christians or sports. For a long time, I didn’t think there was any place bigger than the community I came from. I thought Accra (the capital city of Ghana) was on a different continent. Girls as old as 18 were not allowed to have boyfriends, and getting pregnant before marriage was taboo because it would bring shame to the community and to the girl’s family.

Life was all about the community and families and never about individual struggles. We could not talk to our parents about personal things because we viewed them as disciplinarians. Yet there were no others we could confide in, no counselors to help guide us. It was a scary time for every growing young person and more so every growing young woman. During this time, the life of girls was one that was governed by laws that made one more fearful than empowered. We were taught to respect men, to fear our parents, to be ‘nice’ to elderly men (unfortunately, this is where most girls tend to be abused), and to never talk back, to take it all in, to endure and be around when you are needed. There was no internet and telephones, only small TVs, so people did not know they had a choice to make life better for themselves and that decision was theirs to make. This was life 28 years ago.

Since that time, the change that has come to us is plenty and almost unreal: the kind of change that serves humanity and brings order into the world. Laws on human rights have been improved, educational and other life changing opportunities are all around us, there is access to quality services, and help can be sought from a lot of places.

Yet this change has not affected all parts of Ghana. The kind of life I dreaded living 28 years ago is being lived today in many of the communities around me. The generation that believed in ostracizing girls who got pregnant, giving girls out in early marriages, and forcing girls into abusive relationships are still with us today. They call it ‘culture.’ There are communities that still believe girls are only good when they have men by their sides and will never shine by themselves. As such, there are a lot of girls and women who are wasting away untapped potential in themselves that they may never know they have.

The state of mind of the people in these communities and the lack of skilled persons and resources to support them has made it difficult for such communities to develop. What you will usually find is a city blossoming and the villages around them diminishing because when these resources and help are finally here, it’s just the city folks that benefit. Many of the people in the villages that would want to access this help are unable because of financial constraints. Even if some are able to break through and make it, there is little incentive to go back into their communities and help it develop. This means the community remains underdeveloped, the mindsets of the local people never change, and the abuse of girls continues.

So what if help could be sent to the young women in these villages, to be empowered and trained to lead the next generation of children to sustainable community building?

If women were empowered, as an adage goes in Ghana, the whole nation will develop. We as a nation understand the role women play in national growth but do not have the knowledge to make women the tool for our nation’s development. A culture that places much importance on men as the head and final authority in every aspect of a woman’s life is only doomed to fail. If women remain marginalized, as has been for a very long time in Ghana, and if they are not encouraged and support to use their God given talents and skills, we as a nation will remain developing and never become a developed nation. And so as it is now, the nation is struggling and I believe that is in large part to women not being recognized.

Appropriately resourced, I want to lead these poor and underprivileged women and girls in these communities to find within themselves potentials that could help them become the change their communities need. I want to provide opportunity in the midst of poverty. This means linking women to matched resources that are easily accessible to them and which can help them develop their skills and encourage their growth. For most of these women, all they need is someone to be there and be available, to listen and to lead them through the process. Someone to encourage and applaud their little efforts that when seen together, could transform their community.

With my background growing from a rural setting, I believe I have a better understanding of what opportunity means and I have been through the poverty cycle to have a fair idea of what needs to be done to get women to be the change and force we know them to be."

Thank you so much for your continued support! As you can see, our vision for Ghana is great and our mission is strong! It's thanks to you we're able to achieve this dream. 

Dec 2, 2014

How Do We Recruit the Women In Our Program?

Doris speaking to a group of young women
Doris speaking to a group of young women

This October, 22 women entered our campus gates for the first time.

They come from small communities with little opportunity. They bring babies with them, looking for provision where there is little to be had. They come with few dreams, but determination to transform their circumstances.

One of the questions we get asked most often is how we find the women for our programs! There are a couple steps to our recruitment process that the women go through when applying to be part of ABAN’s programs.

The first step is approaching the community as a whole. Our programs coordinator meets with community leaders first to get a sense of the people living in each town. She asks about their population, main occupations, school system, opportunities for women, and challenges they face as a whole. Next she introduces ABAN to the leaders and describes the programs we offer. She asks if the leaders know any women in the town that would be good candidates for our programs and asks to hold an information session.

The next step in our recruitment is the information session. This session is held at a communal place in town and welcome for anyone to attend. Our programs coordinator does a presentation on ABAN’s programs, then opens it up for a question and answer session. At the end of this session, women who meet our primary criteria (single mothers, aged 18-24) can sign up with their name and phone number to receive our application. Women who do not meet the criteria can still give us a phone number to reach them at in case we have other opportunities for them.

We have an open application process for a few weeks. All the women who signed up receive a phone call that applications are ready to be picked up. The woman must go to the ABAN campus and pick up the form herself, or arrange for it to be picked up. This along with the 10 GHC fee shows the woman’s dedication to being part of the program. (Of course there are always exceptions, but we really look to this as being an indicator of commitment from the start.)

There are three parts to the application: the paper forms, an individual interview, and a group interview. The paper forms ask basic questions about the woman, her age, her children, and her past education. Thirty women who meet our criteria at this stage are invited for individual interviews. During individual interviews, the women meet with our programs coordinator and training manager and are asked questions about their personality and work ethic. This is to get a sense of who each woman is as a person and what she wants out of life. Twenty-five women from this group are invited to a group interview. This interview demonstrates how she acts in a group setting and how she works with a team.

Twenty to twenty-five women are then invited to be part of our six-month program. However, no woman is turned away with no other resources. If she is a strong candidate, she will be put on the waiting list for the next six-month cycle. If she is outside of the age range, she is referred to other programs or invited to training sessions. We keep records of all women we interact with so that we can contact them if we hear of any resources that would match their ambitions!

This first six-month class is comprised of 22 wonderful women and their children. Stay connected to grow with the women and support them along their journey to empowerment through ABAN.

Aug 29, 2014

ABAN's Third Graduation

Anita, 2014 graduate
Anita, 2014 graduate

Dear Friends,

We are so pleased to announce that on August 2nd, 2014, eleven young women received certificates stating they had successfully completed A Ban Against Neglect’s Women’s Empowerment Program. This is our THIRD graduating class! The certificate proved that the women received training in a vocational skill and basic business practices. But the certificate means much more than just this. This certificate shows the young woman is transforming her life. It shows she is providing for herself and her child. It shows she is part of a growing community of young women in Ghana that are unleashing their potential through ABAN’s programs!

The following is a speech read by two of our graduates at the ceremony. We think it sums up their journey through our programs well!


QUEEN MOTHERS, FAMILY, INVITED GUESTS, FRIENDS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,

God has been good to us in so many ways and today, in the presence of everyone, we want to thank Him. We thank God for the blessings of life he has given us, for the gift of our children He has blessed us with and for the opportunity to have gone through two-year training with ABAN. Today, eleven of us like many before us, graduate from this program. Most of us came here alone without any company. We walked in by ourselves. We came with few dreams and little hope, and yet today, we leave with plenty.

We look around us and see a totally different picture of ourselves today. Our little babies then crawling are now walking and talking. Our knowledge and skills have been developed. Our lives have been transformed and our future is looking bright.

For two years, we brought ourselves to a kind of discipline we thought we could not come under. We accepted the changes that came into our lives because we knew they were for our own good. We welcomed a tradition that was foreign to us but has eventually become a part of our everyday life; a tradition of hope, faith and trust, of hard work and of change. We would like to sum this change up by using our director’s favorite proverb: “Break the rules.’’ We broke the rule that said we were marginalized and so had to be poor. We broke the rule that said our children have to suffer for our mistakes. The rule that said we will not be here today in this celebration of success, like you all can see, is being broken as we speak.

We as a team have shared so many things together. We have lived together while being happy and sad, doubtful and optimistic, fearful and yet very hopeful. We know that this is going to be the beginning of a new life for us. We are going to put into practice all that we have learned over the years. But we know it’s not going to be easy. We are hopeful that we will succeed in life and we ask that you pray for us.

Whilst in ABAN, we were like children. As children, we talked like children, thought like children, dreamt like children, behaved like children. We know we have made mistakes, but we have also grown. Now is the time to make the best of our life and create a legacy that our children will be proud of someday. We will continue to learn until we can also teach and be a blessing to others.

Long live ABAN. God bless you all!

Thank you.

We are so proud of all of our graduates and cannot wait to see them continue to transform their future!

Esther, 2014 graduate
Esther, 2014 graduate
Class of 2014!
Class of 2014!