Community-led change prioritizes the voices, resources, and needs of a community. But what if the community in question relies on child labor?
Jemimah F. Eminsang
Head of Programmes, Child Research for Action and Development Agency (CRADA)
Who She Is:
Jemimah F. Eminsang is the Head of Programmes for Child Research for Action and Development Agency (CRADA). She joined the organization as the assistant project officer for two years before assuming her current position. She holds a master’s degree in Development Studies from the Institute of Social, Statistical and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana.
GlobalGiving defines community leadership as being accountable to the vision and priorities set by a community. Community-led approaches put the people most affected by the work in the lead, ensure diverse representation in decision-making, mobilize the community’s own resources, and use feedback to improve. However, what if your organization’s mission centers around changing the attitudes of the community? Jemimah, a nonprofit leader from Ghana, explains her organization, CRADA’s approach. CRADA is the implementing partner of GlobalGiving’s nonprofit partner ACE.
Q. How does your work influence community attitudes toward child labor and school attendance?
A: CRADA’s intervention leverages all components of the social structure to create change. Through our work, the norm that children must work—and may only go to school as an option—is replaced with the norm that school is the best place for every child.
Through our SMILE Ghana Project in Wurubegu, cocoa farmer Mr. Nyame agreed to send his child laborer to school, while he continued to pay the remittance to the family of the child. He was also able to increase his cocoa production after joining the farmer’s business school. Mary, a 9-year-old girl who had dropped out of school in class two to work on Mr. Nyame’s cocoa farm, is now happily enjoying her studies as a pupil in the Wurubegu primary school. She has good academic performance and dreams of becoming a policewoman in the future.
Q. What is your approach to influencing community attitudes?
A: We involve all development agencies, beginning with the local government, then the chiefs, other leaders, parents, school authorities, child employers, and children themselves in consultative meetings to help them understand, accept, and own the change that needs to happen. As part of our exit strategy, we brought the community together to facilitate the formulation of community bylaws in a participatory approach. Community members write laws together that ensure the end of child labor. [How community-led is your nonprofit? Find out by downloading GlobalGiving’s free checklist.]
Q. How do you manage resistance from the community?
A: Because the approach is integrated and holistic, we don’t have to manage resistance. The project and impacts gained become owned and sustained by the communities through inbuilt community mechanisms such as the bylaws and the committees at the different levels of the social structure.
Featured Photo: Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana by ACE