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