Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana

by Action against Child Exploitation (ACE)
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Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Providing School Supplies to 100 Children in Ghana
Arya (left), a member of her school's representati
Arya (left), a member of her school's representati

Hello everyone! Thank you very much for your warm support for ACE's activities. My name is Yuki Akabori, a staff member in charge of Ghana.
The Smile Ghana Project provides free school supplies and uniforms to children from economically disadvantaged families who are at high risk of engaging in child labor. In this report, we report on the children and their families who received the school supplies last June (2021) and what has happened since then.

The conditions of the families and the children living in those families vary, but we have seen families prioritize their children's education even in the midst of difficult circumstances. Please take a look at the stories of these three children and their families.

Recent update from Ghana: Start of the rainy season and rising prices

Japan is in the midst of seasonal changes, with chilly and warm temperatures. Whereas in Ghana, it is a season of blessings and joy, but the worrisome news is that the high cost of living in Ghana continues to rise. According to news reports, this is the highest rate of increase since the founding of Ghana. Prices rose 23.6% in April, and transportation fees, food prices, and utility bills have risen sharply, making life difficult for cacao farmers and other ordinary citizens. The cost of gasoline for vehicles used to travel to aid areas is also rising, and the cost of project activities is also being constricted. The exchange rate has also worsened, and Ghana's currency (the Ghanaian cedi) is now the most depreciated currency among African countries.

Arya and her family

Arya (pseudonym) is in the fourth grade of elementary school and lives with her mother who is in her late 60s. Her school teacher compliments Arya on her punctuality and regular attendance at school, even though her home is far from the elementary school in her village. Arya excelled in her class and was selected to participate in a school quiz competition (in which two elementary schools in the project's support area compete against each other) at an event held in June 2021 to eliminate child labor.

Arya dreams of becoming a school teacher in the future. Her mother is grateful for Arya's support for a set of school supplies and said, "I am interested in my daughter's education and regularly attend PTA meetings.

Rex and his family

Rex's (pseudonym) father was in an automobile accident several years ago and broke his right leg. Before the accident, he was a mason and owned a cacao farm. After the accident, his father underwent two surgeries at a local hospital and was then referred to a further hospital that specializes in bone repair. In order to pay for the hospital and surgery costs of 18,000 Ghana cedis (about 2,300 US dollars), the cacao farm had to be rented out for about 15 years.

During father's hospitalization and treatment, Rex's mother had to go with him to the hospital to support him. Therefore, grandmother took care of Rex while his parents were away from home. Today, Rex's father is able to walk with crutches, but the family is economically vulnerable. Father is unable to farm, mother stays home to take care of his dad, and grandma is in her 80s and elderly.

Despite these circumstances, Rex goes to school every day in good spirits. He says shyly, "Going to school is fun! she replied shyly. Rex's parents are very grateful for the support of the school supplies and promise to do their best for their children. The father hopes for a quick recovery to improve the family's financial situation.

Randy and his family

Randy (pseudonym) lives with his father, who has been suffering from Buruli ulcer* for the past 8 years. His father has spent more than 5,000 Ghana cedis (about 650 US dollars) for treatment at various hospitals. Eventually, the medical expenses became so high that he could no longer afford the medicines needed for treatment. Because of this, Randy's mother and three siblings left home and moved to another area in search of a better environment.
According to his father, his mother supports her three children by peddling kenke, one of Ghana's staple foods, in the area where they have relocated, and she also sends money home to Randy and his father from time to time. The father had hoped to be eligible for a Ghanaian government project to support vulnerable groups (called LEAP, implemented by the World Bank and the Ministry of Gender), but he did not get the chance and was not eligible.
Randy attends school every day and "loves school!" He says. His father said, "I am grateful that my son received assistance with school supplies. I would like to continue to support my son's education in any way I can.

*A disease classified in the genus of bacteria that causes tuberculosis and leprosy.

The Smile Ghana Project provides school supplies and other financial support for children's education and families! Thank you for your continued support!

Arya (right) taking a class at the school
Arya (right) taking a class at the school
Interview with Mr. Rex (left) and his family
Interview with Mr. Rex (left) and his family
Rex (center) with his mother and brother
Rex (center) with his mother and brother
Randy and his father showing uniform and bag
Randy and his father showing uniform and bag
A girl speaks out at an event against Child Labor
A girl speaks out at an event against Child Labor
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Pupils enjoy school lunch
Pupils enjoy school lunch

Hello everyone. I'm Akira Kondo, the project manager of the Smile Ghana Project.

Our project was scheduled from February 2018 to August 2020. However, from March 2020, the school was closed due to the influence of Covid-19, and children could not learn. In addition, the temporary closure of the local market reduced the cash income of farmers. As a result, cocoa farmers were in distress and more than 60 children returned to child labor.

Currently, primary schools have been reopened, and all children who were child labor during the school holidays have returned to school, but there is a regulation that limits the length of stay at school to four hours to prevent the spread of infection increase. In addition, although the local market has been reopened, the cash income of farmers who are parents of children remains lower than before.

Therefore, after discussions with our partner NGO CRADA, the project has decided to set up a one-year follow-up period from September 2021 to August 2022. During the follow-up period, we carry out the follow-up of the activities of the Community Child Protection Committee (CCPC) which is a community volunteer organization for conducting community patrol activities, continuous support for improving the learning environment (supporting school feeding and extra class), continuous support for raising the additional income of cocoa farmers (including rice production), and promotion activities of community regulations on child protection at targeted communities.

By setting a follow-up period, the damage caused by the Covid-19 to children and communities’ residents can be reduced as much as possible, and the elimination of child labor by community people centered on residents' organizations such as CCPC. We would like to make sure that the mechanisms for protecting children's rights are sustainedin targeted communities.

Covid 19 caused heavy damage to people and children in cocoa-producing areas. We will continue to support them so that as many children as possible can live with peace of mind.

One of cocoa farmers in her rice farm
One of cocoa farmers in her rice farm
Interview with a cocoa farmer
Interview with a cocoa farmer
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Rice farming training participants
Rice farming training participants

Hello, everyone! This is Kondo, the Ghana Project managerA state of emergency has been declared and inconveniences continue, but I'm waiting for the return of our freedom! 

In Ghana, people are struggling to protect their livelihoods under the difficult circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic. Even after the lockdown was put in place across Ghana in March last year and later lifted in April, activities such as open-air markets where large numbers of people gather were restricted, affecting many cocoa farmers. In addition, schools were closed for a total of 9 months, which resulted in 62 children returning to child labor in the project area. As soon as the schools reopened in January 2021, they stopped child labor and went back to school again, but many cocoa farmers are still struggling to make ends meet. 

Particularly serious is the lack of a stable source of income for cocoa farmers, which makes it difficult for them to support the education of their children on a stable basis. Originally, many cacao farmers did not have any other means of income. As a result, fluctuations in cacao yields and prices often led to a drastic decrease in income and instability in their lives. Diversifying cultivars to solve this problem will reduce that risk and make farmers' livelihoods more resilient. 

The project began farming edible snails in 2019. And from 2020, people in the project are starting to grow new rice crops in order to diversify their income sources. In fact, rice is considered to be a very good crop in Ghana, as it is highly profitable and consumed by the people themselves. It is heard that some cocoa farmers are quitting cocoa cultivation and shifting to rice production. 

Using Ghana's rural development scheme called Women in Additional Income Generating Activities (WAIGA), they started growing rice under the guidance of engineers from Ghana's Ministry of Agriculture. Twenty-five farmers will participate in the training and will be provided with seeds, fertilizers, etc. The cost of the training will be offset by the payment of a bag of rice after the harvest. This year, 25 farmers harvested a total of 184 bags, or 7.5 bags per acre, and the rice was sold out at the market. 

Poverty is not the only reason why child labor occurs, but it is still important to get out of poverty, improve income and stability in order to protect children's rights and educational environment. Especially in this Covid-19 pandemic, how families can ensure that their children are educated is an important issue. The project is now conducting monitoring and awareness-raising activities to eliminate child labor by themselves, including child protection committees and school management committees. If we can provide the infrastructure for children to learn and play in a safe environment, the project area can move closer to becoming a Child Labour Free Zone, which the Ghanaian government is promoting.  

Even in the difficult circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic, the people in the project communities continue to work to eliminate child labor, and in doing so, they also continue to make efforts to improve their own lives. We, ACE, will support and encourage such local people! 

Training session
Training session
Cultivated rice
Cultivated rice
Harvested rice
Harvested rice
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Charles and his mum
Charles and his mum

Hello,

This is Yuki Akahori, Project Manager for our SMILE community projects in Ghana. For this quarterly update, I wanted to share the stories of two children and their families, who we interviewed remotely a few weeks ago as part of our ongoing check-ins with SMILE community members. Here is what they had to say about their current situation, the SMILE-Ghana project and how it has impacted their lives.

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Alice* and her family

Alice is part of a family of 8 who had migrated from the north-east of Ghana where they previously worked in rice farming. Their friends had told them that cacao-farming was more profitable, and so they decided to move down to the south west cacao-growing regions of Ghana. All of Alice's sisters and brothers are primary school-aged. 

The hardest aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic for her parents was their business collapsing. They used to sell goods in the local market - which was shut down due COVID restrictions. They had already invested all their capital into building that business so they no longer have the resources to start up all over again.

Alice is 13 and likes going to school because she has good teachers and she likes learning. Her favourite subject is maths. During the school closures, she spent her days helping with household chores. She couldn't study because no one at home was able to teach her. That was the hardest part of the COVID-19 pandemic for her. She was so happy when schools re-opened.

Alice and all her brothers and sisters were already attending school before SMILE began in their community. The project reinforced their belief in the importance of education, which is their third biggest living expense after food and medical expenses.

 SMILE-Ghana’s Impact

 For the parents

Alice's parents didn't really understand what child labour signified until the project started in their communities. That is not to say that they didn't send their children to school, however, the project raised their awareness of the different types of harmful labour for different age groups and ensured their children were not engaged in anything they shouldn't be. The CCPC monitors their village now too.

What do you expect from the children's education?

For them to be empowered and supported and secure a better job in their future (better than the labour intensive work of cacao-farming).

What was the most significant change in your life which has resulted from SMILE Ghana Project and why?

One of the children was provided SMILE school supplies and it motivated me to try and make sure the other children all had supplies too. We saw how happy the children were to have supplies - this was our main motivating factor. Other changes we saw in the community were teachers being more punctual, academic performance increased as attendance increased and learning was being taken more seriously (teachers were punctual for example).

These were key changes for us because we want our children to have bright futures, and we believe these changes contribute to that.

For the children

What is the most significant change in your life that has resulted from SMILE Ghana Project? Why is this significant to you?

The school feeding program. Before that there was no food in school. We enjoy the meals.

What is your dream for the future? Why?

I want to be a nurse when I am old. I remember when I had gone to hospital for a stomach ache and a nurse treated me so well.

Charles and his family

Charles is one of a family of nine - he has 6 brothers and sisters. His parents have no other income source other than from cacao farming since they could no longer sell cassava and coco yam at the market since the pandemic hit. Their children’s education accounts for 40% of their living expenses. They want their children to be able to learn in a safe learning environment at school and secure opportunities for a better future.

SMILE-Ghana’s Impact

 For the parents

Do you see any changes in your child’s behaviour or attitude in daily life (now & before the project)?

The children go to school much more and their academic performance has improved. Both us and the children have got better at making sure that we have everything ready for school.

From your point of view, what is the most significant change in your life that has resulted from the SMILE Ghana Project? Why is this significant to you?

We better understand the importance of children going to school and what children should and shouldn't be allowed to do. We have also come to feel that we have the ability to improve our children's opportunities.

From your point of view, what is the most significant change in the community that has resulted from the SMILE Ghana Project? Why is this significant to you?

We work better together as a team and the community is much more aware of the fact that children should be going to school not to work.

For the children

Do you like going to school? Why? What do you like the most in school?

Yes, I like learning, especially maths.

 What is the hardest thing you experienced during COVID-19 pandemic?

We didn't have electricity so I couldn't study at home.

How did you feel when the school resumed?

Very happy because I can study and eat lunch! 

What is the most significant change in your life that has resulted from SMILE Ghana Project? Why is this significant to you?

Learning about the basic rights of the child and going to the Child Dignity Club. Also, being provided the school supplies. 

What is your dream for the future? Why?

I want to be a teacher. I think it is so good when a teacher explains something and it is so easy to understand.

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 We hope these short excerpts give you some insight into the ways in which the SMILE project is impacting not only children's lives but their families, supporting their education as well as their all-round well-being and sense of empowerment to secure a better future for themselves. 

Your donations make these projects possible. Thank you again for all your support. 

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Adapting to the New Normal

COVID-19 Situation update

(COVID information is based on reports from our local Ghanaian partner organisation, CRADA, as of the end of October 2020)

Infection peaks but not much can change

For the last few months, infection rates have calmed in Ghana. As of October, the number of infections reached 4,700 and recorded deaths 310, representing some of the lowest figures in Africa, and in the world. However, the lives of the local people have been significantly negatively impacted and cases of child labour have been increasing.

Lockdowns were not implemented in our SMILE-Ghana project villages but the Blue Sky Market, where residents sell cacao and agricultural products to earn cash income, was closed for a long time. As a result, many local communities have not been able to bring in an income. The market has started to gradually re-open, however, most farmers travel there by public forms of transport such as buses, shared taxis and trucks, which have yet to return to the area. This means that many residents also cannot get to the market. In other words, even now, it is almost impossible for people to make an income.

In addition, schools remain closed. Although the final grades of elementary school, junior high school, and high school were allowed to resume, the teachers of the school who had left the village to return to their parents' homes when schools closed have not returned. 

The number of migrants arriving in the villages, especially from the north of Ghana, is on the rise. Since cocoa production is flourishing in the southern part of Ghana, migrants have been travelling from the north, where industry is scare, to the south in search of jobs. While this is definitely not a new phenomena, it seems that the number of migrants is increasing due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In some cases, families who were making their children work may move to the villages, so we have to monitor movement and ensure that the families do not engage their children in hazardous work and support them to ensure that they send their children to school when schools resume.

Two Community Projects Extended 

Two SMILE- Ghana projects were originally scheduled to be completed in August 2020 but we have extended them by one year to ensure that they are provided additional support during these precarious times.

Implementation of make-up classes 

As mentioned above, school classes have not been held since April 2020, and there is no prospect that they will resume any time soon. For this reason, we have temporarily hired adults in the local area to train as supplementary teachers, and gather children at the school to conduct lessons. Since they are not trained teachers, teaching will be limited but this will act as a temporary measure to prepare children for their return to education.

Provision of school lunches

Until now, the project did not provide school lunches, and children either brought lunch from home or returned home after class at noon to eat. However, there are concerns that some children are not eating enough due to the current economic situation. There is also concern that when schools do re-open, parents might be reluctant to send children back to school. As such, we have been providing school meals to promote school attendance. Due to our limited budget, meals can only be provided twice a week.

Additional school supplies

In Ghana, compulsory education is free, however, you must purchase school supplies yourself. The projects have increased provisions of school supplies to account for the increased number of households in the community with strained incomes, as well as the increased number of families that have moved to the area to find jobs. Supply sets are used for supplementary classes as well as for when the children return to school. 

Income improvement support for residents

Our normal farmer training program is not useful right now in light of the limited accessibility of the Blue Sky Market where the farmers would go to sell their goods. As many farmer’s have seen their incomes fall sharply, we are providing additional and fairly large-scale income support. We will continue to update our support for farmers when the market returns to its normal state.

What else are we doing? Launched JICA project implementing the Child Labour Free Zone System  

In our last GlobalGiving report, we introduced our work to establish the Protocols and Guidelines for the Child Labour Report (Read the report here in case you missed it: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/ace-ghana/reports/?subid=157392). The protocols came into effect in March 2020: since then, ACE has been commissioned by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to pilot the implementation of the protocols and certification assessment in two cacao-production districts in Ghana. The district includes the eight communities where we have previously completed the SMILE-Ghana project. We will provide an update in our next GlobalGiving report.

To all of you who support us to operate these community projects and provide the extra support necessary during these exasperating times, thank you. We appreciate your support and hope to continue working together with you.

Home visits to children
Home visits to children
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Organization Information

Action against Child Exploitation (ACE)

Location: Taitoku, Tokyo - Japan
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @ace_japan
Project Leader:
Masami Narizuka
Taitoku, Tokyo Japan
$11,503 raised of $15,000 goal
 
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