My name is Akira Kondo, and I am the Ghana Project Manager for ACE. Thank you so very much for supporting our efforts to end child exploitation in the world.
The Smile Ghana Project has been active in two villages in the Asunafo South District of Ahafo Region since February 2018. Since then, village tours have been conducted by the “Community Child Protection Committee (CCPC),” a group of trained volunteers, to look for cases of child labour. When they do come across a child working, the child and their family are gathered together to discuss what needs to be done to enable the children to go to school, taking into consideration the parents' voices and concerns. While these tours may seem like a very simple activity, it has uncovered the case of many child labourers and resulted in their withdrawal from labour and re-entrance into education. Let me tell you about just one case, her name is Mary.
Mary* (a pseudonym) is 15 years old and is the fourth sibling of five brothers. She moved to this village with her family three years ago. When ACE started the SMILE Ghana project, Mary and her 9-year-old brother Michael* (a pseudonym) were not in school, they had left school to work before moving. Mary’s family are peasant farmers who work in the cacao fields. The family felt that they could not afford to send all five children to school because of their income.
However, having been able to talk with the CCPC volunteers, the family was able to think about how they could find a way to afford it. In Ghana, school tuition is free but families must provide school supplies such as stationery and textbooks. As such ACE provided these to the family so that Mary and Michael could go to school. Again, for many this may seem so simple and yet for cocoa-farming families like Mary's buying school supplies is simply not possible.
Now all five children are attending school but surviving on the family’s income is still tough. In order to increase their income, their father is attending voluntary agricultural training to further fund his children’s education.
Currently, Mary’s favourite subject is Mathematics and she has realized that her dream is to become a nurse in the future. We will continue to support Mary so that she continues to make her dreams become a reality.