Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana

by Hats Community Empowerment Programme (HACEP-Ghana)
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Protect 50,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana
Vivian's Presentation
Vivian's Presentation
“Childhood should be carefree, playing in the sun; not living a NIGHTMARE in the darkness of the soul. – Dave Pelzer
 
My name is Vivian, am 16 years of age. This is my true life story. As someone who is going through childhood, I know it is the most beautiful phase of life; when you can truly be yourself in your infinite innocence. A time when you have absolutely no responsibilities, no decisions to make and the words tension and stress haven’t yet made it to your vocabulary. It is indeed a time we always cherish and would beg, any day, to have a chance to relive it. But even though memories of our childhood are worth reminiscing, sadly, millions of girls at my age (age-mates) around the world do not enjoy the kind of childhood they deserve. They are thrown into a pit full of never ending misery; our childhood is forcefully buried deep down into the darkness of a life that we do not deserve. This is the terrifying pit of Child Marriage.
 
One afternoon, I returned home from school, excited to tell my mother about what I have learnt and the games I played with my friends at school. I found my mother lying in bed. As I drew close, I realized she was crying. Something must have been terribly wrong, I thought. 
My father, Mr. Jacob burst into the house, shouting my mom’s name. I wondered what she might have done wrong. “My father then informed me that I was getting married in the next two weeks,” I recall. “For a moment, I thought he was joking…I tried opening my mouth, but no words came out. It was not open for discussion or negotiation; the deal had been sealed.
“I started screaming, and my mother rushed out to grab me while my father angrily threatened to beat – or even kill – me, if I refused. I was helpless. It was like a nightmare. I saw my world crashing around me. I wanted the nightmare to end so I could be back at school with my friends but what could I have done at that tender age because I was only 13 years old then.”
 
“Each time he wanted to make love to me, he would beat me. He wouldn’t allow me to leave the house for any reason, he will tire my hands and leg wide open. I felt so depressed that I tried to take my own life.” 
 
Meanwhile, child marriage is a fundamental human rights violation and has an impact on all aspects of a girl’s life. Child marriage denies a girl of her childhood, disrupts her education, limits her opportunities, increases her risk of violence and abuse, jeopardizes her health and therefore constitutes an obstacle to the achievement of nearly every Sustainable Development Goal and the development of healthy communities.
In Ghana, child marriage occurs sometimes as young as 8 years old, is widespread. The recent National Social Protection Monitoring Survey showed that 13 per cent of girls under the age of 18 in Yemen are married, and that nearly half of women between the ages of 20 and 49 were married before their eighteenth birthday.
“It is really a sad and painful phenomenon if you see young girls getting married, losing their childhood and missing out on educational opportunities,” In addition to the harm it causes the girls, themselves, the practice is having a quiet, yet drastic, impact on the country.
HACEP-Ghana End Child Marriage Programme proved to be my salvation.
They attempted to persuade Mr. Jacob (my husband) to let me complete education. But, financial commitments had been made in conjunction with the marriage – and I was forcibly married.
 
With the help of the amazing organization (HACEP-Ghana) and its donors as well as some family members, I was able to escape this nightmare. I was taken to live with my grandmother in Tamale and never had to live with my supposed husband and was never forced to ‘consummate’ the marriage.
It never ceases to us here at HACEP-Ghana that such a simple, direct solution improves so much for girls around the globe. You are the reason why Vivian now has a future, Education and her Rights, the effects are enormous as this will ripple and inspire a lot of young girls to also stand up against Child Marriage and secure their future and Education. Thank you for being an important part of the solution to end child marriage in Ghana. 
Vivian in Class
Vivian in Class
Vivian and Friend
Vivian and Friend
Vivian Celebrating Life with Friends
Vivian Celebrating Life with Friends
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Rafia in Class
Rafia in Class

Rafia was 10 when her childhood came to an abrupt end. 'I was playing outside and my mum called me inside to the house,' she remembers of the day her world changed which he thought it was forever.'She said "you're going to marry". I was surprised and I cried but I didn't say anything to them [her parents].' Her wedding, to a man of 30, (thrice her age) took place just two months later. Shocking though it might seem, her experience is by no means unique. According to

"I was in school,' she remembers, and had to stopped the school when I was married. I did not have happy memories of that childhood, the only thing that I was doing was just eat and play, I didn't know him,' she says. I was not OK when I saw him - he was an old man. 'I was collecting water, wood and cooking for my husband at that tender age and the days were like that,' she remembers. The water was far away and not near to our house. We would go far, and then come back and I would cook for my husband."

By the time she was 13, Rafia, although still a child herself had a baby son, Mutari, now 6, to care for as well.She remembers the pregnancy and birth as a traumatic time, made worse by the fact that her immature body couldn't cope with the physical demands of carrying a baby.

"When I was pregnant, it was painful and I cried,' she recalls. 'And also when the baby was delivered it was so painful because I was a child. But if pregnancy was difficult, motherhood was even tougher and worse."

 At the time HACEP-Ghana End Child Marriage programme met Rafia, she thought she had no future but was hopeful to go to school. We sponsored her to write Basic Education Certificate Examination and surprisingly, she had a good grade and gain admission to Kalpohini Senior High School in Tamale.

"HACEP-Ghana, gave me a future, the reproductive club is so much beneficial to me as it build my self confidence and though me how to fight for my rights, said Rafia" I file for divorce with the help of HACEP-Ghana and went back to school to fulfill my future potentials.

"Rafia, is such an inspirational leader and vehemently speak against Child, Early and Forced Marriage and inspires young girls to improve the Sexual and reproductive Health and Rights, Imagine such a brilliant and promising future leader was going to be destroyed all in the name of Marriage, said Shani, Rafia’s class teacher."

Today Rafia, is a role model and a strong advocate in her community, helping girls in and out of school to improve their Sexual and Reproductive Health and Right and to stand against Child Marriage.

It never ceases to amaze me that such a simple, direct solution improves so much for girls around the globe. You are the reason why Rafia now has a future, Education and Her Rights, the effects are enormous02 as this will ripple and inspire a lot of young girls to also stand up against Child Marriage and secure their future and Education. Thank you for being an important part of the solution to end child marriage in Ghana. 

Rafia drawing
Rafia drawing
HACEP-Ghana Staff Interacting with Rafia' Class
HACEP-Ghana Staff Interacting with Rafia' Class
Headmaster Thanking HACEP-Ghana Staff
Headmaster Thanking HACEP-Ghana Staff
Staff and Beneficiary
Staff and Beneficiary
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Hamdia sharing her story
Hamdia sharing her story

Hamdia was 11 years old when her marriage was arranged without her consent. She was only told at age 15 when she was in Junior High School that her husband is ready to come and take her, now she is only 16.

 She is from a village where “when a girl is born, it is always bad news,” Hamdia helped her mother with housework from a very early age and started working at eight years old barely after a few years of schooling. In her village, the rate of literacy among girls and women is one of the lowest in the Northern Region.

 Battling with her parents about her marriage, a friend proposed our Girl Empowerment Club for Hamdia. Upon joining the club, Hamdia has been one of the active members. One day, after one of her powerful presentation in a group work, the facilitator told Hamdia:

 “I am hopeful and sure that you will be an inspiration to other young girls. So that villages in Ghana can eliminate this notion of marrying girls at the cost of their education, health, their future and ultimately their happiness.”

 For Hamdia, these words were life transforming and a moment of change, such motivation was all that she needed to do the right thing. Yes, in the Club she learned that she had rights and that she wasn’t her parent’s property. But never thought she had that power to “Say No” to her Marriage not to talk of inspiring others.

 One night, 16 year old Hamdia told her parents that she will not marry her “Suppose Husband” because she have the right to “Choose Whom and When” to get married, however, Hamdia’s parents beat her violently prohibiting her from going to School and the Girls Club and depriving her of food.

 If not for your generous support, we would not have been able to empower Hamdia and several more like her to stand up for their rights against all odds. She stood up for her rights and got support from her peers and community members to Say No to her marriage and was successful and had since return to school and her Girls’ Empowerment Club.

 When asked how she felt been free from Child Marriage, Hamdia said:

 “I now have all the potentials to realize my dream of becoming a Nurse by profession and all girls have the right to be free from all forms of violence including the right to choose whom and when to get married and must be supported to exercise these rights”

Today the story of Hamdia conveys a strong message of hope for numerous young girls in communities in Northern Ghana where Child Marriage remains a traditional and tolerated practice.

Girls’ lives are changing every single day; it never ceases to amaze me that such a simple, direct solution improves so much for girls around the globe. Thank you for being an important part of the solution.

Hamdia sharing her story
Hamdia sharing her story
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Girls escorting Sumaya to school
Girls escorting Sumaya to school

Sumaya’s brave story fights these odds of child marriage in Northern Ghana. She decided that her life had another purpose and she chose to live the difference. But in traditional Dagomba communities like hers, girls are married young. She was only 13 when she wed her 40 year old husband. She was one among the many of his wives and they were to be the only family she had. It was a union that was both coerced and unhealthy. At 14, she gave birth to her first of three children, with no medical care or trained staff around her. The constant state of pregnancy and lack of medical attention exhausted her. She had a hard time controlling her bladder and it was painful to urinate. She was regularly beaten by her husband and found no way to escape his abuse.
Sumaya met Ms Adam Mariam (a volunteer with Protect 5,000 Girls from Child Marriage in Ghana) during a community outreach programme in her village.
Through referral for counselling, peer support, Sumaya gradually found her way. Her self-confidence grew and she finally had the courage to return to Senior High School in Tamale.

“I want to be a university lecturer,” she said “and I didn’t want child marriage to stand on my way.”

With the help of the volunteer, HACEP-Ghana, allies and community leaders she began to advocate education of girls and dissuade child, early and forced marriages in her community.

The project assisted her to return to school, form a girls club in the community school and designated a safe space for girls in the community which the chief and elders of her village approved for girls to meet, play, build their confidence, learn new skill and most importantly receive comprehensive sexuality education and how to protect themselves from Child Marriage.
Since, September, the club began to grew from 5 girls to 10 and 21 by the end of October.

Today Sumaya is 20 years old with 3 children and back to school with a vision of becoming a university lecturer in future. She left a blazing trail for young girls in her community and the hope that many will follow her as a result of the support she received from our project. Whatever the tradition of communities around the world, such a show of strength can inspire any social transformation and should push every government to change their laws or better implement existing legislation to protect girls from Child Marriage.
Sumaya’s story is the story of 407,000 of the young girls born between 2005 and 2010 who will be married/in union before age 18 by 2030 if present trends continue. The realities of these numbers on ground today are far more catastrophic, but when you consider what an educated 5,000 girls in Ghana with opportunities of education, growth, health and rights could do! If you begin to measure the incredible potential of even half of this numbers of young girls in Northern Ghana becoming advocates for sexual and reproductive health and rights, professionals, leaders, entrepreneurs or teachers, what kind of prosperity are we allowing to be extinguished by ghastly practices like child marriage? It is important to care, and ending child marriage does matter!

Sumaya’s story would not have been possible without you. More girls will have Education, more dignity, more safe spaces, stay in school and yes, less fear of been married as children. For that matter, without your support, Suamaya might not have been able to go back to school, inspire change in her community and impact on the lives of girls in her community. It never ceases to amaze me that such a simple, direct solution improves so much for girls around the globe. Thank you for being an important part of the solution.

“Change is possible when we believe in girls and empower them with Education and Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights information, knowledge, skills and services” says Sumaya, “I am living proof.”

Sumaya first day at School
Sumaya first day at School
Sumaya in school
Sumaya in school
Sumaya in Class
Sumaya in Class
Safe Space for Girls in Sumaya's village
Safe Space for Girls in Sumaya's village
Sumaya's Girls club and their Paramount Chief
Sumaya's Girls club and their Paramount Chief
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Amina, the girl rescued from Child Marriage
Amina, the girl rescued from Child Marriage

Thanks to your support, we will be sending 6 more girls to school this week (and exploring further with the traditional, faith and opinion leaders of Chanzeni community on how to bring back the 12 girls who have been married off this year as children and have stopped schooling) we will send them to school as well. You should see the excitement of the two families when Amina and Nasara were leaving their house to stay with a host family in the city to start school on Wednesday 2nd September, 2015 when we took them last week. While we have two girls starting school this term, our dream is to reach 5,000 girls in Northern Ghana.

The last time we went to their houses after they successfully took their entrance exams to start their school the mother said when she was asked if rescuing Amina from the hand of the old man and sending her back to school feels like, “I had no choice because we do not have money to take care of Amina to become the doctor she always dream of, that is why we married her to the old man but I knew she would not send her to school and Amina’s dreams will be shuttered, now I feel happy because a girl in the family is going to school for the first time” Thanks to you more girls will go to school this academic year, unleash their potentials and become empowered to achieve their dreams.

Thank you for being an important part of the solution to end child marriage in Ghana. Amina and Jemila are preparing to go back to school! By the time you get this, they will be at school for the first day. We'll keep you updated as this project progresses.

Nasara 2nd Girl rescued from marriage to school
Nasara 2nd Girl rescued from marriage to school
Staff with Amina's family
Staff with Amina's family
The 6 child brides who will be going to school
The 6 child brides who will be going to school
Access to SRHR information & services club  girls
Access to SRHR information & services club girls
Official Kick-off meeting for the project
Official Kick-off meeting for the project
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Organization Information

Hats Community Empowerment Programme (HACEP-Ghana)

Location: Tamale, Northern Region - Ghana
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @hacepghana
Project Leader:
Abass Hamza
Mr.
Tamale, Northern Region Ghana
$66,756 raised of $500,000 goal
 
1,072 donations
$433,244 to go
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