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How schools are turning hopelessness to hope in rural Ghana Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Rashid, Canada Apr 5, 2007
Culture , Health , Human Rights , Education   Opinions
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In the Upper Denkyira District of Ghana lie the small communities of Kramokrom, Camp, and Nyame Bekyere. These rural farming villages are located deep in the rain forest and lack many basic necessities. In total, there are over 500 inhabitants of the villages and approximately another 400 people living in the surrounding settlements. Subsistence farming is the main source of income for the villagers with most families generating about 100 dollars per year. About 90% of the entire population is illiterate and few of the children are educated. Schools are few and far between and teachers often refuse postings here. The villagers live in poor sanitary conditions and no medical facilities to cater for their health needs; poverty is endemic.
The women of the villages endure many hardships throughout their lives. They are slaves to their society and their culture. When they are only small girls, they are made to work in the fields. Education is still thought to be more important for boys. The girls can be sent to live with relatives, where instead of going to school, they are treated like servants. They cook, clean, and help the wives look after the babies.
The women have no control over who they marry. They are often subject to verbal, physical and sexual abuse from their husbands. Many of the villagers are from the Muslim and traditional cultures in the area which allow the husband to take on more than one wife. In these instances, one wife will usually be treated worse than the other. The husband is not obligated to give the women money for food or for the well-being of the children. This means that in addition to cooking, cleaning, sewing, and caring for the children, the women have to work on the farms and sell petty wares and produce at the market.
It does not matter if they are sick or hungry, they still have to work. They will go into debt to take their child to the doctor, if they are lucky enough to find someone to loan them the money. If the mothers cannot work, the children cannot eat. If the mothers have no money, the children have no money.
Faustina Hawa was taken to the Ivory Coast when she was a teenager with her father to farm.
“One day, a young man came to ask for my hand in marriage. I didn’t know him, but I agreed to the proposal anyway. We courted for awhile, and I soon realized I was engaged to a monster. He would beat me regularly and severely. I was frightened and young. I changed my mind. I didn’t want to spend my life with that man. I told my family, ‘I won’t marry him. He hits me.’
My mother supported me. But my father was angry. He wanted me to keep the commitment. My parents fought and fought for weeks over my future, but eventually my father demanded I marry him. So I was forced into the arrangement.
Those years were terrible. He would leave me for months at a time and leave me no money with which to eat or feed our two baby girls. When he was home, he would beat me and deny me and our children food and money. Our neighbors and landlord took care of us so we wouldn’t starve. One day, when my husband had been gone a long time, I got a job and worked very hard. I made enough money for my transportation to Ghana. I couldn’t bring my daughters then, it wasn’t safe. I left them in the care of my landlord, promising I’d be back .For two years; I worked very hard, saving nearly everything I earned. I tried to open a canteen, but after awhile I realized I was only going into debt. So I worked on the farms as a laborer, doing weeding. Then I returned for my daughters. It’s been eight years now, and my husband has never tried to find us. We live in the village peacefully.
Life is very hard for me. I have to work very hard and still take care of my children. I have to borrow money if they get sick to pay for the medicine. I make 15,000 cedis a day ($1.50 U.S.). I am always in debt. I had to send my youngest daughter away to live with my family in Takoradi. My daughter, Patience, still lives with me and is very bright and beautiful.”
In the villages, many people die from preventable illness. Children as young as 3 years old walk for over four miles through unguarded rain forest. They go to school at the age of 3. They come in tattered clothes, looking malnourished and spiritless. They come because it’s the only way to get away from laborious work and inhumane treatment from parents and guardians who feel they have no choice but to put their children to work on the farm, if they are to get enough food and money to take care of them Children are the cheapest form of labor and these poor peasant farmers cannot afford to engage the services of laborers.
Child-rearing, the upbringing of children into adulthood in a manner that is acceptable to society and beneficial to the child, has always remained the headache of some parents. Most parents dread child upbringing and some even at times regret having had children altogether due to socio-economic factors. Most parents, unfortunately, think that their children are lucky not to be going through the painful experiences that they might have gone through in their own childhood. At the slightest opportunity, therefore, they try to let their children taste their own negative past experiences. They do not realize that those experiences might have had a telling effect on their own achievement and that different people respond differently to different situations.

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There is Hope In Rural Africa
Eugenia Bivines | Jul 17th, 2007
I love your article and it is an informative way to let people of the world know how life is in Ghana.

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