Recently, I was pottering around Lawra Town and a sweet young boy came over to me to tell me he was hungry.
Despite the poverty we see across Upper West Ghana every day, it isn’t often I am asked approached in this way by children, which shows the desperation of this boy, Kofi. As I find out more over lunch, I discover that his father died and his mother traveled to the south to try to earn a living. With no remaining parents in Lawra, Kofi was left to fend for himself. He was hungry and dropped out of school.
Not long after, another boy comes into the Inclusion Centre looking for one of our hub managers. This boy was slightly older than Kofi, around 16 years. I had seen him many times helping the bus drivers and trailer drivers in town. Had he not visited ATE’s Inclusion Centre and introduced himself as Godfred, aged 16, I would have always thought he was around 20 and just doing casual work in town.
Little did I know the reason he visited our centre. This boy had heard about the work we do at ATE, and built up the bravery and courage to ask one of our Hub Managers for help. He wanted to go back to school. Before his father dies and his mother left, he had been in a local primary school, in Class 6. He was forced to leave to make money to survive. This is a decision so many families face as they decide between education or employment for their child.
Here we were at ATE with two young boys eager to go back to school.
We can now report that both boys have returned back to school and had a full week, returning to education, with our support.
The day we made this change happen was special. It facilitated the literal transformation for two hardened young men, who had been working to survive. They were now given the chance to be children again, to focus on schooling and learning.
Staff had worked quickly to enrol the children in school and prepare everything they needed. Their uniforms were ready on Sunday evening so they collected them from Propser ready for their first day back.
I couldn’t believe it when they were waiting at our Inclusion Centre on Monday morning, looking very smart in their uniforms. When asked how long they’d been there, they said they’d arrived between 6 and 6.30am. The day was a roller-coaster, getting to see fear turn to nerves and nerves to excitement.
Here is Kofi, a sweet 14 year old boy who has returned to primary class 5. Here at out partner school Karbo Primary School, he receives free breakfast from ATE every morning and a Ghana Government Feeding Program lunch also, ensuring he gets two nutritious meals a day to help him concentrate on focus on school.
Here is Godfred, a hardened and intelligent 16 year old, brave enough to humble himself to go back to primary school at this age and focus on learning and hopefully progressing to Junior High next year. His troubles at home aren’t over, but at least at school he can focus. With care, educational materials and vital food, we’ve been able to support and see Godfred go from a sad young adult to a child able to learn.We are so thankful to all of our supporters who connect with our stories and enable us to directly impact the lives of children and communities across lawra District.
If you would like to donate directly to helping Kofi and Godfred, and the many more children like them who desperately need our help, please donate here: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/donation-web/charity?charityId=1013337&logout=Y
By Jessica Cruse