Doin' it for the kids

"The youth have the most important human resource potential that can contribute significantly to the overall development of a nation," says Nicholas Cofie - the founder and ceo of the MyHelp-YourHelp Foundation.

Yvonne Akuffo-Parry leads other members in feeding street children © MH-YH Foundation

Nicholas grew up as an orphan and was motivated to establish the Foundation to improve the socio-economic status of orphans, widows and street children in Ghana.


According to the Ghana Demographics Profile for July 2020 [1], from a population of just over 29 million, children under the age of 15 account for 37.44%. And despite being enshrined in Ghana's law that no child below the age of 15 should be allowed to work or fend for himself or herself [2], children are still vulnerable to living on the street.


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Streetism

Streetism is a term used to describe children who live and work on the streets. Most of these underprivileged children are homeless because of the impact of divorce, death of a parent(s) or parent(s) not being able to fend for their children. Streetism is also linked to parental neglect or death, truancy, rural-urban migration, second generational street children, mental health issues and sexual, physical or emotional abuse. [3]


In Accra, the majority of street children are in Central Accra, Kwame Nkrumah Circle, Madina, Abeka-Lapaz and Kaneshie.

Journalist Precious Aseye with two youngsters that live on the street © MH-YH Foundation

Homeless children

Over 61,000 children were identified as living on Accra streets, according to a census carried out between 2007 and 2011 by the Department of Social Welfare in Ghana, Ricerca e Cooperazione, Catholic Action for Street Children and Street Girls Aid [4]. The census showed that 43% of the total population were male and 57% were female. The largest percentage (28.53%) of Accra's street children came from Ghana's Savannah and Northern regions, while the Bono and Ahafo had the lowest percentage of children at 2.38% on the streets [4].

Engineer Beulah Oppong-Ankomah © MH-YH Foundation

Street children are vulnerable to sexual, physical and economic exploitation. Lack of food is often one of their biggest challenges. Since 2018, the MyHelp-YourHelp Foundation has worked to tackle this and to date has completed 13 projects.


The Foundation's core mandate is in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 2) to eradicate hunger and is also linked to the need to fulfill scripture in Matthew 25:35, which states: 'For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.


Nurses Mary Dodse and Bridgette Adukpor © MH-YH Foundation

Thanks to the contributions of members from working-class professionals covering healthcare, education, engineering, business and security, marked its third anniversary on 31 July 2021. Under the theme: 'Feed a child, save a life' approximately 40 members converged at the Accra Retail Centre.

Lawyer King George distributing items © MH-YH Foundation

After prayers, food distribution started from Opeibea bus stop to Madina Zongo-Junction and back to the Accra Retail Centre. Five hundred bags containing packs of either jollof rice, fried rice or plain rice, with chicken or fish, soft drinks, water and snacks, including pastries, were distributed.


*** All images are credited to the MyHelp-YourHelp Foundation.***

References

  1. Ghana Demographics Profile, November 27, 2020 [online] Available from: www.indexmundi.com. [Accessed 1 August 2021]

  2. Afful, Henrietta. "The Increasing Case of Street Children" 2017 [Accessed 1 August 2021]

  3. "The Increasing Case of Street Children" gbcghana.com. Retrieved 2018-04-19

  4. "Census on Children in the Greater Accra Area" (PDF) by the Department of Social Welfare in Ghana, Ricerca e Cooperazione, Catholic Action for Street Children and Street Girls Aid. www.chance-for-children.org 2011.

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