Peace, 35, lives with three of her seven children at the edge of a polluted beach where plastic bottles and garbage stretch as far as the eye can see. The smell is overpowering. Poor sanitation in this Ghanaian community means neighbours walk over the dump to defecate near the shoreline.
“The children complain and cry that we should move from here, but I can’t,” says Peace, who worries that if they move her 15-year-old son Mau* will stop going to school. “I can’t let that happen. He likes school and I’ve explained to the children that for him, we have to sacrifice and stay around for a while.”
But for Peace and her children, help has arrived that could turn the tide.
A team from SOS Children’s Villages Ghana recently learnt of Peace’s dire living conditions and developed plans to support her. The family strengthening team equips caregivers like Peace with the skills and tools to better care and protect their children, with the hope of reducing the chances of child abandonment.
A decent place to live
Peace has lived in this small one-room house on the shoreline for three years. She already had to send four of her children to stay with relatives, and now lives with her son Mau and her five-year-old twins.
Peace, who dropped out of school at a young age, can only find work as a porter at a nearby fishing harbour, earning about 60 Cedis (10 Euro) per day. Peace leaves the twins with a neighbour when she goes to work. “I want to take the twins to kindergarten, but I haven’t been able to the raise enough money and that’s why they’re still at home. This is one thing I’m working on,” she adds.
Antony Owusu, the SOS family strengthening coordinator, says his first priority is to find Peace and her children a decent place to live and to make sure the children have access to proper nutrition, quality education and healthcare.
The shoreline where Peace and her children live
Peace, like other families supported by SOS, will attend training to gain parenting and entrepreneurship skills, so she is able to properly care for her children and run a business.
“One important practice we impress on caregivers is the art of savings,” explains Mr Owusu. “Peace will be encouraged to join other SOS programme participants in a village savings and loan association, where she can save some money and easily take small loans to meet her various needs. We will walk with her on this journey of recovery.”
Peace is hopeful that working with the family strengthening team will greatly transform her family, and keep her children from the grip of poverty.
*Name changed to protect the privacy of the child.
Help SOS Ghana support Peace and other families
Learn more about our work in Ghana