Ghana has made impressive progress regarding economic development and growth since the 1980’s. Despite this there still exists a wide gap in income in the country, especially between the rural north of the country that is prone to drought and experiences high levels of poverty, and the south with more economic opportunities. Like other developing countries, informal settlements have sprung up around the capital Accra located in the south, as a result of economic migration to the city.
Our longest partnership has been with Self-Help Initiative Support Services (SISS), a community organisation in Accra that was established to provide help and support to homeless women and street youth in informal settlements. The largest of these informal settlements is Agbogbloshie, where around 70,000 people live in squalid conditions with dumping of industrial waste, overcrowding, poor quality housing, few sanitary facilities and the threat of eviction.
With SISS we established a training centre providing vocational skills training for street youth in Accra’s biggest slum, Agbogbloshie. These were mostly young people from rural areas who left school early to look after family or relatives. Many then migrated to the capital to look for work but ended up eking out a living in the slum. Others were young women who had escaped forced marriages in their villages. We identified and encouraged the most vulnerable to enrol, such as street women, disabled people or people affected by HIV/AIDS.
Our Agbogbloshie Development Project trained over 2,000 slum dwellers in Agbogbloshie slum in Accra, and supported them to find jobs and accommodation.
Three of our trainees were helped through the project to apply to and eventually complete university degrees on full scholarships. Another, Evelyn, was interviewed for Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 after setting up a café which became very successful and popular in the slum.
Our most famous disabled trainee, Alem, was empowered to enter and compete at the London Paralympics as a cyclist for Ghana. He is now a professional athlete and spokesperson for disabled rights in Ghana. Read Alem's story.