This podcast features Rahamatu Lahi, Zakaria Abdul Hakim and Rafiu fishbone, they reminisce, reflect and ponder about everything and anything
My last week’s activities included learning, unlearning and relearning but also acknowledging the privileges I had while growing up. A better tomorrow for children starts with a meaningful engagement for them.
I was fortunate to be part of the SWIDA-GH team visiting beneficiary communities of World Vision Ghana under Gushegu. As part of the visit, we were tasked to collate views from youth groups concerning actions they as youth groups would like to have in their communities to protect children, especially girls.
Lack of skill training centres, extracurricular activities for teenagers and the rampant roaming at night by teenagers were some of the issues that these youth groups stated that they would want to tackle. All these they said contributed to teenage pregnancy, substance abuse, school dropout and other social vices in the communities.
Reflecting on these revelations made me acknowledge the privileges I had growing up and how it has shaped me. I grew up surrounded by many after-school activities. If you know me very well, you know that the library is my friend. I use to visit the library after school and when school days were no longer favouring me, it shifted to Saturday. I had extra classes after school. Weekdays were for school and weekends were for Makaranta.
The education was also balanced with entertainment and fun. Growing up, I never missed any Sallah, Christmas or Easter party. We use to travel from Dalun to Tamale for all the parties. Then times when VRA was the only place that had a swimming pool in Tamale, Saturdays were for swimming and we travelled from Dalun to Tamale for swimming lessons.
Holidays were for camping and travelling. My vacations were spent travelling to meet, greet, build, rebuild and form new relationships, from Bawku (maternal home), Yendi (Paternal home) and Accra (we liked Accra because of the Christmas party and we also had other relatives there) and then back to Tamale and Dalun.
As the saying goes, the devil finds work for the idle man. I was engaged throughout my childhood but this cannot be said for these community children. If we do not find ways to engage them productively, they will find activities to engage themselves and the result of these activities will be disastrous for all of us. These activities can also slow down the attainment of the SDGs by 2030.
This is a statement from one of the women in Gushegu during a group discussion I facilitated. The back story: a teacher impregnated her teenage daughter who was still in junior high school.
With no consultation, the men told her the teacher had come with some elders to apologise so no action was taken. The matter ends there.
When women’s voices are ignored at home, the circle of poverty continues. Girls’ education is cut short. It also affects the quality of health care and nutrition.
This teacher would probably continue to destroy the future of girls in society because he knows that, no action will be taken against him.
Assertiveness is not arrogance or witchcraft. Assertiveness is standing up for your rights and your beliefs.
As part of World Vision’s strategic exit plan, I joined SWIDA GH to collate views from youth groups and opinion leaders in Karaga and Gushegu districts. In one of our community engagements, the youth requested when next we visit, we should bring condoms for them.
I was happy about the request coming from the youth group. The manner in which they said it was unapologetic. In plain language, they told us they are having sex but they are not going to give it up. What they can do it to take responsibility for their action by using protection.
If you read or listen to the news, you would also be happy. The surge in HIV/AIDS among teenagers in the country is alarming. If abstinence is not working then, we need to hammer more on protection.
We cannot turn a blind eye that teenagers are not having sex. From the religious context, you can say it is haram. For fear, parents want to believe the lie that their wards are angels. That they are not engaged in any sexual activities. It is better to acknowledge the problem and then dialogue to find the solution to it.
One interesting thing about this community is that, when you give birth out of wedlock, you cannot organise a naming ceremony. This bylaw was passed to curb teenage pregnancy. The community members have also banned ’dance’ during naming ceremonies. According to them, ‘dance’ is also a contributing factor to teenage pregnancy.
This community also taught me the inequalities that exist between girls in school and girls out of school. When a girl in school is impregnated, the man is made to take responsibility for the teenager by making sure she learns a skill after she gives birth but this same bylaw is not applied to girls out of school. We all can be females but the level of discrimination that we face is not the same.