In a society characterized by abject poverty, untimely death, mass illiteracy, sanitation challenges and child wastage, life in that society becomes unbearable for the youth and there seem to be no hope for future generations. No one is coming out with a creative idea to help salvage the plights of the youth.
The community which exists way back before independent has been forsaken and neglected. The inhabitants are always marginalized and there is a general perception that nothing good can ever come from any person from that community. Any violent act in the country is quickly associated to that community. Most students and workers are forced to change their identity when seeking admission into schools or job placements due to the negative perception about the community.
Education which is the key to development has been neglected. There are no enough public schools within these communities which will at least compel parents to send their wards to school. The private schools in these communities charge exorbitant fees which parents cannot afford to get their wards enrolled.
Girls in this community suffered the most. Quality education is out of reach for a girl child. A girl child in these Zongo communities has been the subject of many debates as to whether or not she is full human being or even had a soul. Today she is still facing the challenges of diseases, poverty and ignorance. These challenges ultimately affect her socially, economically and politically.
Many people in Zongo communities do not see the need for the girl child to be sent to school. She is still seen as some one’s property and so it is not worth investing in her education. There are also these general perceptions that, the best place for these girls are in the kitchen.
Largely illiterate and ignorant, woman and girls are marginalized and relate to the background. They mostly live in slums and are looked down upon by other members of the Ghanaian society. In view of their low background and lack of quality education, the most average parents in the Zongo communities do not see education of their children as a priority. They spend most of their money on unproductive ventures such as buying new clothes for weeding and naming ceremonies at the expense of their children.
Failure to send these girls to school is one of the reasons why today we have many of school-going girls in many of the capital cities hawking and carrying loads at the market places and are popularly known as “kayayei”, which means a woman who carries loads for fee.
With a background of Sociology and Social Work at Kwame University of Science and Technology, Mr. Amadu Mohammed, a man of courage and determination, defile the odds and the status quo of these age old general perceptions in the Zongo communities by founding an organization called Achievers Book Club (ABC). The Achievers Book Club (ABC) is an independent Ghanaian non-profit organization, with a simple mission: Education for all girls in slums in Ghana.
The story of ABC starts with a girl called Amina. She lives in the Accra slum of Nima. Despite limited access to education, Amina Ismael excels at school. However, all her hard work looks in vain when, at the tender age of 12, her uncle want to force her into early marriage. They betroth her to a man who will take responsibility for her after the marriage. Amina’s situation raises lots of issues with some of her teachers. Amongst the teachers is Mr. Amadu Mohammed. Mr. Amadu intervenes and rescued her by reporting the case to the appropriate authorities. Courageously, Amina managed to avoid the marriage and was able to continue her education.
What Amina experienced has happened and continues to happen to a lot of innocent girls in her community. Everybody thought nothing could be done about it, because of cultural and religious acceptance. Grateful for the intervention of the Mr. Amadu and the authorities, Amina, at now age 15 and still a student, becomes an advocate for girl child education. Mr. Amadu believes that for the world to be at peace, women need to be educated to a higher level. Mr. Amadu nominated Amina to the Children’s World Peace Prize in 2012 and she was one of the third finalists.
Since the inception of the organization, Mr. Amadu as the founder and Director has introduced lots of educational activities as extra-curriculum activities to help build the self-esteem of these deprived and marginalized girls which will help them take challenges and contribute meaningful to the development of their various communities. Some of these activities are providing funds for school fees, books and uniforms. The level of funding support is decided after certain selection criteria are met for each girl. The progress of each girl, including grades and attendance are regularly evaluated.
Extra-curricular activities such as debating and public speaking are organized to build up the girls’ soft skills and confidence. Excursions outside the community are critical to expand the girls’ horizons and raise awareness of life outside the slum and to inspire them.
It also engaged parents in the community to support the education of their female children. This is a continual and long term process involving local schools and guest speakers. More than 250 young people have benefited from his charitable activities.
This year on the 4th of April, Mr. Amadu Mohammed was a proud recipient of the MTN Heroes for Change award. Amadu Mohammed was nominated for 3 of the 5 categories, ultimately receiving the award for Community Crusader through his selfless and impactful work at Achievers Book Club.
Mr. Amadu is truly -a hero who despite all the challenges in a community where change is difficult and with all the critics against him is doing his possible best to build confidence in the youth especially girls who are left behind in the ladder for achieving success and a meaningful life.
Nineteen year-old Umar Farouk Nazir is currently a Senior High School Graduate.
© 2014 – 2017, Contributing Writer. All rights reserved.