Light for Children 2014 Annual Activity Report
Volunteers remain at the center of most of Light for Children’s activities. Most of our international volunteers come to us through our partner organizations, which include Voluntaressor (Sweden), Save a Heart (Denmark) and Hong Kong University. We also hosted volunteers from Saudi Arabia, Norway, UAE, Germany, the US, and Canada during 2014, and began a new partnership through GlobeMed with Spelman University in the US.
In 2014, volunteers participated in the following placements and projects:
Orphanage work (Mampong Babies’ Home, Missions of Charity)
Street Children Project
Preventive Sexual Abuse Workshops
Community sanitation and construction of toilet facilities
Teaching in schools in Kumasi and Nsuta
Working with students at the Education Center library and computer lab in Kumasi
Long-term volunteer Lisa Parsons created a new website, acted as a guide for volunteers, and ran programs at the Education Center library.
Volunteers are also encouraged to explore the land and culture of Ghana when they are not working, and are given guidance by Light for Children staff.
PREVENTIVE CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE WORKSHOPS
In January 2010, Light for Children launched Preventive Child Sexual Abuse workshops in the basic and junior high schools. These workshops, conducted by trained staff and volunteers, educate children about the different types of sexual assault, how to prevent them, and what to do if they are sexually assaulted. This program has the support of both the Ghana Police Service and the Ghana Education Service. Light for Children staff also provide follow-up services for children who call to report incidents of abuse, connecting the victims with DOVVSU and other support systems.
In February 2014, Light for Children began hosting interns from the social work department of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. Through this partnership, the university regularly sends interns to work on the Preventive Child Sexual Abuse program.
In June Light for Children began a new partnership with Spelman University in the US through GlobeMed. Six students travelled to Ghana at the beginning of June to work primarily on the sexual abuse prevention workshops.
In June and July, a group of 9 students from Hong Kong University’s Social Sciences department volunteered with Light for Children. This group conducted Preventive Child Sexual Abuse workshops in Kumasi-area schools. Throughout the year, other international volunteers ran the program in Kumasi and Mampong/Nsuta whenever they were available.
Also in 2014, with the help of Ghana National Service personnel, Light for Children extended this program to include Sunyani in the Brong-Ahafo region.
In June of 2014 Light for Children’s new Education Center opened its doors in Atonsu, Kumasi. This center consists of a library and computer lab, and it is located on the grounds of the Atonsu cluster of public schools. The Education Center celebrated its official Grand Opening in October.
Volunteers taught basic computer skills to both students and children from the community. Teachers from the nearby secondary school are now teaching ICT classes, a core part of the secondary school curriculum, at the computer lab.
In the library, volunteers ran programs to engage the children with books and writing. Children had the opportunity to join a program where they practised both reading and creative writing. By the end of the program, the children had written 3 new picture books that are now part of the library collection.
Volunteers have also opened the library for a drop-in program in which children come to read books and draw their own artwork.
Moving forward, Light for Children plans to attract funding to staff the library with a local librarian, making the collection available to school programs and the community at large.
HIV CHILDREN CARE AND SUPPORT
Light for Children originally began as a means to support HIV positive children in the Kumasi area by providing sponsors to help pay for medication, nutrition, and education for affected children. Light for Children currently sponsors 43 such children and their caregivers.
In 2010 Light for Children stopped receiving funding from Ghana AIDS Commission and other major donors, because of the declining rates of infection in Ghana. We are still sponsoring children through volunteer donations and private sponsors, but have not been able to add new children to the program since 2010.
In 2012 we acquired two new Swedish sponsors, Susanne Sandquist and Una Mether. Susanne is supporting 4 children, and Una is supporting one girl in Nsuta. We now have a total of 11 sponsors.
COCOA FARMING VILLAGES
In 2013 Light for Children was heavily involved in the ECHOES III Project, an initiative that was intended to foster literacy in 5 isolated cocoa farming villages over a three-year period. Funding for this project was unexpectedly cut off after just one year, but Light for Children has attempted to continue support to the villages whenever possible.
Rebecca Kuntz arranged for the donation of books to start school libraries in two of the villages, Asakraka and Nkorang. Bookshelves and other furnishings were also donated.
In March, Light for Children partnered with Dr Wanye of Unite for Sight to provide eye screening for Nkorang and Asakraka. Seven people from these villages who had lost their sight to cataracts were given surgery free of charge to restore their vision.
A young girl in Asakraka became pregnant after being raped, and Light for Children agreed to sponsor her during and after her pregnancy to make sure she had access to proper medical care and nutrition. Light for Children has since been able to find her a permanent sponsor, enabling her to care for her child and continue her education.
BUILDING OF COMMUNITY TOILET FACILITIES
Over the summer holidays, BTP, a group of students from Hong Kong University, constructed sanitary facilities for villages in the Kumasi area. The facilities include toilets and a place for hand washing, and are greatly appreciated by the communities.
This group first built a sanitary facility through Light for Children in the summer of 2012, and will be back to build more facilities in 2015.
FEMALE CONDOM PROJECT
In partnership with the Society for Women and AIDS in Africa (SWAA), Light for Children began a four-year project to promote use of female condoms in Ghana. Yaw Otchere has been coordinating the training of local volunteers, and reporting to SWAA on their activities. Ghanaian volunteers meet with women in local markets to educate them about the use of female condoms and give them the opportunity to purchase a sample packet at a nominal cost. Usually these events also included education on another health issue, such as high blood pressure or diabetes. These events have been very successful, with about 1500 women purchasing condom samples every month.
CONFERENCES, TRAINING AND COMMITTEE WORK
In March, Project coordinator Mike Owusu attended the annual general meeting or Ashanti Regional Branch of Ghana National Child’s Right Coalition. He was unanimously elected as vice chairman of the Coalition.
In April, Executive Director Yaw Otchere attended training in children’s rights, by the Coalition of NGO’s on the Rights of Children. The training program ran for 5 days starting on May 31 in Kumasi, and focused on familiarizing participants with laws and conventions regulating child rights in Ghana and internationally. Various member organizations who will be implementing the Girl Power Project, funded by Plan Ghana, participated. The project will help and encourage girls to avoid sexual and other abuse, get an education, and improve their futures. As a member of the Coalition, Light for Children was invited to receive the training, even though we are not involved in implementing the project.
Mike Owusu attended the 2014 GlobeMed East Africa Partner Forum in Entebbe, Uganda during the first 3 days of May. This was the first time all the African partners, including new ones, met to discuss the common challenges of global partnership.
In June, Yaw Otchere attended a meeting of the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition from the 22nd to 24th of June. The meeting aimed to empower local businesses, assembly members, and NGO’s to engage in development with transparency and accountability.
Yaw also attended a meeting to discuss ways to improve reliable access to electricity in a financially and environmentally responsible way.
In October, Yaw Otchere attended a one-day forum organized by the Ghana Integrity Initiative discuss how the central government is generating and spending funds, and to encourage the public to expect and demand transparency from the government.
Mike Owusu and Yaw Otchere attended a two-day workshop about the Ebola virus that was then affecting several countries in West Africa. The aim of the conference was to inform people about the nature of the Ebola virus and to better prepare them in the case of an outbreak in Ghana.
In November, Mike attended a conference in Sunyani about tuberculosis. There are forms of tuberculosis that attack areas of the body other than the lungs, and HIV-infected children are especially prone to this form of the disease. With increased awareness, we hope that more people with this condition will seek diagnosis and treatment.
The Coalition of NGOs on the Rights of Children held its annual general meeting in Kumasi in December. Light for Children’s own Mike Owusu was elected Vice-Chairman of the Coalition for the Ashanti Region.