An American volunteer named Seiria Sessame and a Ghanaian volunteer spent 10 weeks in February and March conducting Preventive Child Sexual Assault workshops in 18 basic schools in Kumasi, reaching a total of 45 classes. In early April Cecilia from Denmark joined the team. The objective of the workshop was to create awareness of the danger of child sexual abuse, giving children basic safety skills and teaching them about the support systems available in Ghana for victims of the sexual violence. In all 85 girls called the office to express their gratitude for the information that they received, 61 children called to inform us that they have applied the safety skills that they received through the workshop. 11 children called to confirm that they have been sexually abused by relatives such as uncles or stepfathers. Two of the girls initially expressed their willingness to report their cases to the police with Light For Children’s support, but later they were unwilling to follow through.
One of the challenges of addressing this issue in Ghana is that, while police and social support exists for survivors of abuse, the resources are limited. Unlike in many developed countries, an investigation cannot proceed unless the victim/survivor is proactive about pursuing it, even in the case of minors.
In May, a group of volunteers from Beyond the Pivot (BTP), a volunteer student organization from the University of Hong Kong, arrived in Kumasi. Light for Children has an ongoing partnership with this organization. In the past, they have built toilet facilities for schools, taught in classrooms, run Sexual Abuse Awareness workshops in schools, as well as other volunteer activities.
Summer Volunteer Activities
This year, BTP built a toilet facility for a public school in the village of Bodwease. They also did a follow-up visit to check the current state of a toilet facility that previous volunteers built at Bakoman Senior High School near Nsuta. Through this visit they were able to assess the long-term success of their organization’s work, as well as gaining a better understanding of how to proceed with their own construction project.
In early June, an American volunteer named Michelle Dennis volunteered with Light for Children as a dance instructor. During her time in Ghana, she taught ballet at several schools in the Kumasi region. Dance is a very important part of Ghanaian culture, but young people rarely have the opportunity to learn about dance styles from other cultures.
Students practising their new dance moves.
Although Light for Children did not have funding to keep the Education Center open every day in the summer, we were able to offer two days of special events in July. With the help of international volunteers, Light for Children staff provided Atonsu children with access to books, help with reading, and a chance to use the computer lab. Other activities included games, a drawing competition and an MS Paint contest.
Atonsu Education Center Library
A private donor has since provided funds to keep the Education Center library and computer lab open on a regular basis for 6 months starting in February 2018.