24
MenuWallOpinions
Articles

Street Children in Ghana: Do they know its Christmas at All?

Thu, 14 Dec 2006 Source: Jeffrey, Peter Nee

In this writer’s hometown of Sekondi-Takoradi, in the Western Region of Ghana is where 12 year old Abeku live. He was orphaned at the age of 6. He has only one wish this Christmas, to go to school. Like most boys in the Sekondi-Takoradi metropolis, Abeku wants to join the navy so that he can help guard the coastline of his motherland. At that tender age of 12, Abeku cares more about his motherland than himself.
Abeku’s mother died of HIV/AIDS. She was among the group of returnees who were expelled back to Ghana in the 1980s during the economic crisis. Coming from a poor family Abeku stopped attending school when he was in Primary Class 5. His foster mother (biological aunt) could no longer afford to send him to school. At a young age of 10 Abeku had no choice but to find a living to help his siblings, including children of his foster mother.
The story of Abeku mirrors that of Issa, also 12years old, but lives in Tamale in the Northern Region of Ghana. Issa lost his parents to HIV/AIDS when he was 6 years old. His paternal grandmother fostered him together with his 3 siblings. Like his compatriot Abeku who lives at the other end of the country, Issa also believes in Santa Claus. Like Abeku, Issa has one simple wish this Christmas; to go to school. Issa wants to become a doctor so that he can care for his grandmother and other mothers in his hometown of Tamale for “free”. Like his compatriot Abeku, Issa is thinking more about the welfare of the people in his motherland than his own precarious welfare.
At age 12, Issa and Abeku looks smallish, more like 7 year olds. As the urban elite and others go to their hometowns to celebrate the Christmas festivities with their families, young Issa in Tamale and Abeku in Sekondi-Takoradi would be on the streets hawking. The number of orphaned children, often describe in the literature as “street children”, children whose parents have died of HIV/AIDS have doubled and is now turning into a crisis. In the major metropolis these children often can be found sleeping in shop fronts at night, with no home and no hope. This Christmas, these children will be on streets, either hawking or begging for money and/or food. Every Ghanaian must feel outraged and angry for the suffering of these children. They ended on the streets through no fault of theirs. There are no strategies in place to absorb these children. Social services are under funded, overstressed and overwhelmed by the increasing number of children like Abekus and Issas that they have to care for. This Christmas most mothers, aunties and grandparents who already live in poor households will find it extremely difficult to care for these children.
According to UNICEF’s report “Africa’s Orphaned Generation” even without HIV/AIDS the percentage of children who are orphans would be significantly higher in sub-Saharan Africa than other regions of the world. During the 1980s with the exception of a handful of countries, most economies in sub-Saharan Africa collapse. The period, known as Africa’s “Lost Decade” also saw the rise of HIV/AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa. The spread of the disease was higher in East and South Africa than West Africa, however the impact was felt right across black Africa.
In Ghana, this period was compounded by the structural adjustment with the introduction of user fees in education and health. Ghana suffered most. She lost nearly all her skill professionals. This was the period that the problem of young homeless children in Ghana came to the fore. Nkosi Johnson of South Africa who died of mother-to-child transmitted HIV/AIDS highlighted the plight of orphaned young Africans and exposed the incompetence of governments in tackling the epidemic. The PNDC/NDC government did not pay much attention to this group in Ghana. That was when this crisis in Ghana got out of hand. There was no concerted poverty prevention policies put in place to deal with the crisis.
The UNICEF report shows that many of the severely affected countries in sub-Saharan Africa have no national policies to address the needs of children, including children orphaned and made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS. If the government fails to respond to the “street children” crisis will have grave implications for the country.
Already the poor in sub-Saharan Africa are the poorest of the poor and their number keep growing. In Ghana, many boys and girls drop out of school because of poverty. In a related article this writer directly appealed to the general secretaries of New Patriotic Party and National Democratic Congress to remind their delegates at their December presidential congress of the dire economic crisis facing the country. Aids made up over 40% of Ghana’s GDP. Remittances from Ghanaians in Diaspora are now the 3rd largest foreign exchange earner for the country. Yet Ghana wants to become a middle income country by the year 2020, often refer to as VISION 2020. Some think the country can achieve this status by 2015. Without policies to deal with poverty, illiteracy, primary health care, physical infrastructure such as good road and rail road and putting policies in place help local manufacturers then that dream would become an illusion.
The candidates who present their manifestoes to the delegates must be questioned as to how they intend to address the issue of poverty. Due to the sensitivity of the crisis, this writer intend to write to the two victorious candidates early next year and to meet them soon afterwards to get them to pledge their unflinching support to help the orphans “street children”.



Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

In this writer’s hometown of Sekondi-Takoradi, in the Western Region of Ghana is where 12 year old Abeku live. He was orphaned at the age of 6. He has only one wish this Christmas, to go to school. Like most boys in the Sekondi-Takoradi metropolis, Abeku wants to join the navy so that he can help guard the coastline of his motherland. At that tender age of 12, Abeku cares more about his motherland than himself.
Abeku’s mother died of HIV/AIDS. She was among the group of returnees who were expelled back to Ghana in the 1980s during the economic crisis. Coming from a poor family Abeku stopped attending school when he was in Primary Class 5. His foster mother (biological aunt) could no longer afford to send him to school. At a young age of 10 Abeku had no choice but to find a living to help his siblings, including children of his foster mother.
The story of Abeku mirrors that of Issa, also 12years old, but lives in Tamale in the Northern Region of Ghana. Issa lost his parents to HIV/AIDS when he was 6 years old. His paternal grandmother fostered him together with his 3 siblings. Like his compatriot Abeku who lives at the other end of the country, Issa also believes in Santa Claus. Like Abeku, Issa has one simple wish this Christmas; to go to school. Issa wants to become a doctor so that he can care for his grandmother and other mothers in his hometown of Tamale for “free”. Like his compatriot Abeku, Issa is thinking more about the welfare of the people in his motherland than his own precarious welfare.
At age 12, Issa and Abeku looks smallish, more like 7 year olds. As the urban elite and others go to their hometowns to celebrate the Christmas festivities with their families, young Issa in Tamale and Abeku in Sekondi-Takoradi would be on the streets hawking. The number of orphaned children, often describe in the literature as “street children”, children whose parents have died of HIV/AIDS have doubled and is now turning into a crisis. In the major metropolis these children often can be found sleeping in shop fronts at night, with no home and no hope. This Christmas, these children will be on streets, either hawking or begging for money and/or food. Every Ghanaian must feel outraged and angry for the suffering of these children. They ended on the streets through no fault of theirs. There are no strategies in place to absorb these children. Social services are under funded, overstressed and overwhelmed by the increasing number of children like Abekus and Issas that they have to care for. This Christmas most mothers, aunties and grandparents who already live in poor households will find it extremely difficult to care for these children.
According to UNICEF’s report “Africa’s Orphaned Generation” even without HIV/AIDS the percentage of children who are orphans would be significantly higher in sub-Saharan Africa than other regions of the world. During the 1980s with the exception of a handful of countries, most economies in sub-Saharan Africa collapse. The period, known as Africa’s “Lost Decade” also saw the rise of HIV/AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa. The spread of the disease was higher in East and South Africa than West Africa, however the impact was felt right across black Africa.
In Ghana, this period was compounded by the structural adjustment with the introduction of user fees in education and health. Ghana suffered most. She lost nearly all her skill professionals. This was the period that the problem of young homeless children in Ghana came to the fore. Nkosi Johnson of South Africa who died of mother-to-child transmitted HIV/AIDS highlighted the plight of orphaned young Africans and exposed the incompetence of governments in tackling the epidemic. The PNDC/NDC government did not pay much attention to this group in Ghana. That was when this crisis in Ghana got out of hand. There was no concerted poverty prevention policies put in place to deal with the crisis.
The UNICEF report shows that many of the severely affected countries in sub-Saharan Africa have no national policies to address the needs of children, including children orphaned and made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS. If the government fails to respond to the “street children” crisis will have grave implications for the country.
Already the poor in sub-Saharan Africa are the poorest of the poor and their number keep growing. In Ghana, many boys and girls drop out of school because of poverty. In a related article this writer directly appealed to the general secretaries of New Patriotic Party and National Democratic Congress to remind their delegates at their December presidential congress of the dire economic crisis facing the country. Aids made up over 40% of Ghana’s GDP. Remittances from Ghanaians in Diaspora are now the 3rd largest foreign exchange earner for the country. Yet Ghana wants to become a middle income country by the year 2020, often refer to as VISION 2020. Some think the country can achieve this status by 2015. Without policies to deal with poverty, illiteracy, primary health care, physical infrastructure such as good road and rail road and putting policies in place help local manufacturers then that dream would become an illusion.
The candidates who present their manifestoes to the delegates must be questioned as to how they intend to address the issue of poverty. Due to the sensitivity of the crisis, this writer intend to write to the two victorious candidates early next year and to meet them soon afterwards to get them to pledge their unflinching support to help the orphans “street children”.



Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Jeffrey, Peter Nee

Send your news stories to and features to . Chat with us via WhatsApp on +233 55 2699 625.