Surviving broken homes: The touching story of a determined teenager

Broken Home File photo: Broken home

Mon, 19 Oct 2020 Source: GNA

Zakia Abdullah is a 16-year-old second-year Junior High School (JHS) girl determined to surmount the dire consequences of a broken home.

The joy of living with and being cared for by her parents has eluded her and the little brother, Aziz Abdullah.

The supportive grandmother

Zakia and the little brother have been under the care of their grandmother since their parents broke up and had not been supportive of them. Granny, now old and weak could no longer shoulder her responsibility of caring for the two siblings as she used to.


Zakia although a fun of education, contemplated on several occasions to drop out of school to allow her to take up petty jobs to support grandmother in the family’s upkeep; a decision little Aziz often vehemently protested.

“Even though I like school, I have severally contemplated dropping out to do petty work to support the family, but each time I talk about it, my little brother will cry until I promise him that I will not stop”, she said.

“I have realized that my brother also likes school so I will not stop. I will work after school and during vacations to raise money to support our education”, said Zakia with optimism.

The egg business

Zakia, realizing her idea of dropping out of school was not going to be accepted by her little brother, hatched the idea of selling boiled egg after school hours. However, where to get that little money to start her egg business occupied her thoughts day and night.

Thankfully, the Muslim ‘Sallah’ Festival came and Zakia took advantage to go round with her friends wishing relatives happy celebration and receiving tokens from them as gifts.

Wishing people a happy ‘Sallah’ celebration is a social practice among Muslim children on the day of the merry-making. People often offer tokens to the children who come round to wish them a happy celebration.

The practice has only social relevance and no religious significance according to Alhaji Baba Daud, former SpokesPerson for the Late Upper West Region Chief Imam.

Luck was in favour of Zakia as she returned home with an amount of GH?24.00. determined to start her business, Zakia quickly mobilized and bought a crate of eggs at GH?17.00, a small size plastic bowl with a spoon at GH?1.50, a small knife at GH?1.00 and some pepper, onion and salt to kick start her egg business the second day after ‘Sallah’.

“I started selling one crate per day and I make a profit of GH?13.00 per crate. On very good days I’m able to sell two crates”, she said.

“I’m glad that I’m able to make some profit to support the family even though it’s difficult”, she noted with a sad facial expression.

Pressure from men

As a 16-year-old girl, never will Zakia go about her egg business without having unscrupulous men trying to take advantage of her.

“Yes, I do come across men who tell me they love me and always ask for my phone number, but I tell them I don’t have a phone”, she said.

“When I tell them that I don’t have a phone, some will write their numbers on a piece of paper for me asking me to get a friend’s phone to call them”, she added and noted quickly that she always threw away any number given her immediately she left the person’s presence”.

According to her, some men had promised buying her a smartphone if she agreed to be their girlfriend but was quick to add that she was not interested in using a phone now because she sees it as a negative influence.

Future ambition

Zakia, despite the threat of poverty and pressure from some unscrupulous men, is still determined to climb the education ladder to the Senior High School (SHS) level.

“I want to complete SHS successfully after which, I will seek the opportunity to join the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Unit of the Ghana Police Service. I am currently the Women’s Scout Leader under training by the Ghana Police Service in Wa”.


Despite the unrelenting determination of Zakia to succeed, without the necessary support to keep her focus on her dream, she might just succumb to the pressures of society along the way.

As the leader of the Women’s Scout, Zakia has already laid the foundation towards the realization of her dream of joining the police service, but without the necessary push that dream will remain only in her sleep and Ghana will become the loser.

The plight of Zakia and the little brother Aziz is just one case of the scores of children bearing the brunt of broken homes in the country.

The home

It is said that the home is the first school of life a child is enrolled in. However, where such homes fail to provide coaching that can help shape and keep the child upright, such a child ends up demonstrating some character flaws.

Effects of broken homes

The effects of broken homes on children’s well-being cut across education, physical/mental health, and their social development among others.

Child protection laws in Ghana

Ghana was the first country in the world to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990. The country is also a party to many other international instruments relating to child protection.

This includes; the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; the Convention against Transnational Organised Crime; and the International Labour Organisation Convention No.182 on the worst forms of child labour.

In October 2017, the President of Ghana presented the Coordinated Programme of Economic and Social Development Policies (2017-2024) to the parliament.

This includes; numerous planned interventions related to child and family welfare issues, such as preventing traditional harmful practices like early marriage and female genital mutilation, as well as strengthening the inclusion of children with disability.

The rest are; increasing access to education and educational materials for orphans, vulnerable children and children with special needs; introducing a District Integrated Social Services programme for children, families and vulnerable adults; and promoting justice for children and improving the birth registration system.

The country is also implementing the Children’s Act of 1998 (Act 560) and the Child and Family Welfare Policy. All these are expected to give full protection to all children in Ghana including; guaranteeing their right to grow up with their parents unless otherwise determined by a court of competent jurisdiction.

Child protection challenge

The child protection system in Ghana has been decentralized to make all services responsive and accessible at the local level and closer to everyone.

While the provision of services has improved in some sectors, social services in some municipalities and district assemblies, to address different child rights and gender-based violations remain unresponsive, fragmented and uncoordinated according to UNICEF.

“The link between systems such as social protection, community development, prevention of gender-based violence, justice for children, child protection, education and health at the district level is inadequate”, the child protection organisation pointed out.

Way forward

There is the urgent need for government to commit more resources to adequately resource the Department of Social Welfare and Community Development, and the Department of Children among others to effectively play their mandate to ensure adequate protection for the Ghanaian child no matter their social status.

It is equally important for parents to act more responsible in the care for their children in order not to force them into the streets and become exposed to very heartbreaking social vices, thereby, posing a threat to society’s wellbeing.


Despite the efforts and progress that Ghana and its international partners have made to assist and enable families to provide adequate care for their children, there are still thousands of kids on the streets of the country owing to several debilitating factors including broken homes.

It is therefore imperative that legislators, government, non-governmental organisations, private investors, the child welfare and protection workforces, churches, and faith-based groups work together to ensure that good child protection policies in the country become good practice to the benefit of children of all walks of life.

Columnist: GNA