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Finding opportunities for growth in a new community

There’s lots of potential for better health, education and more as CCFC begins its work in Namonsa, Ghana

By William Anim-Dankwa | CCFC communications manager, Ghana 

The Christian Children’s Fund of Canada (CCFC) team arrived in Namonsa mid-morning. We were launching a child-sponsorship program in the community of 600, and a neighbourhood tour illuminated the need for change.

Dry fields were proof of difficult times as local peasant farmers were forced to make meagre yields sustain through the year. Without alternative sources of income, parents couldn’t afford school fees, which was leading to high dropout rates and early, forced marriages. In fact, according to a 2014 report from Women in Law and Development in Africa, half of the community entered into early, forced marriages in this region — the highest incidence in the country.

That said, townspeople recognized the importance of education. Children were enrolled in school, but the community was beset with poor educational infrastructure. The sparsely furnished primary school was old and run-down with dirty floors and cracked walls; it leaked when it rained, and many students stopped attending classes during the four-month long rainy season.

Then there was the problem of water, which was collected from one borehole — a source that often evaporated during the dry season. Sanitation facilities were nearly non-existent and open defecation was common. Such poor sanitation left the townspeople susceptible to cholera, malaria and other illnesses, but it was 10 km to the nearest health facility, and transportation was limited. “The situation is so bad I thought nothing good will come to Namonsa,” said Emmanuel Apemju, head teacher of Namonsa, District Assembly primary school, last year.

But, now there’s renewed hope. Soon schools will be equipped with furniture, books and uniforms, and teachers will have access to updated training. The nearby dilapidated health facility will be renovated and equipped with tools and services. Committees will be formed to improve sanitation and hygiene, and training courses will offer youth a chance to learn vocational skills. An evolution is underway, thanks to a partnership with local organization Tuma Kavi.

At first, the children of Namonsa were uncertain. Standing at the front of their crumbling classroom a few months ago, they were probably wondering what good would come of our initial visit. Today, the mood is different. Joseph Awenbaninapo, whose son attends the local school, is looking ahead. “From the way CCFC and Tuma Kavi have conducted themselves in the last few months, I am now confident they will help change this community,” he says.