Population:24.4 millionLiteracy Rate:67%Religion: Roman Catholic (15.1%)
The Salesians are opening new doors for children and families in Ghana, where 45% of the population must survive on less than $1 a day. Special programs are bridging cultural differences between Christians and Muslims, and the gender inequities between boys and girls. Efforts are also underway to reduce class sizes, which are typically 100 students for every teacher.
Give Hope to Street Children
While Ghana’s economy continues to improve, nearly 45% of the population lives on less than US $1 a day, according to UNICEF. The situation is often more extreme in rural areas, resulting in migration of farmers and their families to the cities. In Suyani, many arrive from the north – one of Ghana’s poorest regions – and try to begin a new life in Zongo, a community built on a garbage dump.
Street children are among those looking to build a new life. Often, these youth are abandoned or have no family at all. Some are runaways due to conflict at home. At the Don Bosco Boys Home, youth live permanently in the shelter. In addition to receiving numerous meals, proper medical attention and a safe and comfortable place to sleep, many are realizing their dreams of attending school.
More Missions in Ghana
As more children attend primary school in Ghana, classrooms are facing massive overcrowding, according to UNICEF. In rural areas, one teacher may be expected to handle up to 100 students.
Since arriving in Ghana in 1992, Salesian Missions has grown to meet the educational needs of children and youth:
- Primary and secondary school students attend classes.
- Girls receive specialized classes to help close gender gaps in education.
- Older students from across Ghana learn job skills at the Don Bosco Vocational and Technical Institute.
- Alumni of the vocational program can obtain credit to help finance the start of their own businesses.
Salesian Missions helps makes education a reality for all children – even those in areas where no government schools are present.
In Ghana, a special sports day which brought together Muslim and Christian children to learn about each other in an open atmosphere. The Zongo holiday Camp featured sports, educational and leadership activities so that children could interact with each other and simply become friends. The Camp was named after Zongo, a community which has grown from a garbage dump. Many children in Zongo are immigrants from the countryside who come from various backgrounds of tribes and languages, as well as religions. The Camp was organized with Salesian Missions, the Imam and other community elders.
Girls in Ghana find less opportunity than boys to improve their lives through education. In many cases, girls are expected to contribute to the family’s income – which takes priority over attending classes. Through a boarding school for girls in Odumase, girls have the opportunity to continue their studies while learning job skills that will also help their family.
Youth are eager to learn job skills and open their own businesses to make a better life for themselves in Ghana. Since its first professional training center opened in 1992, Salesian Missions has expanded to meet the growing needs of youth. First, the center expanded to a wide range of skills – from carpentry to metal work to graphic arts. Then, youth from remote areas sought training. With training, youth decided to be entrepreneurs – and a credit program was developed to help finance “alumni” in beginning their own businesses. Through these programs, youth contribute to their communities – now and for generations to come.
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