SOS Children’s Village Tema, Ghana

Ghana, a small country bordering Togo, Cote d’Ivoire and the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa, has a population of 21 million. Rich in natural resources, Ghana is wealthier than its neighbours. However, the country is heavily in debt to foreign countries and banks, which means that very little money is spent on health and education, especially outside of the capital Accra. Northern Ghana is particularly poor, with many people living in rural areas in extreme poverty, and children, especially girls, cannot afford to go to school. Unlike some of its neighbours, Ghana is a free and fair democracy, and its current president, John Kufour, came to office in January 2001.

SOS Children’s Village Tema was the first Children’s Village to be built in Ghana, West Africa. Many children were being abandoned by their families because of certain traditional beliefs and poverty, and these children now needed a loving home. SOS Children’s Village Tema opened in June 1974, when the first children moved into their brand new home.
There are fifteen family homes at the Children’s Village, with 10 children in each house. There are also youth homes at the village where the older children live, along with a sports field, a village shop, and a big playground, which the younger children really love! The houses are built in the traditional round-hut style, and have been painted in bright colours! It is a really beautiful place for children to grow up.

On land next to the Children’s Village, SOS Children set up a poultry farm and an agricultural project so the
village can grow its own vegetables. The older children
help tend the crops and chickens, which means they learn how to grow food and take care of animals. This is a very sustainable project which has encouraged self-sufficiency.

Like any teenagers, our older children want independence. Youth homes have been built for children over 16 where they can live together (boys and girls have separate houses). If they need, there is a youth leader who can help them with their work, and they can always turn to their SOS mothers when they need someone to talk to. The teenagers love having this independence and to know that they are trusted to care for themselves. It gives them a huge sense ofself-esteem.

180 children from the Village and the local community attend the SOS Nursery School in Tema. There are six classrooms at the school, along with another for children with special needs. There is also a gym and a playground, which the children play in every break-time! This school provides them with a quality pre-school education, and means that the youngsters can make friends from an early age.

There is also an SOS Primary and Secondary School in the town. Over 720 children are given a good education which will mean they can have a future when they are older. SOS Children believes in equality of opportunity; the poorer students from the community, whose parents cannot afford the school fees, books, school uniform and school shoes, are provided with a scholarship to make sure they can attend. There are twelve classrooms at the school, along with a library, a music room, a sports ground, a workshop where the older children learn practical lessons, and a multi-purpose hall. The children are doing well in their studies generally, and they are very
keen on sports!

When the children graduate from secondary school, they need more skills to help them find a job. The SOS Vocational Training Centre offers teenagers just these skills. We take care to select training courses that give the students the skills needed by the local labour market. The training courses at this Vocational Training Centre are tailor-made for Ghana. The courses offered include: office and business training, IT, dressmaking, home economics and secretarial skills. 200 students every year benefit from this centre. One single mother called Martha* studied dressmaking at the centre, and says of the course:

“I am very grateful for all SOS Children has done for me. They paid my training in sewing during three years… Today I realize that this organisation made a great woman of me. I am very satisfied of what I learnt and what I am doing at the moment. I earn validly my life through sewing and I can take care of my children", she said.

Over three per cent, or 350,000 people in Ghana are HIV positive. Due to poor health care services in Ghana, many of these people receive no support or medicine when they are ill. The SOS Social Centre in Tema offers 100 poor AIDS-affected families with food, medicine and school scholarships, and financial help and training to help them set up a small business. The psychological impact of HIV/AIDS is devastating for the sufferer and their family, and SOS Children is helping to relieve this trauma. The Social Centre also runs HIV awareness campaigns and education classes to families in Tema and the surrounding villages.

Along with this Social Centre for AIDS sufferers, 1500 patients a year are cared for at the SOS Medical Centre. Consultation rooms, a ward and a pharmacy help to keep local people and the children from the Children’s Village healthy.

In 1990, an International College was set up in Tema, which offers talented youths from all over Africa the chance to gain international GCSE’s (IGCSE’s) and the International Baccalaureate (IB) qualification, which is the international equivalent of A-levels. With the IB qualification, students have the opportunity to study at any university around the world. SOS Children recognizes talent, and provides academic pupils with all the support and encouragement they need to help them excel.