From a young age Simon’s family life was very difficult. He had been left in the care of his father who struggled with addiction, and with little hope of going to school or having enough to eat Simon took to the streets of the nearby city, Bolgatanga, northern Ghana, in an effort to make a life for himself and survive.
Life on the streets
Simon headed to the Bolgatanga lorry park, a local transit hub, where many street children attempt to earn a living, loading and unloading lorries for small “chop money” for food. On the day he arrived he was welcomed by a boy who helped him find a small space in front of a shop to sleep for the night and shared his food with Simon.
Simon lived and worked at the lorry park for six months however this lifestyle provides little hope for a child’s future with no education and few opportunities to break out of the cycle of poverty. A team of AfriKids outreach workers who were visiting the lorry park drew Simon’s attention to The School of Night Rabbits project and he immediately saw his opportunity to make a change.
The School of Night Rabbits
The project provides street children like Simon with the chance to attend evening classes in basic literacy and numeracy so they can return to formal school. The classes are a key stepping stone for these children and an opportunity to continue their education, whilst being provided with nutritious meals, somewhere to wash and access to free quality healthcare.
Simon worked hard at the School of Night Rabbits turning up whenever he could and always impressing the teachers with his commitment and effort. He was clearly passionate about his education and was therefore awarded sponsorship to return to formal school and continue his learning.
This vital support gave Simon the opportunity to make something of his hardworking attitude and after completing school he went on to become the apprentice to a motor mechanic, building key trade skills which he can use in the future to provide for himself and a family.
According to the UN there are around 150 million children across the globe living or working on the streets today.
AfriKids is working to support those, like Simon, that find themselves on the streets of Bolgatanga and its surrounding area. Many forced to live and work in unsafe conditions because their families live in extreme poverty and find it hard to properly provide for them.
Life on the streets is a childhood that no one would wish for their child – sleeping rough in unsafe areas, begging for money or partaking in dangerous activities to earn enough to feed themselves. The street children AfriKids supports rarely have access to an education or healthcare meaning they have little hope for the future.
This week, as millions of people speak out about the rights of street children, AfriKids will be working to help children in the Bolgatanga area to get off the streets. We offer them a safe place to sleep at the Next Generation Home, help them back into education through the School of Night Rabbits, give them access to healthcare at the AfriKids Medical Centre and resettle them with family members where possible to ensure that they’re off the streets for good.
AfriKids is supporting children like Simon to help them to leave their lives on the streets and have the opportunity to build a future.
To read more about the School of Night Rabbits have a look on our website here: http://www.afrikids.org/sonr