Our vision now, for 2018 and beyond: Always building on what we have achieved and learned to go further

Over the years, AfriKids has witnessed great change in Ghana’s Upper East Region and one of our greatest strengths is that we continuously listen and adapt to this changing environment. What began as direct support to hundreds of children, providing things like school uniforms and books, has evolved into programmes making permanent, systemic changes for the improved education, protection and health of all children.

 

We have always been committed to learning and improving; building on what we have achieved so that we can go further.

 

Where we’ve come from

In the early 2000s AfriKids was running a handful of local-led, community-specific projects and pilots.

 

 

Nich Kumah, Sister Jane and Mama Laadi were amongst the local heroes AfriKids supported in the beginning and they continue to be a big part of our work today

 

 

Following the success of these small-scale initiatives, our work picked up the pace. We increased the number of projects and started to involve more people from local communities, as well as more levels of society, including government departments, traditional chiefs and parents. Our broad child rights mission began to focus on giving children the education, protection, healthcare and voice they needed to break the cycle of poverty.

 

Our growing local team were constantly learning from the successes and challenges that confronted them. By tackling the most urgent issues, such as getting children off the streets and back into school, we have now been able to take on the more complex ones – improving the quality of the teaching in schools and ensuring children don’t find themselves back living and working on the streets. We are moving up the ladder of change, one step at a time, and building a stronger team behind us along the way.

 

 

Taking it to the next level

Following major achievements, such as ending the Spirit Child Phenomenon in several communities and getting more children into school, we are now able to take on the next levels of change.

 

Child Protection

Because we have eradicated the harmful, traditional belief of the Spirit Child Phenomenon in Sirigu village and six surrounding communities, we are scaling up this work within 33 further communities who have asked specifically for this support.

 

In the areas where we have successfully ended the harmful practice that puts children with disabilities in danger, we are demanding better support from the education and health systems for the children we have protected. In these communities, children living with disabilities were previously abandoned or neglected, but after years of changing attitudes we have seen incredible shifts. The next stage is to support the families of these children to ensure they are provided for and have equal opportunities to go to school and live a happy, healthy and safe childhood.

 

Children like Richmond, who lives with Cerebral Palsy, can now go to school with improved support for their special needs

 

 

Education

We’ve seen more and more children starting school since we started work in the area and, whilst we’ll continue to ensure this continues, we’re now looking to improve the quality of teaching they will receive. We are also looking at all the push and pull factors that might cause them to drop out, including child marriage and child labour, and addressing these so that more children stay in school to attain a Basic Education (completing the exams at the end of Junior High School).

 

Continuing to learn

Since our work began, we have learned that girls miss out on school because of inadequate washroom facilities and pressures to marry young. We learned that the earliest years of schooling are the most critical to a child’s ability to learn and progress. We learned that the children in homes without electricity fall behind because they can’t do their homework in the evenings. Every time we learn something new, a door opens for us to take down another barrier to children being safe, healthy and educated.

 

Many lessons have been learned over the years, but that doesn’t mean we know it all. We pride ourselves on continuing to improve and develop so that our impact can keep growing. From everything we have taken on board, we have now developed a new strategy for the next four years, with fresh and ambitious goals and objectives for the future.

 

We look forward to exploring these in our next blog – join us for the next chapter?

 

Our vision now, for 2018 and beyond:The principles and values that continue to sit at the heart of our work

 

Whilst AfriKids embark on a new era of even bigger change, we assure you that our principles remain unchanged. We will continue to be committed to the values that have always sat at the heart of what we do and we will continue to uphold these now and into the future. We guarantee that you can hold us to that.

 

So what are the principles and values that make AfriKids what it is?

 

We are truly local

Our team of local staff in Ghana design and run all of our life-changing programmes from start to finish. Qualified, experienced professionals, they have a deep, personal commitment to improving life for children in their communities.

 

Being known and trusted in the communities they work in is what makes them so effective, especially with some of our most complex work changing traditional beliefs. Whilst fundraising and due diligence is led from the UK, it is always with the aim of supporting local people delivering the right solutions in their own communities.

 

We listen

Our programmes are developed by listening to what local people tell us they really need. Our exceptional stakeholder consultation gives every level of society a say on what we do and gives us a clear view on what the government and other actors are doing. This ensures our projects are always truly needed, wanted and bought into by everyone it takes to make it work,

 

We empower

Our approach is always to help children, families and communities help themselves. Our projects bring people together, equip them with knowledge and show them how to make and demand the changes needed for all children to have a better life in northern Ghana.

 

We sustain

If it’s not sustainable, it’s not development. For us this means two things:

 

Addressing the root causes of issues as well as the symptoms

As well as providing direct support to children at risk now, we are also improving the education, child protection and healthcare systems of northern Ghana. To stop suffering in the first place and improve every child’s start in life.

 

Creating changes that are sustainable without ongoing aid

All of our projects create change by educating local people and empowering them to make changes themselves. This way the changes we help make with each new project become permanently embedded and continue to benefit children long after our involvement ends. While there is a lot of work to be done and making permanent changes takes time, our projects will evolve and move, and rather than create dependence on us, they enable change to be sustained.

 

This is how we are helping people secure better futures for children that ultimately don’t rely on aid.

 

We respect people and planet

We work together with communities to end harmful traditional practices and protect children, while respecting local culture, heritage and environment.

 

We are conscious to minimise the impact of our operations on the environment and employ a ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ approach.

 

We always want to do better

An ethos of learning and improving is ingrained in everything we do, from supporting training for all our staff, to continuously developing our Monitoring, Evaluations and Learning tools to measure our impact and inform our strategy. We encourage feedback from all of our stakeholders which helps us to continue learning and adapting.

 

This ethos means we are always building on what we have achieved and learned so we can go further. As we move in to a new phase of growth, we are now in a position to take on the next levels of change because of what we’ve learnt.

 

In our next blog we will explain what we have learnt and explore how this will impact our work going forward.

 

Our vision now, for 2018 and beyond

Last night we celebrated the official launch of our new strategy with friends, supporters and partners who have all shared the journey of AfriKids over the last twenty years.

 

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the evening, to mark the start of this important new era for AfriKids, as we look to the future and our plans for even bigger change. It has been with your support that we have transformed the lives of so many people in Ghana and we are excited to be continuing this life-changing work with our inspiring, local team who are driving change in their communities every day.

 

 

Over the last twenty years, your support has enabled us to transform the lives of thousands of children in northern Ghana:

 

  • we have ended child labour in the mines of Talensi Nabdam
  • we have helped children off the streets of Bolgatanga
  • we have eradicated the killing of “spirit children” in seven communities in Kassena Nankana
  • we have helped thousands of families lift themselves out of poverty and get their children into school

 

The next levels of change

Ahead of us now are a new set of opportunities. We have the knowledge and systems in place to replicate our life-saving child protection work in more communities across northern Ghana. We can build on the progress we have made to take on the next levels of change, working to now improve health and education services, and increase the number of children who can complete their education and secure their own futures, including the most marginalised.

 

We are now the most established organisation dedicated to improving child rights in northern Ghana. We have built a powerful movement of local people, who trust and support our work because our founding principle has never changed:

 

we have listened to them and empowered them to make sustainable changes themselves

 

 

‘People in northern Ghana are now standing up and demanding more: of each other and of our government, to give every child the chance to break the cycle of poverty for good. We have proved that with care and determination, the smallest seed can grow in to the tallest tree, and when our children see what we have done, they realise they can do anything too.’

Nich Kumah, AfriKids Ghana Director

 

 

 

Continuing to fundraise in the UK

We are now generating a third of the funds we need to achieve our ambitions in Ghana, but our UK registered charity provides the due diligence required by international funders to raise more, so that we can do more. This is why Amy will continue to lead the team in the UK to generate funds for our award-winning projects to 2018 and beyond.

 

So what does AfriKids’ future hold? What is our vision now, for 2018 and beyond?

As we mark the launch of our new strategy, we want to make sure you have the full picture; so you can fully understand what this decision means for AfriKids going forward. Over a series of blog chapters posted here we’ll explore:

  • the principles and values that continue to sit at the heart of our work
  • what we’ve learned and how that will impact our work in the future
  • the goals we are now working towards
  • what you, the supporters who make it all possible, can expect from us

 

We hope you will join us for the next chapter and thank you for helping to make this happen!

 

Another great night with People’s Postcode Lottery

 

Celebrating over £66 million donated to charity last year!

 

It was great to be at the 2017 People’s Postcode Lottery annual Charity Gala again this week, where it was announced that they’d awarded an amazing £66.3 million to charities and good causes last year – thanks to players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.

 

AfriKids is one of the 69 charities to benefit from this incredible funding in 2016 and on the night we were celebrating receiving our latest grant. The news of the funding total was shared at the Gala which was held at the impressive Prestonfield House in Edinburgh. The event celebrated many of the phenomenal achievements of the charities, supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery, who work both across Great Britain and internationally like AfriKids.

 

 

AfriKids CEO, Amy and Head of Grants, Ama, were honoured to attend alongside special guests Sir David Attenborough,  HRH Prince Charles, broadcaster Dermot Murnghan and TV presenter Fiona Philips.

 

With generous support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, last year  we were able to begin work tackling the pressing issue of teenage pregnancy and child marriage within the remote communities in which we work. This vital support is helping to empower teenage girls and young women to better understand their rights, know where to access information and advice on sexual health and reproduction and have more confidence on the topic. This year, support from players will help to transform the lives of more people like Gloria, by funding our work across three key areas Education, Child Protection and Healthcare.

 

Gloria’s story

Gloria, 15, is in her final year of Junior High School in the Talensi district of northern Ghana. She is a member of her local AfriKids Child Rights Club and has ambitions to become a nurse.

 

Gloria has now attended a number of talks on child marriage and preventing teenage pregnancy. She has seen many girls in her school drop out early after getting pregnant and she worries about the future of these girls who have been forced to cut their education short.

 

She described how the talks taught her that teenagers should wait until they are ready to start sexual relationships and this has inspired her to remain focused on her education, in order to set a good example to her younger siblings.

Gloria will continue to be a part of the clubs until she finishes high school and thanked AfriKids for “continuing to help young people with their education”.

 

>> Here’s a short thank you video to learn a bit more <<

 

Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “Our Gala is such a special time in People’s Postcode Lottery’s calendar where we come together and celebrate the incredible amount of money raised by our players and the fantastic work carried out by the supported charities as a result of the support. We continue to be overwhelmed by the incredible support of our players and thank them for their funding.”

 

Big thanks to the People’s Postcode Lottery teams for another brilliant night and to players for all your support!

2016 – the highlights!

As we look ahead to the new year packed with exciting plans, we reflect on the highlights of 2016 and the impact our work had last year.

 

Futures’ Freedom – a successful first year!

This year we’ve educated over 7,000 community members on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, trained 30 Public Health Nurses and 250 head teachers so they can better support adolescents and prepared 231 peer educators so they’re confident to share their knowledge back at school.

 

A year after it’s launch the Futures’ Freedom programme is going strong, achieving more than we expected in its first year supporting girls and young women and tackling the issue of teenage pregnancy and child marriage head on.

 

A need for the programme was identified through our work in education which revealed that the pressure for girls to marry and have children was acting as a major barrier to education. This is not only holding girls back, and putting their health at risk, it’s holding back entire communities. The programme is transforming the futures of young women by promoting gender equality and empowering them with knowledge on their sexual health and rights.

 

 

Tackling Early Years Education

In partnership with the Ghana Education Service and Sabre Trust we started a new programme in 2016 to improve the quality of Early Years Education in northern Ghana. This work is particularly focussed on raising literacy standards for 4 to 8 year olds and the programme will provide vital training to Kindergarten teachers in order to enhance their teaching skills.

 

We’re working with 117 schools to improve their governing systems and staff monitoring, to ensure teachers are performing at a good standard and are equipped with the training to do so. We’re encouraging the formation of reading clubs in schools as well as establishing Community Education Champions; who are individuals who promote early years education in remote and rural communities and ensure that their local schools are held accountable for providing their children with a good education.

 

We’re very excited to see the impact of this programme as it develops this year!

 

Addressing disability in northern Ghana

In the Upper East Region there are particularly high numbers of children living with disabilities including Cerebral Palsy (CP). These conditions most often result from a lack of medical care during childbirth causing complications that result in lasting damage to the baby. Many of these disabilities are then untreated and undiagnosed for years due to a lack of health information and medical facilities.

 

AfriKids is working with families supporting children with CP and other disabilities to ensure they have access to the help and resources they need; this includes the provision of nutritious food, medical care and access to schooling, as well as providing training for families to ensure they can provide the necessary physiotherapy to help their children’s condition to improve.

 

Due to the success of the work in the village of Sirigu, last year we expanded to the Bongo district, supporting a health centre to provide specialist rehabiltation for CP children and their families.

 

Supporting family businesses

Our micro-finance initiative empowered over 1,450 women last year to set-up or grow their own small businesses so they can generate an income to support their family and fund their children’s education.

 

Thank you to all those who contributed to our ‘Back a Family Business’ campaign in September which raised an incredible £100,000 to support 1,000 families! They’ll be provided with a loan and vital business skills training alongside personal guidance and advice from the team on subjects such as family planning and health. It is this accompanying support package that really sets AfriKids’ micro-finance programme apart and the team managing the project believe that the additional support and advice is what makes the initiative so successful.

 

Due to continually positive repayment results we have decided to extend the three loan cycle model and increase the loan sizes for successful groups of women whose businesses are thriving.

 

From life on the streets to a graduate medic

A true success story, Samuel is an inspiration to us all. He first came to know the AfriKids team when he was living and working on the busy streets of Bolgatanga. Whilst he dreamed of going to school, his everyday reality involved finding whatever work he could to give him any chance of survival or feeding himself.

 

Samuel was then told about the Operation Mango Tree foster home, supported by AfriKids, and he started to seek support there before permanently moving into the home in 2005 so he could start school again. With determination, he progressed through the years and finished Senior High School with impressive grades that secured him a sponsored place at a university in Ghana’s capital, Accra, to study for four years as a Physician Assistant.

 

In December, AfriKids Ghana’s Director, Nich Kumah, attended Samuel’s graduation with him to celebrate his amazing success. He’s now keen to return to Bolgatanga to secure a job at the AfriKids’ Medical Centre and we’d be proud to have him there!

 

Ending the Spirit Child Phenomenon for good

AfriKids recorded the end of the Spirit Child Phenomenon (SCP) in the village of Sirigu four years ago and since then we have expanded the work tackling this damaging cultural belief which puts children at risk. In short, the Spirit Child Phenomenon is a belief that a child born with health problems, disabilities or whose birth coincides with tragic events, is a spirit sent from the bush to cause misfortune for their family. As a result the child may be subjected to abuse, neglect or even infanticide.

 

We have been working to put an end to this harmful traditional practice for a number of years, working closely with local communities and their chiefs to ensure a lasting change is made. Following the success of this work, last year we expanded into the Bongo district and are currently working with 11 out of the 33 communities there. Looking ahead to this year we hope to start work in the remaining Bongo Communities and see an end to SCP in many more.