The goal of Creative Minds is to improve the living conditions of visually impaired women living on the streets of Bolgatanga through use of their weaving skills and increase their capacity to care for their children.
The project began in 2005 when Operation Sirigu’s Joe Asakibeem identified the desperate need of mothers living on the streets of Bolgatanga. Many of the women came from his home village Sirigu and having started a successful micro-finance programme there he wanted to extend this help to these women. Many of them came to live on the street periodically and beg for survival. In all cases this was because of extreme poverty and in many cases they would bring their children with them so they could care for them and as tools to help them beg; twins in particular are the focus of spiritual beliefs and are commonly used as begging tools.
Through a mix of grants, loans and counselling most of the women were helped into a more sustainable living situation. In a few cases the women had mental health problems that meant they were unable to care for their children full time and so the children went to live at the Next Generation Home or Mama Laadi’s Foster Home from where they attend school and maintain regular contact with their mothers, often spending the school holidays with them. By 2007 there was still a small group the project had not been able to find a long term solution for; these were the blind women who had been trained as weavers and found they were able to make a small income by plying their wares on the street with the assistance of their children and grandchildren. For these women AfriKids rented a shop and provided them with the tools needed to weave furniture and doormats. They decided to name the shop ‘Creative Minds’ and coined the strapline ‘Disability is not Inability’. This meant the women had a safe place to work and the children were able to return to school. Supported by Didas Azanoore, the women have made a success of their business. They now attract commercial orders from local companies and are seeing their children reach senior secondary education, the first generation to do so in their families.
From 2010 onwards AfriKids began increasingly supporting the secondary and further education of the Creative Minds women's children through the AfriKids Education Fund. Over time these children will become the breadwinners themselves and help their families live in a more secure and stable way.