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FAQs

We hope you find the answer to your question, but if you can't find what you're looking for here please do get in touch with the team at info@afrikids.org

Making a donation

How can I donate from the US?

Our sister organisation Friends of AfriKids USA is an independent organisation registered in the USA with 501(c)3 status and is eligible to receive tax deductable charitable contributions within the limits prescribed by law.  The organisation champions AfriKids work and provides a tax efficient way for US residents to support AfriKids.

For any queries relating to Friends of AfriKids USA, please contact the team: info@afrikids.org | (0044) 0207 269 0740

Please make a donation via Bank Transfer using the following details:
Bank of America
Friends of AfriKids Inc.
Account No.: 4460 3245 8491
ACH Routing No.: 052001633

To register your interest in supporting Friends of AfriKids USA or if you have any questions, please contact the team at info@afrikids.org

How can I make a donation via Bank Transfer?

To make the most cost effective donation for both UK based and international donors, pay via Bank Transfer using AfriKids' Bank Account details.

If you are a UK tax payer please fill out a Gift Aid form here to allow us to claim an extra 25p for every £1 you donate. That means your £10 donation will become £12.50 to us!

From the UK:
Account Name: AfriKids Ltd.
Account Address: Lloyds Bank, 106 Kilburn High Road, London NW6 4HY
Sort Code: 77-91-13
Account Number: 27029468

From outside of the UK:

Donating from the US? Please see the FAQ above.

Sort Code: 77-91-13
Account Number: 27029468
IBAN: GB10 LOYD 7791 1327 0294 68
BIC: LOYDGB21J15
If you have any issues please contact the team at  info@afrikids.org  | (+44) 0207 269 0740

How can I donate goods to AfriKids?

We often receive generous offers of donations of goods for AfriKids and the children we serve - clothes, toys, etc. While we hugely appreciate the gesture and intention in this, we do not accept donations of goods for the following reasons:
 
Special treatment singles children out
Providing the children we support with special gifts or even clothes that aren't available locally can single them out, identifying them as recipients of charitable support which can result in further marginalisation
 

Supplying goods for free is bad for local business
Most clothes and toys bought and sold in northern Ghana are at markets and second-hand. These are small businesses providing livelihoods for local people and when goods are donated for free, it takes their custom away

Items children need are available locally
Clothes, toys and goods that children need to be happy, healthy, safe and in school are available in northern Ghana. The Bolgatanga market is a thriving hub of local businesses and traders who supple everything, from toothbrushes to trainers and food to footballs. Our programme budgets include everything the children we support need.

Getting goods to Ghana is expensive and difficult
Shipping goods to Ghana and then transporting them from ports on the southern coast to Bolgatanga 800km north takes a long and often unpredictable amount of time. This adds a huge cost to donated items, making them much more expensive than goods available locally. Ghanaian law now requires that even donated goods incur customs duties, in an attempt to manage the threat to local markets outlined above.

AfriKids' programmes budgets are meticulously planned and any essential items for beneficiaries considered. When clothes and toys are needed, we source them locally to support local sellers and keep costs down.

The best way to support AfriKids is to donate and our fundraising promise ensures all funds will be spent in the best interests of our beneficiaries. There are lots of ways to fundraise for us, or if you are not looking to make a monetary donation but would like to support us, you might be interested in volunteering or providing pro bono support. For more information please get in touch with the team: info@afrikids.org | (0044) 0207 269 0740

How can I set up Payroll Giving?

Payroll Giving is the most tax-efficient way to make a regular donation to AfriKids.

The easiest way to get started is to check with your payroll department whether your employer is registered for Payroll Giving and how to enrol. If your company is not registered for payroll giving, why not suggest it? Its quick, easy and free to set up.

HMRC maintain a public list of approved Payroll Giving Agencies. The current list can be found here.

Two of the most commonly used agencies are Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) and Charities Trust. AfriKids as an employer is registered with Charities Trust to provide a Payroll Giving scheme to its staff. 

More information about Payroll Giving:
Registering for Payroll Giving means you can donate to any UK registered charity directly from your gross pay before tax and your chosen charity/ies receive up to 50% more, so if you donate £5, it could be worth up to £10. It’s quick and easy to set up and your support provides a reliable income stream to charities like AfriKids.

Payroll Giving is the only way a higher (40% - 50%) rate taxpayer in the UK can donate their full tax on a donation (unlike Gift Aid, which charities can only claim a standard rate of 25% back on).

Payroll Giving is one of the most cost-effective ways for AfriKids to receive donations, avoiding some of the processing fees of traditional donation payment providers. And regular donations are hugely valuable, helping to stabilise our cash flow, reduce resources spent on fundraising and better plan what we have the resources to do in Ghana.

Payroll Giving is a great way for employers to promote their brand ethics and social responsibility to their staff at no cost to them. Thousands of companies have registered on the scheme for free and it has proved to be a hugely popular employee benefit.

Visiting Ghana

Can I visit AfriKids’ work in Ghana?

AfriKids has been hosting its supporters and partners in rural northern Ghana for over a decade now. We design unique, once-in-a-lifetime itineraries which immerse guests in our work and the rich culture and heritage on offer. Renowned as one of the friendliest countries in the world, you are guaranteed a warm welcome in Ghana.

If you are interested in a trip please get in touch with Katie Arnold - katiearnold@afrikids.org

Development

What is international development?

International Development can mean many things; it is an academic subject, a global industry and a catch all phrase for all forms of social and economic progress. For some it is a phrase which conjures up ideas of global solidarity between humanity, for others it raises the spectre of neo-colonialism or exploitation and corruption of a flawed aid system.

 At AfriKids we see international development as the movement towards a more stable and prosperous world in which people are able to meet their basic needs and progress towards a brighter future. This process is made possible by systemic improvements to the economic, environmental and social ecosystems in poor parts of the world and the creation of a sense of ‘progress’ as it is defined by local populations.
 
AfriKids is in the business of delivering international development work through the creation of social enterprises and development programmes.  We have respect for International Development theory as well as Development Economics and the vast body of knowledge that has been created in international institutions since ‘International Development’ became a conscious field of study in the middle of the 20th century.
 
Our programme plans and strategic development are tested against theoretical constructs and academic research methods; both quantitative and qualitative, feed into our Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning processes. However, AfriKids was founded partly out of frustration with flaws in the mainstream aid industry and our guiding force was and always will be local knowledge and ideas based on first-hand experience.  

What are child rights?

On 20th November 1989, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a landmark human rights treaty which recognised and pledged to protect the rights of children globally for the first time. The treaty was developed by governments worldwide and took more than a decade to complete. It was called the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (often abbreviated to the UNCRC or CRC) and became the fastest and most widely ratified treaty in international human rights history*.

 
The UNCRC consists of 54 articles split into two sections. The first dictates the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights that every child, everywhere is unconditionally entitled to. The second section prescribes how societies and governments must work together to ensure all children are afforded their rights. The UNCRC should be seen as a whole, all children are entitled to all of the rights it contains, and each right is linked to the others and equal in value and importance.
 
The UNCRC is a legally binding agreement under international law. Only three countries in the world have not ratified the agreement (Somalia, South Sudan and the United States of America) and the first country in the world to ratify the treaty was Ghana.
 
As the first country in the world to formally pledge its commitment to child rights, Ghana subsequently developed a collection of national policies and legislative frameworks to support their implementation of the UNCRC. As a developing country with limited resources, however, conflicts between the requirements of the legislation and its practical delivery have proved challenging, with barriers including changes in traditional values and practices, the quality of personnel training, resources for service delivery, stakeholder collaboration, and community knowledge of the legislation.
 
The UNCRC is the only international human rights treaty which assigns NGOs (non-governmental organisations) a direct role and responsibility in overseeing its implementation, under Article 45a. AfriKids is a key player in the protection and promotion of child rights in northern Ghana, working with stakeholders at all levels from families to communities to the Government of Ghana to address barriers and challenges to the UNCRC pledge with locally-led, sustainable solutions.
 
The UNCRC was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989, though the document didn't become available for signature until 26th January 1990. When a State Party signs a treaty, it indicates approval "in principle," but there is no commitment to incorporate the provisions into its own national laws. That is achieved by ratification or an equivalent procedure. Within one year of the UNCRC becoming available for signature it had been ratified by 67 member states, and 105 within two years.

Click here to view the full text on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

The Spirit Child Phenomenon

What is the spirit child phenomenon?

The spirit child phenomenon is a belief that deformed or ailing children, births concurrent with tragic events, or children displaying unusual abilities, are spirits sent from the bush to cause misfortune and destroy the family. From the perspective of a Nankani community in Northern Ghana, spirit children are not human, but are bush spirits masquerading as such.  In some cases, family members give suspected spirit children a poisonous concoction to confirm their spiritual status and return them to the bush. We can interpret the spirit child practice as infanticide, however, it is essential to note that not all spirit child cases involve death-causing activities. In some circumstances, families identify children that have died of a medical condition as a spirit child in an effort to better understand and explain the child’s origin, destiny, and brief residence in this world.
 
When considering the spirit child phenomenon it is important to understand it from two intersecting perspectives. As a form of discourse—namely, the talk, myth, or rumours that circulate throughout a community—and as a practice that is connected, for example, to the community’s beliefs about normality and abnormality and their broader contextual circumstances such as poverty and access to health resources. When seen as a discourse, the spirit child is a powerful way to talk about correct or moral behaviours, understand misfortune, make ambiguous circumstances meaningful, or to tell an entertaining story. As a practice, the spirit child enables families to make difficult decisions regarding vulnerable children that are often not likely to survive

How does it happen?

When a family member suspects that an infant or child is a spirit, usually occurring after a series of illnesses, death, or misfortunes within the family, the head of the household will visit several “soothsayers” or diviners to consult with his ancestors to determine the origins of the misfortune and status of the child. People commonly assume that the diviner “tells” or confirms if the child is a spirit. In practice, the process involves the consulter interpreting and generating his own explanation in reference to a set of symbolic objects and input from his ancestors, rather than the diviner making official proclamations regarding the status of the child. In addition to the multiple divination sessions, families also consider other evidence such as behavioural observations and minor tests. Upon making their decision, the family will find a concoction man, the ritual practitioner that specializes in conducting the ceremony, to send the spirit child back to the bush. The concoction man will prepare the concoction according to his family’s traditions; they often mix the concoction with a poisonous root, but in some cases a non-harmful substance or symbolically treated water is used. An elder woman in the child’s family usually administers the concoction or, less often, the concoction man himself. After the child dies, the concoction man wraps it in an old sleeping mat, disposes of the body in the bush, and conducts a ceremony to ensure that it does not return to torment the family.

Where else does this occur?

Practices similar to the spirit child are found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, each taking a unique form depending on the culture and circumstances of the community. Comparable practices include witch babies in Benin, snake children in Mali and the Ivory Coast, spirit children in Guinea-Bissau, and mingi children in Tanzania. Across these regions, community members identify similar causes such as the presence of a deformity or the belief that someone in the family breached a taboo.
 
Infanticide has occurred within every society at some point in their history. Each society will understand children identified as abnormal within their own cultural system. For example, the belief in changelings, disturbing creatures exchanged in place of one’s child, were common in European folklore. Many changelings had disabilities and were often mistreated or killed after being identified.
 
Today, it is common to see practices like the spirit child in places where there is considerable poverty, inequality, a lack of medical resources, and where segments of the population are particularly vulnerable.

Why does this occur?

The causes and circumstances surrounding infanticide are diverse. Many infanticide theories fit within evolutionary and ecological models, wherein children that have a low likelihood of survival - due to illness, abnormality, or lack of resources - are at risk of infanticide. Globally, we see reasons such as gender preferences, birth spacing, or a lack of family or social support as possible contributing causes.
 
Nankani families in Northern Ghana ultimately fear that the spirit child will kill other family members and destroy the house. When understood from the local context we can better appreciate this concern. While the child itself does not actively seek to kill family members, the birth of an abnormal child that is unable to contribute to the family, consumes excessive resources, prevents a mother from having another child, and occupies the mother with caretaking tasks that keep her from other economic activities; placing the entire family and its continuity at risk. In subsistence settings with significant economic and food insecurity and limited forms of “insurance,” the belief that the spirit child will sicken or cause the death of other family members is not farfetched, particularly if the family used its small margin of security and misfortune strikes.
 
The causes of the spirit child are complex and it is rare that any single determinant alone is the ultimate cause. We can identify a selection of frequently intersecting determinants that increase a child’s vulnerability: 1) chronic illness; 2) physical or cognitive disabilities; 3) death within the family, particularly the child’s mother and/or father; 4) a series of misfortunes such as the death of livestock, crop failure, or epidemic illness; 5) limited access to maternal and infant health resources and education; 6) a lack of services and resources available to help families of children with special needs; 7) food insecurity; 8) limited access to essential healthcare services; 9) gender roles and decision-making limitations; and, 10) conflict within families.

How do families feel about spirit children?

In general, families consider having a spirit child to be one of the greatest misfortunes. The loss of a child can be emotionally devastating. Families also fear spirit children for the misfortunes they might bring into the family. 
 
Nankani children are loved and desired, but to have a child identified as non-human and the cause of misfortune—much like a scapegoat—is met with a range of sentiments.  First, some family members will refuse to accept the diagnosis and will actively resist any attempt to test the child. In some cases, mothers will take the child and flee their families hoping that the suspicion and misfortune will pass. Sometimes family members will forcefully take the child from its parents and administer the concoction, emphasizing a priority on the continuity of the larger family over individual needs. Despite their desire to care for the child at any cost, many parents confirmed that the decision was ultimately not theirs, but in the hands of the larger family.
 
Second, a number of families remark that there is little that they can do besides follow the practices of their ancestors. Such families agonize over sending the child to the bush, often trying every available treatment to rule out treatable medical problems. They ultimately come to see infanticide as unavoidable because the child is unlikely to improve and could continue to cause difficulties.
 
Finally, some families are quite fearful of spirit children, often due to previous experiences or knowledge of frightening stories. To reduce risk, such families decide that sending the spirit back is the best and only option. 
 
On a positive note, community members indicate that over the past decade the numbers of spirit children have decreased alongside improvements in health care availability, education, and poverty reduction. As families come to better understand the causes and available options for spirit children and gain improved access to resources to address their life circumstances, they become less fearful of spirit children and more empowered to confront spirit child suspicions and, in the cases of ailing, disabled, or orphaned children, manage the increased caretaking burden.

© 2017 AfriKids. All Rights Reserved

AfriKids UK Head Office:
21 Southampton Row
London
WC1B 5HA
United Kingdom

+44 (0) 207 269 0740

AfriKids Ghana Head Office:
PO Box 166
Bolgatanga
Upper East Region
Ghana

+233 (0) 3820 23829

UK Reg. Charity no: 1141028 Ghana Reg. Charity no: DSW/3024
Registered in The Netherlands. Tax no: 8238.13.289