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Jade 20, gets a second chance to realise her dream through a UNFPA-Supported Programme in Ghana

For a girl born and raised in a community where most of the other girls never make it to the final level of senior secondary school, the dream of self-actualising and contributing to the development of your community and country, may be somewhat farfetched. The reasons for not completing basic and secondary education for most girls in James Town, Accra, vary from teenage pregnancy, lack of financial support, and a host of others. However, for Jade, Naa, the first is the case.

Jade is a 20-year-old girl, born and raised in James Town, Accra. Just like every child in an ideal home, Jade grew up in a loving home and completed primary school. However, being under the care of an Aunt who had done all things possible to make sure Jade gets a proper childhood, her dreams of being a business woman were cut short when in Junior High School she had to quit her studies and stay home because her family could no longer afford to pay her school fees in 2013.

Jade is a 20-year-old girl, born and raised in James Town, Accra

Jade spent three years at home, helping with household chores and supporting her Aunty to make a living for the family. The sight of seeing other children in uniforms going to school every morning, left her heart broken and thinking less of herself, until in 2016, when her Aunty found out about the Skills Centre at the Ussher Polyclinic in Accra. The Centre supported by UNFPA Ghana, provides skills training with focus on sewing, to help ensure young girls in the community, receive the support they need to become responsible adults.

The Skills Centre takes its beneficiaries (girls) through intensive sewing training, during which they are also equipped with sexual and reproductive health information and services, life and livelihood skills, among others, for a period of two years, after which they graduate from the programme and each receive a sewing machine to start up a small business for themselves.

Jade is now due to graduate this year (2018) from the Centre, having gained acute training in sewing. “When I graduate from the programme this year, I will start working using the sewing skills I have gained here, so that I can save money to pay for my tuition. I want to enroll at the Accra Polytechnic University and study business. I still have a chance to have a good job and help my family. I am closer to achieving that dream now more than ever” she said, when asked what she planned on doing upon graduation.

Just like Jade, many adolescent girls and young women in the James Town community, are more likely to drop out of school. Some of the girls who were victims of teenage pregnancy and are now enrolled in the Skills Centre, have their babies benefitting from the nutritional rehabilitation programme of the clinic. This is a measure to help prevent or address malnutrition among these children, born to mothers who can barely afford to feed themselves and their babies.

The story of Jade Naa may be the only one that was shared during our visit to UNFPA Ghana interventions sites, in Accra, Ghana. However, there are many other stories like hers and addressing the needs of such vulnerable populations – girls and women - is the reason why UNFPA is working to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. We must however note that, we can each be change makers in our communities. We can each help raise a girl, feed a baby and protect lives. All we need to do, is to listen to their stories and understand their lived realities.

Haddy Jonga