Home » The life of some young girls at Akwamu: A second chance to be better

The life of some young girls at Akwamu: A second chance to be better

“I became pregnant after my Junior High School (JHS) education at age 16. I gave birth and father of the child abandoned his responsibilities and that made life unbearable for me and my child. But, I promised I was not going to allow myself and give bi...

“I became pregnant after my Junior High School (JHS) education at age 16. I gave birth and father of the child abandoned his responsibilities and that made life unbearable for me and my child. But, I promised I was not going to allow myself and give birth again until I gain an employable skill or marry. And so I took advantage when I heard of Nana Afrakoma Vocational Institute, and enrolled,” says Dakoa Patience, an apprentice learning hairdressing at the Nana Afrakoma Vocational Institute at Akwamu in the Eastern Region.

She added, “Because of the skills gained, am able to offer services to people to fend for myself and the child. And I must say that gradually my life as a young mother has improved.”

Dakoa had earlier enrolled in a similar vocational training institute but failed to attach importance to it and that considers the opportunity offered by the Queen mother of Akwamuman Nana Afrakoma II, a second chance to be better.

Together with some other young female apprentices at Akwamufie in the Eastern Region, they have found hope to better their lives through education and skills training. Most of these young girls just as Dakoa became adolescent mothers at the early ages of their lives due to lack of proper parenting, poverty and lack of education and information on sexual and reproductive health.

But the initiative by Nana Afrakoma II, Queen mother of Akwamuman with support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) gave hope to these girls.

Dakoa shared that apart from the training, the education and information on adolescent pregnancy, menstrual health, family planning and Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) had empowered her to avoid pregnancy and focus on the job. “I would urge my colleague young girls to learn from my situation and stay away from sex or protect themselves from Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) by using a condom or use other planning methods to avoid adolescent pregnancy.”

Kumi Esther, another apprentice also said, due to lack of support she couldn’t further her education at the tertiary level. Be that as it may, the training has empowered her economically to live a better life. And, in addition to the education on her sexual health, family planning and SGBV, it is her hope that she would plan her life better to avoid adolescent pregnancy. “The training has helped me so much so that I can now do bridal make up, style hair among others to fend for myself.”

Stella Adjei, an adolescent mother with two children said, it is important adolescent girls pay keen attention to their reproductive health to help them manage their professional lives.

According to Stella, abiding by the education and information on sexual and reproductive health such as family planning helped her to sail through the one-year period of training at the Nana Afrakoma Vocational Institute because although she had heard of sexual, adolescent and reproductive health issues, she attached little interest to it and that led to her early births.

Stella Adjei had her first child at age 18, now with two kids, a girl and a boy, nine and seven years old respectively. She said the opportunity is a second chance to be better.

Adolescent pregnancy and early childbirth impact negatively on education and employment opportunities for young girls and other social consequences including stigmatization, reduced status in home and communities, early marriage among others.

The UNFPA reports that 20,000 girls under the age of 18 give birth every day in developing countries. Annually, this amounts to 7.3million births, excluding all adolescent pregnancies.

This shows that there are many young girls like Dakoa Patience and Stella Adjei in developing countries whose dreams may have been shattered due to lack of opportunity to rebuild themselves.

At the handing over ceremony of industrial sewing machines and mattresses to the Nana Afrakoma Vocational Institute by the UNFPA, Country Representative, Dr. David Wilfred Ochan said, “We believe that every young person’s potential must be fulfilled.”

He said, the UNFPA is focused on bettering the lives of men, women and young people but most especially young people, hence it continuous to empower these young girls with education on family planning and SGBV related issues.

The ceremony came at the back of the visit of the former first Vice President of Costa Rica, H.E Epsy Campbell and the UN Under-Secretary-General and the UNFPA Executive Director, Dr. Natalia Kanem to Ghana in May 2022 for the ‘Return Mission’.

The UNFPA with its three main objectives is to achieve zero maternal death, zero unmet need for family planning and zero sexual gender based violence (SGBV).

Speaking at the ceremony he emphasized that “This journey towards the three zeros requires the harmonization of the diverse voices of men, women, girls and boys from all over the world in a resounding chorus towards achieving equality for all.”

He mentioned that using culture and tradition is a powerful tool and urged Queen mothers to be instrumental in conveying and transferring knowledge on issues of reproductive health such as adolescent pregnancy, menstrual health and GBV to prevent early childbirth and child marriage.

He further encouraged the girls to share with their peers the knowledge acquired, to learn and prevent teenage pregnancies.

Queen mother of Akwamuman, Nana Afrakoma II, speaking at the ceremony said her dream for the establishment was based on the realization that most of these girls have potential but are vulnerable and needs support to unveil their potential.

According to her as part of their various activities, teenage pregnancies have reduced in the communities.

She added that the institute has survived on the benevolence of individuals and organizations and continues to render training to the girls for free, and urge others to support the girls.

She encouraged the trainees to focus on the training and also cautioned other young girls to avoid teenage pregnancy and live a better life.

Source: Modern Ghana