It appears that the migration of children from Northern to Southern Ghana has become a very common phenomenon as almost every household is reported to have a child/youth migrant in Southern Ghana. With very limited employment opportunities in their home villages especially during the dry season, young female adolescents resort to migrating to urban centres of Accra and Kumasi. In addition to poverty, some are fleeing from early and forced marriages. They perceive urban centres as able to provide relatively higher opportunities for the enhancement of their lives. Many of these young migrants are female adolescents with little or no education or employable skills, who have to resort to working as head-porters – popularly called kayayei.
On the basis of this, 25 young female un-educated and school drop-outs whose ages ranged between 18 years and 24 years head-porters were selected after an intense baseline survey in Accra and Kumasi to undergo a three months training in vocational skills to improve their living conditions.
Considering the fact that the beneficiaries were semi-literates and illiterates, pictorial handouts were developed for them to facilitate a better and easier understanding of the various disciplines taught. The handouts are being used for other training programs and it’s been very useful especially for uneducated persons. Also, during the training, the young women produced a soybean non-alcoholic drink which is now on the market and is well patronized by both rich and poor.
The 25 beneficiaries have since returned to their various hometowns to establish their own businesses: 20 cottage industries have been established in the northern part of Ghana with the remaining 5 based in the Ashanti region. All the young women are engaged in various productions: 15 of them are producing soap with 10 out of this number also producing beadworks in addition; 10 young women involved in catering. It is expected that within a minimum of 2 years, at most 20 businesses would have grown from small to medium scale. This has improved their socio-economic life thereby paving the way for independent decisions regarding their personal lives.
Due to their bitter experiences in addition to the knowledge and skills acquired during the training, 23 young women act as peer advocates and role models in their various communities. The participants have also been empowered to resist forced marriages and other retrogressive socio-cultural practices. They have become agents of change in their communities and have been encouraged to train and support other young women in the skills they have acquired.