Asibi's story (Ghana)
Asibi is 15 years old and lives in the Ashanti Region, Southern Ghana. She came to the streets to join her friends. During the day, they pick used boxes from the shops and re-sell them in the market to fishmongers and other traders for a living. At night, Asibi and her friends sleep under a raised container shop.
Vulnerability and Resilience on the Street: Asibi’s Case
As with other street-connected children, Asibi deals with rejection and indifference in her daily life. She is regarded as a vagabond by most people, even those market dealers who benefit from Asibi and her friends’ box business. “She has a lot of fresh bruises on her that have not been treated. She said, I fell from the bicycle I hired on the street,” says MFCS Street Worker.
Hardly anyone shows tolerance or concern for the presence of these children on the streets. “They felt very much rejected on the street because other people see them differently thus not like they see their children”, continues the Street Worker.
As a result, Asibi grew a strong sense of independence, while relying on her street-connected peers when she needs support. “The lesser concern she might have from others on the street the higher she relied on herself on the street, but she still considers other boys and girls on the street as friends and close relation” (MFCS SW).
“The little or no concern they [other people] might have is making them content of the situation on the street thus making them feel independent and think that their decisions are the best”.
However, resilience is just the other face of vulnerability for children like Asibi who need to learn how to survive on the streets. “They look very ragged, sick and abandoned on the street. They sometimes think that they could get back home because they see the home as the perfect place for them”.
Asibi should be in primary education but dropped out of school. The feeling of being excluded or considered different might be what further refrains her and her peers to go back to school. However, Asibi knows well how important it is to get an education, as a way out of the street’s life. “They might not like to go back to school but they are very brave and determining to move ahead with any positive interventions that will change their current situations on the street.”
Bridging the gap: What Street Work means to Asibi’s life
Until the intervention of the Street Workers, Asibi did not have anyone to talk to. “Most children on the street may either have lesser or no such kind of interaction from most people on the street”. Regular street visits allowed enough time and space for Asibi to share, and possibly change her story.
“Our relationship developed at the very moment we met. They think we could have the best of interventions for them or positively change their life on the street.”
Street Workers work hard to restore in street-connected children their sense of belonging, inclusion and trust that there is someone looking out for them: “We spoke in her [same] language which makes her feel that we were in the same shoes. She was opened to share anything about herself with us on the street. We visited them to see where they live.”
The Muslim Family Counselling Services is a grassroot organisation working with street-connected children and young people in Kumasi and surroundings since 1990 to support their healthy development and active participation in the community. It has been StreetInvest’s partner since 2017, when it formally became Regional Coordinating Partner for West Africa to develop a regional network of NGOs, communities, academics and other partners, to promote and foster Street Work in the Region. MFCS ensures the delivery of our Street Work programme at local level through their own network of adult Street Workers, and through delivering StreetInvest’s Street Worker training to the organisations in their local networks. To date, MFCS local network of committed NGOs extends to Kumasi and Accra.
In 2018, MFCS led an impressive advocacy drive and worked directly with the Department of Social Welfare (DSW) to deliver training to DSW staff and the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection to develop a national plan for street-connected children.
From the beginning of 2021, MFCS’ small team of 4 Street Workers have been able to reach over 200 street-connected boys and girls, almost one-fifth of the population of street-connected children estimated to live in Kumasi area. Considering the escalation of COVID-19 emergency in Ghana, Street Workers focussed their interventions on health emergency prevention, using street visits and group sessions to raise awareness on COVID-19 risks and preventative measures, as well as distributing face masks and hand-sanitisers to the children.