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Learning to speak up in rural Ghana

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Learning to speak up in rural GhanaLearning to speak up in rural Ghana

Girls growing up in rural Ghana often lack the self-confidence of their peers in urban areas, which can put them at a disadvantage in later life. Gender activists are trying to help.

As dozens of schoolchildren at the Kumbungu District Assembly Junior High School in Ghana's Northern Region gather for morning assembly, 14-year-old Kadijah Alhassan stands out in front ready to address the crowd.

Morning assembly is held in all Ghanaian lower level schools. Students pledge out loud to be obedient and patriotic.

"I promise on my honor to be faithful and loyal to Ghana, my motherland," they declare in unison.

As the moment for her to speak to the school approaches, Kadijah knows she has the necessary self-confidence.

She used to be rather more diffident, until she attended a mentorship club.

“It helped me to speak in public because when I was not part of this club, I was not able to speak in public. And in class I didn't know how to answer questions but now, I can do that,” she told DW.

Kadijah Alhassan wants to go into journalismOne generation helping another

The mentorship club was the brainchild of Hikmat Baba Dua, 24, a graduate from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. She had noticed that girls from rural backgrounds in Ghana tend to lack in self-esteem, be timid and shy and have difficulty with public speaking. As well as helping the girls develop interpersonal skills, the club also offers them assistance in choosing a career.

Dua runs an organization called the League of Young Female Leaders and says most girls need help. "This help can only come from a generational mentorship where we have graduates of tertiary institutions linking them up with our sisters in junior schools," she said.

Hafsat Sumani blames stereotypes for the reluctance of Ghanaian rural women to assert themselves Kadijah wants to work in journalism. She says this because "in Ghana there are more confusions about the political parties and I want to be part of those who are educating them.”

Ghanaian gender activist Hafsatu Sumani believes rural women's low self-confidence is linked to cultural stereotypes.

“It is only in urban areas where you will find young girls talking in public or even in the midst of men discussing, but if you go to the villages, you will find meetings where you don't have young girls or even women participating. It is just because they feel that women do not have that knowledge to participate,” she told DW.

Sumani says a timid girl becomes a timid woman when she grows up, and this keeps many women from realizing their potential.

Date 17.11.2014

Author Maxwell Suuk / mc

Source: Deutsche Welle

Former criminal with more than 50 convictions gets degree - in CRIMINOLOGY

sentencing

Photo ReportingFormer criminal with more than 50 convictions gets degree - in CRIMINOLOGY

Natalie Atkinson has turned her life around with a first class degree in Policing, Investigation and Criminology.

A 25-year-old woman with more than 50 convictions has turned her life around to graduate from university with a first class degree in criminology with honours.

Natalie Atkinson put her troubled past behind her to be awarded top marks in her Policing, Investigation and Criminology degree.

Despite leaving school when she was just 14-years-old she scored 95 per cent in her dissertation.

The clever alumna will go on to do a Master’s degree in Criminology after being accepted at the London School of Economics (LSE).

She was crowned the National Union of Students (NUS) Endsleigh Student of the Year during a ceremony at Bolton’s Macron Football Stadium.

Natalie who studied at the University of Cumbria said: “It’s amazing and to be honest I am still in shock.

“I have gone from being a prolific offender living a chaotic lifestyle to living a settled and happy life, so if I can do it then anyone can.

“Looking back, if someone had said to me a few years ago that in 2014 I’d be graduating with a first class honours degree, moving to London to commence a Master’s degree and looking forward to a successful career, I would have laughed.

“But this is my life.

“If you set your mind to it anything is achievable, but it is up to you to make the changes that need to be made.

“All you need to do is take little steps to begin with and you will see things changing. Everyone will have a different path to desistance, you just need to find yours.”

Proud Natalie, from Lancaster, is now an activist for troubled teens and recently presented BBC3 documentary Banged Up and Left to Fail.

The show highlights the plight of of youngsters going through the criminal justice system and their lack of prospects.

In the hour-long programme she meets jailed young offenders while also liaising with MP Jeremy Wright, Minister for Prisons.

She told the cameras how she had more than 50 criminal convictions and claimed to have committed more than 100 offences, including battery, damage, theft and assaulting a police officer.

“Throughout my teenage years I was a persistent offender, constantly in and out of police cells and once I turned 18 prison,” she said.

“Prison made me worse. I wanted rehabilitating, not a chance - I was just punished, I was contained ,I was held...then let out.”

“At 13, I used to want to go back to secure units because its the only place I would feel safe and settled.

“It all changed when i turned 18, I graduated to the adult criminal justice system, a week after my 18th birthday I was locked up in HMP Styal.

“My history of assaults meant I was high risk and put on the wing with the most serious adult offenders.

“It was a whole different world, there was violence, fighting, aggression.

“I learned more about drugs than I’d ever known and got addicted to subutex, a heroin substitute. One inmate took her own life because she couldn’t cope.”

Natalie added: “Returning to education was one of the biggest challenges I had to overcome.

“When I first started University I was so nervous that I would not fit in, as I thought everyone would know I am an ex-offender and that I would not be able to do the work.”

University of Cumbria Student Union Chief Executive Daryl Ormerod said: “Natalie’s story is compelling.

“Her ongoing commitment to developing herself so that she may in turn help others as she has been helped, is simply inspiring.

“We are proud to have her amongst our membership, and wish her well for what I am sure will be a highly successful future.”

By Stephen White

Source: Mirror UK

Nursing Students Punished Over Mahama

protest

Nursing Students Punished Over Mahama

SOME STUDENTS of the Mampong Midwifery and Health Assistants School were allegedly forced to kneel before Mohammed Kwadwo Aboasu, MCE of Asante Mampong, for drawing the attention of the President to their plight.

The MCE reportedly ordered the fear-stricken students to kneel before him as a form of punishment for what was described as offensive and unethical behaviour.

The students were said to have openly complained bitterly over their unpaid allowances to President John Mahama who had visited the area to inspect government projects on Saturday.

The nursing trainees also stood by the roadside displaying placards which had inscriptions that appealed to the President to come to their aid because they were suffering.

The peaceful protest embarked upon by the nursing trainees was said to have caught the eyes of the President and his entourage including the MCE whose convoy was passing by.

The MCE, who deemed the students’ action as insulting and offensive, therefore decided to show them where power lies, and therefore ordered them to go down on their knees after the President had left the area.

Commenting on the issue on Kessben FM, however, the MCE, Mohammed Kwadwo Aboasu, flatly denied ordering the students to kneel before him as a form of punishment over their protest to the President.

According to him, whilst the President’s convoy was passing by, he saw some students of the nursing school holding placards with inscriptions such as ‘We need our allowance.’

The Mampong MCE stated that the students’ action was unfortunate so he stormed the school after the President had left to admonish them not to repeat the act in future.

Mr Aboasu said he only told the students to report matters concerning their welfare to their school authorities in future, adding, “I did not let them kneel down as it is being bandied about.”

There were speculations with regard to the fate of the nursing trainees who were caught taking part in the demonstration.

Reports making the rounds indicated that the school authorities had suspended the affected students indefinitely.

Other reports said the school authorities had ordered the parents of the students that took part in the peaceful demonstration to appear before them.

Unconfirmed reports indicated further that the students would be ordered to sign a bond to be of good behaviour in future, else they would be sacked.

The NDC government owed them monthly arrears running into several months with plans to abolish the trainee allowance all together by next academic year.

Similar allowances for trainee teachers had been stopped for inexplicable reasons.

FROM I.F. Joe Awuah Jnr., Kumasi

Source: Daily Guide/Ghana

Mother, 25, Sells Newborn Boy to Childless Couple for £130

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Gauri Shah and the new newborn baby sold for just £130 becuase his mum is too poor to keep him after her husband left her eight months ago.Mother, 25, Sells Newborn Boy to Childless Couple for £130

A single mother of four was so poor she felt forced to sell her newborn son for £130 in rural India.

Gauri Shah, 32, who lives in a slum near railway tracks in a village, in Jalpaiguri, West Bengal with her three daughters aged between three and eight years old was abandoned by her husband eight months ago when she was expecting her fourth child.

She sold the baby boy to a childless couple but he was rescued after neighbours raised the alarm.

The ten-day-old baby is now being cared for at a children’s home.

His mother gave birth to him on May 25 but was uncertain how she could raise him alone so she sold the tot – who is yet to be named – to a childless couple seven days later.

However, the news soon spread within the village and the local government quickly stepped in and rescued the child.

But Mrs Shah refuses to take him back and the little baby was handed over to a children’s home.

Her only source of income is the money her 70-year-old mother gets after a day begging for hours on the streets.

She said that she feels no remorse about selling off her newborn baby, as she believes it was the best decision for her son and three daughters.

She said: ‘My husband left me eight months ago with three daughters. We depend on whatever money my mother manages to collect. She had to borrow Rs 100 (£1) from our neighbour for my delivery. I have no money to raise my children, how will I take care of another?

‘After I was discharged from the hospital, a childless couple approached me and asked me to give them my son for Rs13000. I accepted the offer, as I had no other option. I thought my son would live a better life with them.’

Mrs Shah said she would take back her son if the government helped her with some benefits.

The state administration has now given her 60 days to think about whether she will accept the baby. After that the infant will be given away for adoption.

Source: Dailymail.co.uk

Sleepless, hopeless, voiceless; an 18-year old's goitre-like ordeal

health & fitness

Grace Panyin needs your gracious help

Sleepless, hopeless, voiceless; an 18-year old's goitre-like ordeal

Living a normal life is a reality Grace Panyin cannot really relate to.

She has been struggling since she turned five years old because of a strange goitre-like disease threatening to keep her life hopeless, her plight voiceless, and her nights sleepless.

Grace Panyin lives in Mumford in the Gomoa West district of the Central region. Assembly man for Penkye electoral area, Samuel Koomson visited Grace's family and describes her plight:

"Flesh began to grow along her gums inside her mouth, and has grown further down her throat, enlargening her throat and pushing its way through the sides of her neck."

Photo Reporting

Smelly blood often ooze out of the mouth as and when the area enlarges.

Her fishmonger mother and fisherman father have sent her to hospitals in the Central Region with doctors unable to help her. They have referred her to Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, a place where poverty prohibits them from going.

For the many times she has been to the hospital, Grace has fallen in love with the green and white uniforms of the nurses and aspires to be one too.

Easier said than done. But for Grace, it cannot be even easily said, let alone getting it done.

The painful growth, wrecking its havoc over a 13-year period, means the young girl has had to drop out of school since Class Five - saving herself from ridicule from her mates.

You cannot look at Grace without making a grimace.

She barely speaks, capable of whispers only her family and close relatives understand. She moves around the house doing normal chores in silence for greater parts of the day.

You wouldn't know if she is smiling or if she is happy - the strange disease is ensuring that the 18-year old girl can hardly communicate the state of her soul to anybody.

Except by looking into her eyes - and if you look long enough you could see the imprisoned anguish groaning for help.

Grace means unmerited favour; but surely this is one favour - help - Grace really merits after a 13-year suffering with no sign of ending.

Photo Reporting

Source: Myjoyonline.com|Edwin Appiah|This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.