Kumasi

Children and their SOS mother, CV Kumasi, GhanaThe capital of Ghana's Ashanti region, Kumasi is home to around 1.5 million people. Despite acting as an important trade centre for local industries such as wood, gold and cocoa, Kumasi cannot provide work for many of the people who travel to the city from rural parts.

Ashanti is the most populous region in all of Ghana, with over 3.6 million inhabitants - nearly a fifth of the country's population - at the 2000 census. Around 155 miles from the capital, Kumasi is centrally located and this - coupled with its overall economic prosperity - accounts for its popularity among those searching for work.

The city no balm for joblessness

As is the case in many urban centres, wealth is far from evenly distributed in Kumasi. Desperate for work, many migrants quickly discover that the big city cannot provide the answer to joblessness. For many, living standards are hazardous. Sanitation and electricity are patchy, and sanitation far from guaranteed.

Unemployment is common, and young people suffer particularly in this regard. Street vending is a common trade among this demographic. This line of work makes for a precarious business, with income by no means secure, and traffic and violence a constant danger.

Children forced to turn to prostitution

Children can often be found at work on Kumasi's streets. Girls from Ghana's north often make their way to Kumasi in search of better opportunities. Often, these children are from impoverished families and lack skills and education. Many find jobs as kayayes - porters who charge a small fee for the transportation of luggage or belongings.

Income from such work is meagre. Some children turn to prostitution as the only means of survival. Sex tourism is on the rise in Ghana, with small boys suffering the worst. HIV/AIDS is a genuine hazard for these children, who lack the knowledge and resources to take preventative steps.

In some northern areas, girls marry young, and tradition dictates that they must bring a dowry to the marriage. But many are poor, and brides have nothing to contribute. In the hope of raising enough money to satisfy this expectation, some come to Kumasi. Inevitably, most are disappointed in their search for work, and fall victim to exploitation or poverty.

Children playing at SOS Children's Village Kumasi, GhanaWhat are we doing to help?

Our Children's Village is located in the small town of Asokore Mampong, on the outskirts of Kumasi. Our Children's Village provides a loving home and the best upbringing to children who have no one else to care for them.

Helping the community to thrive

We work with the community for the community. Education is hard to come by for many children in Kumasi, and we provide places for the most vulnerable at our SOS nursery and primary school. Here, local children mix with those from our Children's Village, allowing integration at an early age.

Every year, our medical centre provides over 12,000 people with healthcare. From treatment to preventative care, we ensure that families who would otherwise have nowhere to go at times of sickness are healthy and well looked after.

Our SOS Social Centre perhaps provides key support to fragile families in the community. From raising awareness of illness to advice on children's rights and needs, we help families better understand and care for their children.

With our help, families in Kumasi get the basics they would otherwise go without. Support at this fundamental level means that they can begin to enrich their children's futures.

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Did you know? SOS Children has been working since 1949, providing charity care for children and families.