African street child speaks of trials & hopes/Accra, Ghana FWD

Tom Boland (
Sat, 21 Nov 1998 17:02:33 -0400



There are many different types of street children in Accra, Ghana, who
have their own story of life. The story is a compilation of remarks
from interviews with many different street children who regularly
visit the CAS' House of Refuge in Jamestown.

It gives you a glimpse of what it means to be a street child in Accra.
Some of the things mentioned below are common among most of the

"Akwaaba, Welcome. My name is Kwame. 16 Years ago I was born in Ho. I
am the firstborn and I have a younger brother. Soon after the birth of
my brother my father left my mother alone to take care of us. Of
course she had to work hard. At the market she sold food. Mostly I was
hanging around at the market.

Six years ago my mother remarried. Her husband was not kind to my
brother and me. His own children went to school, but we couldn't. I
had to do all kinds of job for him. His children were often teasing
me. For example, when I had just washed the clothes and hung them up
to dry, they would throw them in the sand. They were always lying
about me to their father.

In the end the situation got out of hand, so I decided to move to
Accra. I was thirteen then. Some boys had told me "there is always
work to do in Accra". They had 'forgotten' to inform me about the big
number of street children, who all struggle to make a living. The jobs
that you can do in Accra are often not so nice: You have to work hard
to earn very small money. I made friends with a group of shoeshine
boys. At times when they decided to rest they allowed me to use their
shoeshine box. Through that I bought my own shoeshine box.

My brother soon followed me to Accra. He started selling rubber bags
at Kaneshie market. This job even earns less than shining shoes. I
help him. When we combine the money we earn, we can both eat two meals
a day. But it is difficult to make ends meet. Older and bigger guys
often hustle me to get my money. It's always smarter to give part of
my money immediately than to wait till they fight me and take it all.
It's very unfair, because I worked hard for the money. Sometimes my
friends and I (most of us are quite small and young) even pay another
group of big guys to fight for us, so these guys leave us alone.

My brother and I usually sleep with 30 others on the streets near
Railways. Even though we sleep in the open air, we have to pay money
to some of the leaders of the area, to be allowed to sleep at that
particular spot. I hate the rainy season. Then I get sick easily and I
don't get enough rest at night. When it starts raining we have to look
for another sleeping spot, because the ground is muddy. All the other
street children have the same problem, so normally it takes time and
many quarrels before I find another suitable place to sleep.

More than a year ago I met two fieldworkers of CAS on the streets.
They invited me to the House of Refuge. Usually I get up early to
start my day with shining shoes. Around noon I try to visit the
Refuge. At this time the literacy classes start. I follow the classes
and learn a lot. I had the chance of going to school for the first
time of my life. That's why I call the Refuge my School. In the
demonstration department I can make nice wood carvings and I learn how
to weave. I also rest at the Refuge or play games with friends. Then,
later in the afternoon, I will go to Circle to shine shoes again.

My brother likes the Refuge too. He is very serious in learning how to
make ceramics. I'm proud of him; he's getting on well. My wish for the
future? To become a good carpenter! Then I can move off the streets
and make a reasonable living. I'll first help my brother. And save
money so we can visit our mother. I wish CAS can get me on
sponsorship." It's a long time since I saw my mother. Apart from
paying the trip to Ho, I can't go to visit her and my stepfather with
empty hands. Maybe, after what I have just told you about my street
life, you can imagine that it's very difficult for me to save money.
Just recently I met somebody from Ho in Accra, who told me my mother
was doing fine. That was good news! By the way: I don't mean to make
you 'depressed' with telling you some of the things that happen to me.
I'm having a lot of fun too, with my brother and my friends!

Streetkid-L Resource Page:
Listowner:, John Brown University

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