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Students give support in Ghana

May 17, 2007

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By An Minh vu and Chantel Smiechowski

SFU students An Minh Vu and Chantel Smiechowski are on a field study/international development project in Ghana, West Africa, helping the country's Queen Mothers association care for women and children in rural communities. They are also working on a joint SFU/University of Ghana educational project to reduce HIV/AIDS stigmatization and discrimination. Here is a dispatch from the duo:

Women in the Queen Mothers association in Odumase Krobo (a village about two hours from Ghana's capital, Accra) take more than 1,000 orphans and vulnerable children into their own homes, integrating them into their community and supporting them as they would their own children.

On our first visit to Krobo it was clear that building was underway for a community centre complex for the Queen Mothers. The complex is crucial and it is up to us to figure out some ways to help the Queen Mothers continue with construction, while looking at the bigger issue — funding.

The stories that these women told us were very difficult to hear and are all very similar: most of the 1,035 children for whom the Queen Mothers are responsible need school supplies, tuition money, adequate food, clothing, health care and a space to gather and call their own. We have met some of the orphans and vulnerable children and some are wonderfully clever and bright. In another world, they would have a very bright future ahead of them. With dwindling funds, however, the future seems bleak. Our goal is to create some options for the Queen Mothers and the children. We hope to come up with new ideas for funding and support for this very important and amazing group of people.

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