AfriKids - Ghana
AfriKids is a Child Rights organisation working to improve life for Ghana’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged children. Their work includes children’s projects including foster homes, schools and street child centres, child trafficking, child labour and the spirit child phenomenon.
ALMT began their first partnership with AfriKids on one of their child rights projects based in northern Ghana, Operation Sirigu. The project began as basic funding to a local babies home in 1997 and has developed into a widespread child rights programme reaching the district's most vulnerable children. Operation Sirigu addresses the root causes of local child rights abuses holistically by providing home based care to vulnerable children, funding mother and baby units, improving local educational facilities and community sensitisation programmes with the key village women, `concoction men' and `soothsayers'. AfriKids have a solid and intricate understanding of the complexities surrounding the ‘spirit child phenomenon’, which has been the chief thematic focus of Operation Sirigu and in response to the community elders' requests, they are ready and keen to scale up the project.
At the heart of Operation Sirigu are Spirit Children, babies who for various reasons are deemed to possess evil spirits and thus killed as dictated by traditional belief systems. A number of characteristics are thought to denote the presence of evil spirits including deformities, the death of the mother in child birth, the death of a close family member around the time of the baby’s birth, being a twin or triplet or an inability to focus attention on the parents. These children are seen to be a threat to the family, absorbing time and resources that the family lacks. The traditional and spiritual understandings and practices are complex and ingrained. The Operation Sirigu team is small but effective, well trusted and local to the area. Every day more and more communities, chiefs, assemblymen and families come to them looking for help, counseling and support with their children. Children who have been rescued from families who were ready to sacrifice them are left with the team until they are able to safely reintegrate them or find appropriate alternatives.
ALMT's funding to AfriKids helped to enable to Angus Child Rights Centre where people can bring their concerns, their ideas and their hopes. In the Centre community issues are discussed, sick children are cared for, those with disabilities are linked to organisations who can help them, families who have lost the mother are given baby milk, the women's micro-financing grants are disbursed and monitored, business and financial skills training are given and there are so many facilities that the community need that ALMT through AfriKids have enabled.