An adolescent girls empowerment club run by the Planned Parenthood Association Ghana (PPAG) is helping save an abandoned ICT center at Adidome in the Central Tongu District of the Volta Region from total ruin.
The building was put up by mobile telecommunications company MTN in 2012 as a dedicated support for ICT development in the district but was soon abandoned by burglars as stakeholders failed to bring it to intended relevance.
Over 40 computer sets and other high end gadgets including printers and internet servers were ransacked, with broken pieces littering the facility and its surroundings as forensic evidence of the heist.
For years, the building and its contents, not valuable enough to be plundered, enjoyed the cover of wild foliage and the company of reptiles.
The Young and Wise Club, the PPAG’s girls social club, found the place useful, and through the help of the local assembly man, cleaned it up and made it befitting for its Reproductive Health Education and Services for Youth (RHESY) programme.
The Club was formed in 2019 and moved to the abandoned center about a year later, after managing sessions in classrooms and other in-conducive settings.
Presently, windows remain torn, and the facility is yet to have electricity reconnected, and so activities cannot enter the dark.
The girls’ club is part of programmes under the Seven Country Program, a UNFPA initiative being implemented by the PPAG, and which over the years has been instrumental in transforming the disturbing outlook of the Tongu districts as a hub for child sexual rights abuse and related challenged including underage pregnancies and marriages.
Several teen mothers have been supported to return to school, while the various livelihood empowerment skills offered, which includes the production of soaps and detergents, and catering, helps provide the needed financial independence to sustain their development.
Christopher Makam, PPAG’s Field Officer for the District told the Ghana News Agency (GNA), that the building was situated at a point easily accessible to the various communities in that area, and that the facility had become a center crucial to the work of the Organization as it helped sustain weekly meetings.
He noted how adolescent sexual and reproductive health programming by the Club attracted young girls seeking refuge from predatory entities and said quite a number had benefited from its membership, exiting with relevant skills they could build their lives upon.
“What they are learning here has motivated five girls from the area to go back to school with pregnancies and newly born babies. This center helped in saving a young girl who was living with an elderly man a child marriage agreement,” the Field Officer said.
He said the move into the facility was yet to have any official endorsement save the Assembly Member, and so the Club hesitated in committing further to its rehabilitation.
Mr Makam appealed to MTN to consider the center and its present use by the Club and help restore its usefulness and warmth.
“We would like to appeal to the authorities – to MTN, to reconsider the project. Young people are the future of this country. They are key to development and as a development-oriented company, we believe MTN focuses on programes of young people.
“Young people are being affected so much by sexual and reproductive health and rights, and if MTN could help us renovate the place as a resource center for the youth, it would bring about development in their lives.
The field Officer said MTN should consider refitting the building with the latest technologies and gadgets to attract young people and said the PPAG would ensure its management for the continuous benefit of all.
“Computers and other gadgets would facilitate learning and other activities, and with the availability of other instruments, the center could provide the skills training needs of the youth. If the place could be well developed, we would be able to learn industrial skills and it would help us a lot.
“The place should be a resource center for young people. So far in Adidome, there is no substantive resource center, and reproductive health challenges are the major challenge we are facing in the country – teenage pregnancy, STI, unsafe abortions etc,” Mr Makam appealed.
The Young and Wise Club admits about 20 members and periodically permits some male adolescents who also are targets of the nonprofit for their roles in young female development.