SOS Children Villages, Ghana, has concluded its five year Family Strengthening Programme in which 30,000 vulnerable children in eighteen communities have benefited.
The project, funded by Together4Change and the Dutch government, was aimed at strengthening the capacities of families, community structures and increasing their resources for the wellbeing of vulnerable children.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Mr Alexander Mar Kekula, National Director of SOS Children Villages Ghana, said the programme has brought about economic development, increased access to social services, enhanced child protection and a strong civil society.”
He said the idea behind the programme is to empower communities and families to take charge of the continuous development of children through community support mechanisms, networks and partnerships.
Mr Kekula said the innovative project has positively changed the way “we engage communities in addressing the plight of orphans and vulnerable children in a more sustainable manner.
“The successful completion of this project is yet another manifestation of SOS Children Villages Ghana’s continued commitment towards improving the quality of lives of Orphan Vulnerable Children (OVC) in this country,” he said.
Mr Kekula said “the project certainly helped us to reach out to more children with various interventions thereby offering them the opportunity to develop their potentials and talents which otherwise could have gone wasted or underutilized.”
He said even though five years may be too short a time to effectively assess the impact of the project, some impact has been made in the lives of many project beneficiaries.
“As a result of the various economic opportunities that were created for many vulnerable families since the inception of the project, more than 78 per cent of caregivers have become more self-reliant and are capable of accessing social services like health, education, water and sanitation without external support”, Mr Kekula said.
Additionally, the programme has successfully invested in the creative potentials and energies of young people through tailor-made vocational and technical training to create job and employment opportunities for them.
“In effect, 85 per cent of the young people who have acquired knowledge in Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) are applying their skills to earn income in Ghana”, he said.
Mr Kekula said through the programme, seven water projects in seven communities have been made delivering potable water to a hitherto water-poor people.
“The tractor service in Tamale has come in handy for the impoverished farmers who have received quality and affordable services which were beyond their means. The construction of toilet in Ashaiman has helped to improve sanitation in that community,” he said.
Mr Kekula said over the last five years, the programme has invested more resources in improving childcare and parenting skills of caregivers.
“Generally, the net effect of these programmes has led to increased awareness and knowledge regarding childcare. Community members have become more aware and take initiatives to protect children against child rights violations.”
He said, “It must be emphasized that, the successful implementation of the project has proved that, a sustainable community development is possible when a community relies on its resources to strengthen itself to address the myriads of problems that confront it.
The enormous potentials and opportunities that exist in the communities are sufficient for community members to drive (their own) change and development.”
Mr Kekula said: ”SOS Children’s Village Ghana will therefore continue to support local initiatives, build communities’ capacity and confidence to lead the development of communities”.