Back home in Canada, if a police officer identified a child to be homeless, they would likely be taken to shelter and provided for and through our child services system eventually placed into some kind of home. But here in Ghana the government does not intervene and the police are probably your enemy.
As we set out this evening into the streets, our guide Desmond, a young and dedicated Future of Africa leader took us through a modern shopping mall that wouldn’t have looked much different from the mall back home. Yet just a short walk from what looks like a developed and modern area you can find many children who struggle to survive on the streets. In this case, the children we met literally slept on the street atop a 3 ft tall median dividing a highway with fast moving traffic.
Desmond said to us “ok were going to do something kind of dangerous now” so we jumped onto the median and stood on top of it where the kids sleeping arrangements were sprawled out. Unbelievably this was where these children slept. Only a few rolls in one’s sleep and a child could be rolling off the median and into oncoming traffic, never mind trying to sleep with the noise. As if that wasn’t hard enough, two young girls, both under 15, told me how police would come and tell them to move, and beat them. But where are they to go? I had to wonder.
Yet despite these horrendous circumstances there were still smiling faces and mine was one of them. After we moved off the median and onto the side of the highway, we joined the kids in some games. Many of these games involved singing and dancing, of which I did not know the words or the moves. All the same, I was inspired by the way the kids joined together and found joy in the middle of a highway that is their home here in Ghana.
The children were happy to teach us their games and we somewhat awkwardly became their students. But I can honestly say being with this group of Ghanaian children was probably the most fun I’ve had with a group of people for a while. I mean the mission immersion team is alright but these kids were a blast. I don’t dance for just anyone.
Also along for the fun was team member Harry, who got himself into a bit of a “hairy” situation. Having longer hair that is different from most Africans hair, the kids naturally wanted to touch it. His nicely styled hair was soon messed up by half a dozen pairs of little hands. Harry also brought his ukulele which helped us to engage with the kids.
All in all, the evening was such a mix of emotions and experiences from the sadness of hearing about the circumstances of their lives to being inspired by the joy they still have and shared with us. But I would say I feel richer and privileged to have spent time with these kids.