The Mothers of St Nicholas
St Nicholas Academy is GVI Ghana’s newest local partner. Opened in 2018, this small and passionate village school now provides early-years education to around 60 young students, aged from 2-years to 10-years. Funded through sponsorship money raised from the international community, school meals, classes and educational resources are provided free to all students.
The children hail from the community of Oshieye, a small and economically under-developed fishing community on Ghana’s coastline, that has struggled for many years to attract development, investment or attention. The school offers places to those students and families who simply could not otherwise afford to access education.
Located just off the palm-lined Kokrobite beach, the ocean-breeze provides some respite at St Nicholas from the tropical Ghanaian heat. Five teaching staff supervise the children across three classrooms, with three further classrooms planned for completion later this year, due to the school’s popularity with the local community. Once a month the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) meets, comprising in the main of mothers who work in the local traditional fishing sector, preparing and selling the fish caught by the men of the village each day. Like parents everywhere, they attend the PTA to show their appreciation for, and deepen their ties with, the school and its staff.
Many of these mothers support their families on an income that falls beneath the international poverty index, many cannot read or write, and some speak no English; Ghana’s official language. Local fishing stocks cannot provide a sufficient source of income for the number of families currently depending on it. No alternative large-scale employers are based in the village, and, even if they were, the majority of the women have never applied for, or secured, a job in the formal employment sector before. This is where GVI hopes to help.
The Mums’ Club
In partnership with St Nicholas, GVI met today with the women of the PTA to discuss their dreams, goals and ambitions in life, including for, but not limited to, achieving greater economic independence and stability. The women are capable, but perhaps lack confidence. When asked what GVI could do to help, the women identify computer training, English language skills, small business management training, personal-skills development, and financial planning training as support services they feel would help them reach their goals. With GVI’s focus on knowledge sharing and empowerment, and as part of GVI’s support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDG #5 Gender Equality and SDG #8 Decent Work & Economic Growth, the opportunity was clear. And so was born the GVI/St Nick’s Mums’ Club!
The club is conceived as a safe-space for mother’s of students at St Nicholas to meet, chat, and participate in a planned program of vocational and economic empowerment classes with GVI. Their individual and personal goals and ambitions will form the basis for how GVI can measure its impact at a local level. Women who today said their lack of computing skills prevents them from searching or applying for new careers online will complete a review with GVI quarterly to see how the club is improving their IT skills and helping them to access those new employment opportunities. Women with an entrepreneurial idea who today said their inability to draft a business plan will complete a quarterly review with GVI to see how their business and document creation skills have developed and if they have been able to draft those new business ideas. The women will be able to choose from a selection of different skills workshops and courses and participate in those that will be of most value to them, with GVI onside to monitor and offer advice on how those particular skills can be applied to help the women achieve their individual ambitions.
At a global level GVI will, through the club, continue to support the international community’s development objectives through the United Nations’ SDGs. On a local level the women who participate in the program will know that their personal goals and ambitions are at the forefront of the project’s aims and objectives. And the icing on the cake, for both GVI team members and the local women, participation in the club will also be rewarded with social events, outings and fun activities to be organised by GVI, helping GVI to establish strong longterm relationships with the women and create a fun and enjoyable learning environment that encourages growth and rewards participation.
To learn more about GVI’s work in Ghana, or to find out if you can join GVI Ghana’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Program, get in touch with a GVI team member today!