Mrs Gifty Akosua Baka is very passionate when she speaks about children, particularly girls. Apart from the fact that she comes from a female-dominated family, she has enormous compassion for the underprivileged in society.
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According to Mrs Baka, “the welfare of children and girls touches the core of my heart”.
Indeed such an outlook on life, coupled with Mrs Baka’s upbringing and desire to fulfil her mother’s dream of supporting the vulnerable in society, greatly influenced her decision to become a social worker.
According to her, “my chosen profession has offered me the needed opportunities to help children and girls realise their innate potentials. The reality is that poverty, illiteracy and deprivation are all wearing female faces.”
“Children are innocent victims of a family’s predicament. The condition of children is worst off when they are coming from deprived communities,” she added.
These convictions, Mrs Baka indicated, were what drove her to leave her family behind in Accra to move around the country to touch the lives of children, particularly girls, throughout her working career.
It has offered her the opportunity to deal directly with the welfare of the vulnerable in society.
Mrs Baka is not only approachable but also affable and she takes her assignments seriously.
She currently works with the Ghana Country Office of the Christian Children Fund of Canada (CCFC) as the Country Director in Tamale. It is an international organisation that uses community integrated approach for the welfare of children.
The organisation operates in 15 districts in the Northern Region and renders direct services to over 8,000 children. It provides education through child sponsorship, access and school improvement and the supply of academic materials, health and nutrition for the beneficiary communities.
Other areas of intervention include water and sanitation, as well as sustainable livelihoods schemes for parents. It also offers training and support services to community-based organisations.
Mrs Baka revealed that the long-term vision of CCFC was to broaden its scope to rope in more beneficiaries in other disadvantaged communities and other regions of the country as it had now extended its services to the Upper East and Brong Ahafo regions.
She described gender parity in education in the Northern Region as very high and therefore advised parents and guardians in the area to ensure that children, particularly girls were not only enrolled in school but allowed to complete their respective courses successfully. “Had it not been education, I would not have been where I am today,” she indicated.
Before joining CCFC, Mrs Baka had worked with ActionAid Ghana for four years as the National Project Manager of Stop Violence Against Girls in School (SVGS), where she served extensively in the Nanumba District and supported hundreds of girls to complete their education.
She described her work at those areas as “amazing and fulfilling: you see girls who would have dropped out of school continued with their education to become responsible in future.”
Asked why she left ActionAid Ghana, Mrs Baka explained that “as a social worker, I honestly desire to broaden my scope of social responsibility beyond girls’ education to support other vulnerable groups.”
Earlier in her career, she had a short-term engagement with the United Way Ghana, Accra, an organisation that spearheads voluntarism in community development.
Mrs Baka also worked with the Society for Women and AIDS in Africa (SWAA) International, based in Dakar, Senegal from 2004 to 2007 as the executive director.
Among other responsibilities, she was also in charge of fund-raising and resource mobilisation for the organisation’s branches in 40 other African countries. She described her spell with SWAA as very gratifying.
She disclosed that “it was during that period that we won the best women advocacy organisation for HIV/AIDS prevention and management among women and children in Africa. The award was conferred on us by the African Union.”
As a result of her resourcefulness, she was offered a two-year extension after her initial one-year contract ended.
She also had brief work stint at the University of Ghana, as a lecturer in Social Work and also worked in the Value Added Tax office in Accra as an assistant revenue officer.
As a professional teacher, Mrs Baka served with the Ghana Education Service from 1984 to 2000 as a Senior Superintendant. She taught life skills, vocational skills and social studies. “It was not my intention to leave the teaching profession, but I had to move on to gain the needed practical experience to empower me to support underprivileged children and girls,” Mrs Baka explained.
She said even though she was the only student to have qualified from the Leklebi Senior High School in the Hohoe District in the Volta Region to go to the Sixth Form in 1981, “my father insisted I went to the St Francis Training College in Hohoe in order that I could come out to work to support my siblings.”
She earlier attended the Peki Senior High School for her GCE “O” Levels but unfortunately “our results were cancelled that year and so I had to attend Leklebi Senior High School for a re-sit.”
Finally, she wrote the GCE “A” Levels as a private candidate and gained admission to the University of Ghana in 1998 where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts First Class Honours in Social Work with Sociology.
She was subsequently awarded the International Ford Foundation Fellowship to proceed to the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom where she obtained her master’s degree in Social Work.
Mrs Baka also received certificates in various professional enhancement courses in project management, HIV/AIDS psycho-social counselling and leadership and social justice advocacy. She has assorted publications to her credit.
Her academic dissertations and essays include Female ritual slavery in Ghana: A social work perspective-dissertation for award of Master of Social Work degree and Motherhood in higher education for her first degree.
Mrs Baka comes from a family of girls. She was born in 1961 in Peki in the Volta Region and is the third of nine children from her mother’s side from a polygamous home. More than eight of her siblings including those from her step mother are all females.
She describes herself as a mother of all children even though she has four children, three girls and a boy. She is married to Mr Evans Kwaku Baka, a former staff of the Graphic Communications Group Limited in Accra.
Mrs Baka was full of commendation for her parents and her husband all of who she said had been helpful in her academic and professional excellence.
She further gave credit to her husband “for being cooperative and my backbone in supporting my work, family, studies and career to make me who I am today.”
Story: Zakaria Alhassan, Tamale.