The National Director of SOS Children's Villages Ghana, Mr. Alexander Mar Kekula is urging society to help build safe environments for children to grow in, and by extension build a better nation.
He says this can be achieved by reaching out in diverse ways to teach and show children love, peace and compassion as well as assure them that we can be each other’s keeper.Follow @Graphicgh
Mr. Kekula was speaking in an interview with Graphic Online when SOS partnered with the child-focused NGO, Bread of Life International to fete about 1,000 children in the Ashaiman municipality of the Greater Accra Region.
The children, giggling, cheerful or carefree as they were handed packs of a variety of foods and drinks, expressed gratitude to the organisers.
Mr. Kekula said while love and compassion could be taught by talking about them, a more pragmatic approach was by giving and supporting children in need, who, having been so loved, grow up as kind and compassionate members of the society and in turn spread the love.
He pointed out that safety-nets that in times past ensured that every child grew up in homes that managed and cared for their needs are no longer in existence.
“We have a population of 30.1 million people in Ghana and a large portion of our population are children. Sometimes there is an average of three to four children per family. The poverty gap is also increasing as a nation even as we try to reduce poverty, there are many people who are giving birth to children but are not prepared in terms of the right skills, to have jobs, and we have many teenagers giving birth too early. Because of that, the safety net for children may not be there. We wish that we are able to reach out to every deprived child to support them,” he said.
Bread of Life International
Mr Kekula observed that while it is practically impossible to reach out to all deprived children in the society because they cannot all be identified, besides the financial constraints, partnerships such as the one with Bread of Life International is very practical and a step in the right direction.
“You can never possibly reach out to them all because you may not know who those children are, so there should be attempts to reach out to children in different forms like what we are doing today. We are here in Ashaiman at the St. Augustine’s School where we are trying to reach out to children who probably may not have had lunch during the Christmas, to share with them.”
He said the partnership with the Bread of Life International was in its third year, having started in 2019 with an outreach programme at Tema Manhean and in 2020 at Agbogbloshie in Accra Central, hosting thousands of children to great feasts.
“We just want to teach them love, teach them compassion, teach them peace, teach them that we can be our brother’s keeper. These are very young children and if you start teaching them love during this festive time, believe me these kids will grow with it, also supporting their other siblings when they are older. Besides that no child should go to bed hungry.”
The bigger picture
The Founder of Bread of Life International, Michael Sam, told Graphic Online a lot of children not only in Ghana, go through the days without full meals as a result of poverty, and his desire is to see to empower and encourage more people to help combat the menace.
Himself a beneficiary of the SOS training and upbringing, Michael said he finds it heavenly inspired to give back and support the vulnerable and those in need so they can realize their own dreams.
“Somebody helped me. SOS sponsored my upbringing and my schooling in the USA. It can only be good to give back to society,” he said.
Michael hinted of plans underway to make his intervention more sustainable – including partnering with grocery stores, restaurants and other hot meals providers to reach out to more children.
Ultimately, he seeks also to support the youth to go into farming by putting them in agriculture-based training institutions so they can learn to grow food.