Happy International Women’s Day! Today we are celebrating the 3039 Volunteer Mothers who run our Play Schemes in Ghana and Uganda. Sahatu is one of our inspiring Volunteer Mothers at the Zangbalung Bihi Play Scheme in Northern Ghana.
Sahatu Abukari is a 30 year old Mother of eight from Zangbalung Bihi village. Much of Sahatu’s adult life has largely consisted of farming to make ends meet, and cooking and cleaning for her family.
Despite only having limited opportunities herself, Sahatu has always wanted better for her eight young children. When Lively Minds approached the Zangbalung Bihi community, Sahatu jumped at the chance to become a Volunteer Mother, and set up an educational Play Scheme. Asked why she put herself forward, Sahatu explains:
‘Because I want to be part of giving my children a good education.’
94% of Volunteer Mothers at Lively Minds Play Schemes in Ghana have never completed primary school. For many of the mothers, becoming a volunteer acts as a second chance learning opportunity, and for Sahatu this was especially true:
‘I did not have a huge amount of knowledge and skills before… I was unaware of the right names of the colours.’
Today Sahatu is one of 38 mothers at the Zangbalung Bihi Play Scheme. The Volunteer Mothers underwent six weeks of training where they were taught how to teach the children through play, and how to set up and run their own educational Play Scheme using the local materials around them.
The Mothers now take it in turn each week to teach all the young children in their community. The Play Scheme provides the children with the opportunity to develop key cognitive skills in small groups and through discovery based play. On the day that Sahatu teaches, she notes:
‘I start at 9:00 and teach until 10:00. I teach the children many things including how to count, and how to recognise colours and objects… the children build their knowledge, and play. I think that it is helping the children to be more creative, and they are much better at maths now’.
By becoming a Volunteer Mother, Sahatu is making a vital contribution to the development of her community. Sahatu enjoys meeting and working together as a team with the other mothers at the Play Scheme. She is a change-maker, not only for her own life and her children’s, but for the community as a whole.
“I think the Play Scheme is good for the community and I would like it to continue”.
Sahatu’s experience is similar to many of the Volunteer Mothers at our Play Schemes in rural deprived communities in Ghana and Uganda. Growing up in poverty, and lack of access to quality education, mean that many women in rural communities risk being marginalised. However, by training them as Volunteer Mothers, we empower women like Sahatu, and give them a voice and a standing in their community .
In 2016 we aim to train over 1,400 Mothers in Ghana and Uganda to set up a further 38 Play Schemes. This will not only give quality early childhood education to over 4,500 children, but it will also give women like Sahatu the skills, vision and confidence to give their children a better start in life, and break the cycle of poverty.