Educating the women of Ghana through Action Aid

8th March 2018

Warren has been donating to Action Aid for over 25 years now and we're keen to continue to support the amazing work the charity carries out in the West African Republic of Ghana. Violence in the home and child marriages have been a way of life for some families in Ghana and with the help of Action Aid change is happening. From the account we received in a letter a woman who had experience of her own daughter being kidnapped-the people of Ghana are seeing that their situation can improve through the education of all. Although entirely coincidental, on International Women's Day-our article is well timed.

Below is an account from 40 year old Fredous.

“My name is Fredous Balali and I live with my husband and children in the Upper West region of Ghana. As a woman, before I married, I thought it was the norm for a man to beat and shout at his wife and children, it’s all I had known growing up, every family was the same.

But thanks to your support of the ‘The Next Step’ in Ghana, Action Aid has been able to establish and train Community based Anti-Violence Teams (COMBAT), one of which I am a member. Because of the training I have received at our team meetings, my thinking has changed.

With Action Aid’s support I have developed a strength that gives me the confidence to speak out against violence within the home and child marriage. Abiba Nibaradum from Action Aid asked if I would share my story with you, and explain briefly about the work of Action Aid’s COMBAT teams.

Each COMBAT team has seven members, who with the support of the local police, are trained in current laws like the domestic violence, marriage and children’s acts. Group members, including myself, then work within communities to promote and protect the rights of people, especially women and girls. There are 34 COMBAT teams in my region, we meet annually to discuss and share ideas, and review the impact of our work.

I undertook my initial training as a COMBAT member in 2011. I returned home with a greater awareness of my rights as a woman and a determination to help my community overcome gender based violence and child marriage.

At the time, on average, five girls a term were victims of child marriage. It’s whilst travelling to and from school that girls were particularly vulnerable to being kidnapped for marriage. Thankfully, I am delighted to report that my work to raise awareness among men and the negative affects of a child marriage has changed the trend for this hideous practice. To date we have rescued 27 girls, returning them to their families so that they can continue their schooling.

My greatest joy, working as a COMBAT member, has been the rescue of my own 16 year old daughter Adilata Balali, not once but four times. At 15 she was abducted by a young man on her way from school. When I heard what had happened I immediately went to his home and brought her back. This happened two more times, each time I found her and brought her home.

The fourth time my daughter was abducted I involved the Domestic Violence and Victims Support Unit of the Ghana police service. After listening to me they wrote a letter to the kidnappers summoning them to report to the police station with my daughter the next day. Thankfully they did, they were cautioned and I was reunited with my daughter. She remains safe with me and is currently in form two at Junior High School. I am filled with pride at what I did. I know that without Action Aid’s support I would never have had the confidence or courage to stand up against the men who kidnapped her.

Since the formation of the COMBAT teams, violence against women and girls is reducing. On behalf of women and girls from across Ghana, thank you for standing with us.”

If you have been moved by Fredous’ story, you too can support Action Aid. Their web address is   www.actionaid.org.uk          


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