My name is Darya and I am from Helsinki, Finland. I arrived in Accra, Ghana, very late one Sunday evening a few weeks ago. My internship at Street Children Empowerment Foundation (SCEF) includes having empowering acting and dancing workshops with children after school activities. The children will be performing on the 15th of December for their parents, godparents and other children in the event “Sharing the Joy of Christmas”.
Empowering the street children in Jamestown works in a different way than empowering the kids back home. All children around the world have basic needs such as food, pure water and shelter. Children also need physical safety, emotional security and education. What happens if you don’t have these basic needs fulfilled? Living on the streets affects your behaviour. The children in Jamestown are courageous and tough, they are used to fighting for what they have. They won’t get anything by staying quiet. The difference in working with street kids here and working within empowering children in Finland is that the majority of the Finnish kids are more reserved. Here you don’t have to push the children to try doing things. Before you even end the sentence with a request, they have already tried it twice, screaming “Madam, look! Like this!”.
The dancing and acting workshops have been very interesting and inspiring. The children have taught me a lot. They have introduced me to African dance and taught me about a completely new rhythm and way to move. The motivation I see in the kids to learn something new and the ability to put themselves out there, is something I have never seen before. This motivation is something we need to keep up and running. We need to encourage the children to have that motivation to study and work for changing their future. The dance and theatre workshops are helping the children to keep up a positive attitude. In the workshops we are also going to address some specific topics and problems of the area, such as hygiene and sanitation, the importance of education and showing love and affection, just to mention a few.
So, what empowers the street children I work with? What do I, a person who is completely new with the culture, think they need? I think they need an adult that is present and there for them, they need someone to take care of them and someone to ask advice from. They need to be seen, to be special and acknowledged for being good at something. They need education. Theatre and dance workshops are valuable tools to cover many of the needs of these children. But first they need healthy food, pure water, shelter and a chance to go to and to stay in school. That is where SCEF is stepping in.