UNITED WAY GHANA LAUNCHES READING ENGAGEMENTS IN AYAWASO NORTH
“I can't emphasize it enough: Our collective fight against COVID-19 will be successful if we work together. We're in this together”.(Brian Gallegher, 2020). During these uncertain times, we must work together towards meeting the needs of the vulnerable in our societies against our common enemy, COVID-19. The virus, akin to the Spanish Influenza, has affected 215 countries and territories. This virus has hit multitudes globally, but the most affected are the people living in underserved communities, lacking access to health services.
In Ghana, the situation is no different, as the number of patients rise, and schools continue to be closed, the return of young learners to their classrooms is becoming increasingly slim. This led to the creation of our COVID-19 Response Initiative. The COVID-19 response is configured to ensure community readiness in the face of the coronavirus with a 4 - pronged approach: Community Sensitization (in local languages), Childhood literacy and Remote Learning, provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) and provision of Foodstuff.
Together with Acheivers Ghana, Muslim Family Counselling Services and Mother of All Nations Foundation United Way Ghana embarked on the literacy phase of our COVID-19 Response Initiative.We began our literacy engagements with the young boy called Fawaz Musah, 14 years old in grade 7. We learnt he was a resident of the area and was living with his mother, Khadija, a trader.
His mother, like most single parents, seeks to provide the most urgent need: food. The meager profits from trading is not enough to cover the cost of the numerous textbooks that her son needs for his education. The partial lockdown put a strain on her finances and her ability to take care of both her and her son. Now that the partial lockdown is over, she can go back to work and try to earn some money for their day to day expenses like food and water from the town’s water pump center.
Her biggest concern is that her son is idle at home, with no access to resources either online or on television, and will likely fall into bad company. “I struggled with the idea of leaving him at home or taking him along with me to the market. The older boys in these areas are not good role models so I worry a lot about my son”. United Way Ghana’s COVID-19 Response Initiative targets young learners like Fawad, who have no access to learning resources.
The literacy component of COVID-19 Response Initiative provides a booklet of grade appropriate stories for young learners. Volunteers engage these young learners in small groups. The volunteers move from one household to another; most of these households are made up of four to six families. Volunteers engage as many as ten children or more from one household.
The stories made available to these young learners depict the current world situation in a way that children can easily understand. After a few minutes of reading, the volunteer tests the comprehension skills of the young learners by asking them questions on what they read. In doing this, the volunteer also gives them the opportunity to ask questions about COVID-19 which their parents or caregivers would otherwise be unable to answer.
After half an hour, the volunteers move on to another house to engage the young learners there, “I was happy when I heard we were coming to read” said Fawad, “I enjoy being able to ask questions, I have heard that there are teachers teaching on Television but we don’t have one.” Like most of his peers, the story is the same.
One hundred and thirty-four young learners are currently benefiting from our literacy engagement and twenty volunteers answered our call to action on behalf of the vulnerable in this community. Ayisha Mohammed a volunteer commented, “I am glad to be part of the initiative because these children deserve quality education just like their peers, so it’s a privilege to be a part of this.”