GHANA: Poverty and the rise of orphans and street children
Ghana, formerly known as the Gold Coast is a country on the West Coast of Africa. It gained its independence from Britain in 1957, becoming the first sub-Saharan nation to break free from colonial rule. Ghana’s population is about 28.21 Million, with two-thirds of its population living in the rural areas. The country's economy is dominated by agriculture, which accounts for about 35% of GDP and employs about 55% of the work force. Due to the economic disparity of the country, one-fourth of Ghana’s population lives on less than $1.25 a day, the new official poverty line. Among many other reasons, such as economic hardship, parental irresponsibility, divorce, deaths of parents etc., most children living in the rural areas are forced to migrate from different part of Ghana to the more developed capital, Accra, to find a better life for themselves. As a result, Ghana now has over 1 million orphans of both boys and girls and the number keeps growing. The ages of these street children are between 6 and 18 years old. With no place to sleep and no food to eat, these children are exposed to child trafficking, child labor, sexual abuse, rape, substance and alcohol abuse as well as other major diseases such as malaria, fever, rashes, and infections.