Jewelry making, a way to thrive for Ghanaian women at risk
Aisha is originally from Togo. She was only 10 years old when her parents sent her to Accra, Ghana, because they could not afford her education. “I have a brother who is mentally disabled. One day, we had to put him in a hospital, which was expensive (…) so my parents sent me to Accra to live with family and to find a job.” In Ghana, Aisha worked as a house girl for a woman who forced her to work day and night without adequate food or pay. “I ran away and slept on the streets for a while because I had no place to stay. I then met a friend (…).
She introduced me to sex work. I made a lot of money and decided that I will just do sex work and not the housework anymore.”
Things changed radically for Aisha when she met staff from Pro-Link, a Crossroads International partner advancing women’s rights in Ghana. Pro-Link mobilized sex trade workers and women at risk to become peer educators to carry out health campaigns. The Obrapaa Women’s Group is one such group composed of 20 women who now design and sell jewellery. “With Pro-Link I learned about HIV and other diseases, so I have decided to stop sex work,” said Aisha.
“I want to make enough money to build a house so that I don’t have to sleep on the streets anymore. And I want to take good care of my daughter and send her to school.” Aisha, is a member of Obrapaa Women’s Group in Ghana
[Pro-Link staff] told me to join the group to learn a skill so that, if they are not around anymore to help me, I can make some money without going back to sex work.”
Crossroader Asia Clarke, a jewellery designer from Scarborough (Ontario), worked with Obrapaa on defining a business plan for the group. She assisted Obrapaa women in creating a brand and an initial collection called BIAKOYE that means togetherness.
“The goal is creating a new collection, but this time scaling up pro-duction and making outreach to wholesalers and boutiques across Africa and abroad,” said the volunteer.
By working as part of the Obrapaa group Aisha sees a brighter future for herself and her daughter. “I want to make enough money to build a house so that I don’t have to sleep on the streets anymore. And I want to take good care of my daughter and send her to school.”