Amina's story / Ghana 2014
Today I am invited by Robert Boogaard to visit Nima slum in Accra, Ghana. Robert is a Dutch social entrepreneur and co-founder of Jazi Foundation. Jazi was set up to promote enjoyable and effective philanthropy. Robert is an active guy with more than 15 years of experience in running businesses & startups. He is also connected to a project in Ghana’s capital Accra; the Achievers Book Club (ABC). A project that started with Amina…
Amina was born in one of the poorest slums in Ghana: Nima slum. About 80.000 people from various backgrounds live here, packed together in small houses. Slums are universally assumed to be the worst places for people to live in. But as I experienced before in other slums in Africa, there are also positive stories to find. Like Amina’s story, which is pretty amazing.
At the age of 12, she was forced into marriage. But with the help of her teachers, she managed to stand up for her rights and was finally able to prevent the forced marriage. This made her an inspiration for other girls in her slum community. In 2011 Amina co-founded an organization called the Achievers Book Club (ABC). It started out as an after school reading club for girls, but quickly turned into an organization championing the cause of education for underprivileged girls in the slum communities in Ghana. The mission: Education for all girls in slums in Ghana.
Now, aged only 15, Amina and her organization are already supporting over 60 girls financially to be able to attend school. Another 150 girls are supported through the afterschool and weekend activities. Extraordinary considering that about 60% of these girls grew up in a Muslim culture in which forced marriage is very common. Amina and her organization succeeded in convincing the imam about the importance of education for girls. Today the ABC is partly earning its own money. Apart from local sponsors some of Nima's mosques also support Amina’s mission.
Together with Robert, Amina and some of the other girls connected to Amina’s organization I wandered through the slum. Meanwhile Amina and her friends told me their stories. It’s hard to imagine that you are forged to marriage at a young age. But what these girls achieved is even harder to believe. It’s a great example of young people taking responsibility for solving the challenges within their own community and how they become a role model for other girls.
Amina’s story reminds me of the story of Malala Yousafzai. The 16-years old girl from Pakistan who has risked her life in the fight for access to education for girls all over the world. Malala won the International Children’s Peace Prize 2013. Amina also earned international recognition, being selected as one of the three nominees for the same prize in 2012. The price is awarded annually to a child who has made a significant contribution to advocating children's rights and improving the situation of vulnerable children.
With the help of Jazi Foundation Amina’s organization the ABC created a business plan. Jazi committed to support her organization and help them further professionalize, build capacity and scale up operations, in order to be able to support hundreds of girls in several slums throughout Ghana. By 2016, the ABC should be in a position to continue on its own feet to achieve new heights in promoting education for girls.
Want to read more about Amina’s organization? Please visit: http://achieversbookclub.org