Mercy is typical of the girls at the training centre. Most don’t know how old they are, but we think that Mercy is around 12. She grew up in poverty in the remote “overseas” region of Ghana which can only be reached by boat. She left home to work in the markets of Kumasi and had been there for about one year when her mother had an accident at home. In the spring of 2011, while pregnant and fetching water from a well, the bucket slipped, hitting her mother on the head. Without any medical attention available, both Mercy’s mother and the baby died. Unable to look after the remaining 5 children, Mercy’s father has placed his daughter in the care of the project.
The Tamale Training Centre is now the main focus for vocational training, with up to 45 girls and young women living and working at our purpose built centre. The girls are all from the poorest of families, each with a personal story of hardship and often tragedy. During their stay of at least two years, the girls learn to tailor clothes on hand operated sewing machines, as well as being taught to read and write. When they have reached the required standards, the girls graduate at a formal ceremony dressed in clothes that they have made themselves. The contrast between girls who start at the training centre, and the young women who graduate is huge.
At the graduation ceremony, each girl is presented with a new sewing machine to take back to their home village. This, along with their practical skills has the added benefit of increasing their desirability as potential wives. We often find that the girls will marry teachers, pastors or other professionals and will be able to afford to educate their own children.
Tamale Training Centre