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Ending Cycles of Illiteracy and Poverty ChoRkor: A suffering community

Can the cycle of Illiteracy and Poverty ever end?

Africa has been bedeviled with deep and grave issues ranging from high end corruption to various and incessant violent conflicts, retrogressive leadership, and poor organization and implementation of government’s efforts. All these and many more have culminated in deep seated poverty, high level of illiteracy, high rate of criminal activities ( these include the young ones, adults, and the older citizens), grave diseases, poor health care, and many more.

 

According to World Bank estimates, the share of Africans who are poor fell from 56% in 1990 to 43% in 2012. The report argues that the poverty rate may have declined even more if the quality and comparability of the underlying data are taken into consideration. However, because of population growth many more people are poor, the report says. The most optimistic scenario shows about 330 million poor in 2012, up from about 280 million in 1990. Poverty reduction has been slowest in fragile countries, the report notes, and rural areas remain much poorer.

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Chorkor Community

Chorkor, a Community in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana is one of such. Landing at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, with its beautiful and calm scenery, it seems unimaginable that there can be a set of people who live in abject poverty daily, with no hope of a better life. Some of the discoveries made in Chorkor are:

  • Chorkor is a densely populated area and it lacks basic social amenities such as toilets, bath houses, drains, schools, general playgrounds, designated refuse sites, etc.
  • Chorkor’s main stay is fishing and fish mongering.
  • Children sleep on the bare floor in their make-shift homes, seeing that a whole family shares a room; which is both their bedroom and their living room.
  • Young girls aged 12 get pregnant as a result of pressure from the community, and drop out of school (that is, if they were even attending).
  • Children walk around and work during school hours to support their families. Many of these children are expected to contribute to the family’s daily living, and also continue the parent’s fishing trade or selling of goods at the market; there’s little or no interest in education.
  • Owing to the unavailability of a proper sewage system, fecal matter and waste water run through the ill constructed drains in their homes, and children were seen defecating along these drains.
  • The beach where they fish is filled with garbage from homes, feaces, dirts and waste materials. In fact, one Lartey Lumba, a fisherman noted that most fishermen had abandoned the occupation because they constantly pick refuse, instead of fish. He further said that people from as far as Mamprobi, Sukra, and other neighboring Communities dump solid waste and refuse, into the Chemu Lagoon, which in turn carries them into the sea.
  • The beach, despite its filthiness is a safe haven for wee and cocaine smokers.
  • The beach serves as their playground, drains, toilets, bathrooms, ‘place of work’, refuse site etc.
  • Each child had a story, with evidence of heavy abuse and even trafficking.

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The only conclusion reached was that the Chorkor community is very poor, illiterate, suffering, vulnerable to all kinds of diseases, excluded from all forms of aid and assistance (from the government, NGOs, individuals, etc.) and in dire need of help.

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Ending the Cycle of Illiteracy and Poverty

Illiteracy and Poverty in Chorkor Community is one that calls for a full-fledged strategy and intervention, because it is a disaster waiting to happen.

There is a right to literacy as there is a right to education. It is a fact that illiteracy is closely linked to poverty, of which it is an indicator. Reducing illiteracy will lead to a reduction in poverty since it is a part of the way poverty is measured. Children should be encouraged to return to schools, with most (if nit all) needed materials

Ending this cycle could be in social or cultural dimensions. This is mostly linked to human development, empowerment (of women and minorities), personal well-being and good hygiene. Literacy is thus a viable weapon an instrument to fight against social and cultural inequalities, and against poverty. These inequalities are redressed through target programmes or interventions that correct these ills.

There could also be interventions on the skills and competences needed to function adequately in the society. This approach tackles mainly preparation for work, self-employment, access to micro-credit (to fix badly damaged boats, and replace nets, reels, and other lost or damaged equipment), management of the environment for better productivity and sustainability.

The aim of ending this cycle is to ultimately create sustainable communities, and yes, we can end the cycle of poverty and illiteracy.

Conclusion

Chorkor Community is suffering and in dire need of help. Let us rise for them.

 

                  Intervention – FIFES Vision 2022                  

Knowledge Aid Initiative in her quest to lead a sustainable change has identified the             intervention that will best fit the needs of the community.

FIFES – Fishermen Family Empowerment Scheme is a scheme for the fishermen and their family. It entails giving of micro-credit, empowerment of women with skills, provision of educational materials to children etc.

Objectives:

* To eradicate educational deficiency in the community.

* To empower women by providing them with needed opportunities, skills,     knowledge and relevant information on hygiene and sanitation.

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* To provide the men with capacity to take care of their families, and refuse abuse.

* To empower the youths and the community to live better and lead a sustainable change.

Vision 2022

  • 2500 children will be attending well-equipped schools and be provided with all needed educational materials.
  • 2000 women will be empowered.
  • A well-equipped Youth Training Center would have been built in the Community.
  • 2000 men would have been granted micro-credit loans to expand their businesses and acquire needed materials.
  • A more hygienic environment.

Struggling to survive ilaje: A call to help

Lagos State, South-West, Nigeria, West Africa, is a city loved and revered by a large percentage of Africans and even all over the world. Lagos State is the fastest growing city and a magnificent economic hub in Africa. It has the highest number of Millionaires in Nigeria, and handles 80% of the Country’s Imports. So, its waterways are vital and significant to it.

Amazingly, amidst these huge and captivating resume lay an impoverished community. Ilaje Community in Bariga area, Somolu Local Government is an ugly sight to behold. The Community consists basically of the Egun and Ilaje people. While the Ilaje people were said to have migrated from Ondo State, Nigeria, the Egun people came from Badagry Local Government of Lagos State. It is a riverine area, and so their major occupation is fishing. Looking up from the community, one would see a beautifully constructed bridge yet, if anyone dares walk on the bridge, the stench from the community is bound to send such person running and scampering for safety. The Ilaje Community is characterized by:

  • High level of poverty: They live on the lagoon; construct makeshift wood houses which most times are without doors and windows. These houses have no compartments, and up to three (3) generations with all their children live in a single room. These houses serve as their business centers in the day and homes at night.
  • 98% of the families in the community live below a dollar per day. The children look and are malnourished in every sense of the word.
  • The men fish, while the women roast the fish and sell at ridiculously low prices, else no one will buy from them.
  • One of the Fishermen noted that fishing is seasonal; that there are times they would only catch few fishes. At these times, the hunger is increased because there is no means to meet the demand upon them.

  • Lack of basic social amenities: Such as potable water, toilets, bath houses, drainage systems, good schools, recreational centers, good and habitable houses, designated refuse sites.
  • Both adults and children defecate in the water they live in, yet they take their bath in it. They also dump their refuse in the same water, and that is the main source of water they cook with.
  • The Schools there are a sorry sight, and leaves a foul taste in one’s mouth. The children are not provided with the necessary materials to learn, so they do not go to school. The Nursery School is dilapidated, and students do not even have uniforms
  • The beach where they fish is filled with garbage from homes, dirt, fecal matter, and all kinds of disgusting things.

People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all.

  • Extremely Low Level of Literacy: The literacy level in Ilaje is extremely low. Most members of the community have neither formal nor informal education. Even the school provided is filled with unqualified teachers.
  • The sickening part is that the people show little or no zest to life. They live as though they are hopeless, and can only get worse.
  • Most of the children either assist their families in fish selling, or are given out to work for others, so as to support their families.
  • The low level of illiteracy has produced so much belief and faith in witchcraft, sorceries, etc. So they tend to attribute most issues to their beliefs, including education, immunization, etc.
  • Child and women abuse.

 

  • Impending Danger: These issues spell danger for the Community, the State and the World at large.
  • The Community, particularly the children are prone to diseases of all kinds.
  • Teenage pregnancy and gender inequality is bound to be on the rise, seeing that there is little or no interest in education; both formal and informal.
  • The poverty level is on the rise, with no end in sight, and this would lead to increase in criminal activities.

The standard of living in Ilaje is sickening, horrifying and appalling. It is impossible to visit the community and not see fear in the eyes of the people. Any visitor will be more horrified to imagine that human beings could live in such a degenerated and degenerating atmosphere. The people of Ilaje are poor and very vulnerable. They need empowerment and protection.