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In 2016, 458 reported cases of teenage pregnancy were recorded in the Atwima Kwanwoma district of Ghana alone. Inhabitants, however, mentioned that the situation is worse than what the statistics say. 

Peter Gyamfi, a 21-year-old who hails from Trabuom, a farming community in the Atwima Kwanwoma district of the Ashanti Region, shares his story with Hope for Future Generations.Peter dropped out of Senior High School and now depends on his parents for his livelihood. His dream is to become a soldier. Peter better describes his goal:

In the next five years, I wish to become a soldier. That is my goal but I have lost courage because I don’t have any certificate to take me there so I need help.

Peter was selected and trained as a Peer Educator in the UKAid-supported Ghana Adolescent Reproductive Health (GHARH) project through a community health nurse. As part of the selection criteria, HFFG requested that adolescents who were respected within their community and among their peers be included. Unfortunately, Peter had garnered reputation because his girlfriend was pregnant and he had become the talk of the town. However, after the peer educators’ training, he resolved to use his experience to encourage peers to learn from his predicament by abstaining from sex or engaging in safe sex practices.

Due to Peter’s commitment and passion to contribute to reducing teenage pregnancy in his community, he was also trained to be an advocate under the project. After the training, he became a member of the Atwima Kwanwoma District Project Management Committee. As an advocate, Peter engaged in decision-making processes at this level and became an active agent of change in his community.

According to Peter, being given the opportunity to be a peer educator and an advocate has really impacted his life positively. It is an opportunity he never thought he could have due to his economic situation and his current state as a teenage father.  He has promised to contribute his quota to his community’s development through a continuous engagement with community leaders. This is a link that HFFG helped him to establish. Through this connection, Peter will use his new capacity to empower his peers with accurate sexual and reproductive health information. Peter also received skills training in beads making and rabbit rearing through the ‘Boys Time’ activity under the project.  He continues to feel empowered economically to be able to cater for himself and his family.

A PLHIV who took a bold decision to accept her condition, adhered to therapy and now, an entrepreneur.

Grace is a 21-year-old lady who was diagnosed with HIV and initiated on ARVs during  the outbreak of Covid-19. Covid-19 has been a big disruption to achieving the 95-95-95 HIV target. During the peak of the pandemic, the USAID Care Continuum Project adopted a door-to-door strategy to intensify its case finding among the general and key populations.  Pregnant women and children, boys and men, adolescent girls and young women including female sex workers (FSW) were reached within this period.

Grace was one of the female sex workers who tested positive in the Jomoro district.  Having gone through denial for a while, she finally accepted to enrol on treatment.  After taking her ARVs for the first 3 months, she insisted on taking a viral load test “because that’s the only way to know if the ARVs are really working” she said. She was directed to the laboratory for her sample to be taken on 19th August, 2020. Her results came on the 30th of October, 2020 and she was virally suppressed.

She had become virally suppressed within 3 months of therapy.  This made her very happy and hopeful for the future. In one of her discussions with our Project Officer she spoke about starting a lucrative business to support herself.  In  May 2021, Grace successfully opened her own food joint.

 In her advice to persons newly diagnosed with HIV, she said “PLHIVs should be comfortable having open conversations with others in the same condition for support and guidance as well as adhere to their ARVs and soon, they will become virally suppressed like me.”

HFFG under the USAID Strengthening the Care Continuum Project advocates for ART unit for Bamiankor Health Centre

Continuous and easy access to antiretroviral therapy is key to the global response to end AIDS. Bamiankor Health Centre in Nzema East District, Ghana was formally a facility that picked up antiretroviral therapy drugs (ARVs) from Axim Government Hospital for HIV positive clients identified within its territory. The facility became inactive for clients due to funds for nurses’ transportation to Axim Government Hospital every month for drugs pick-up. As a result, the few people on treatment at the facility defaulted because they could not also get money for transportation to go for their drugs at Axim.

Due to these challenges, Hope for Future Generations (HFFG) allocated some funds meant to follow-up on defaulters available to facility nurses to pick-up ARVs from Axim Government Hospital, in order to reduce the rate of defaulters in Nzema East District. HFFG staff with the support from USAID Strengthening the Care Continuum Project also made available extra supply of ARVs to Bamiankor Health Centre from Axim Government Hospital every month to aid newly identified and initiated PLHIV during outreaches.

As a result of this new initiative of drugs pick up to Bamianko Health Centre, all cases identified are initiated the same day due to the supply of drugs from Axim Government Hospital. Highlighting on the aim, clients were also advised to prepare for viral load samples taking which occurs after 6 months of being on medication. The viral load testing is only done at Axim Government Hospital and it is compulsory for all clients to take part to check viral load suppression.

In order to sustain this initiative, HFFG decided to engage facility heads to be able to allocate some funds derived by the hospital to support deliver drugs to other health facilities which may have more PLHIV, but lack drugs for initiation which didn’t work out due to lack of funds.

The effort didn’t end there. HFFG followed up with JSI and Axim ART Centre to facilitate the process of making Bamianko an ART Centre with trained nurses to manage the place. JSI also followed up with the Regional Director of Health Services and the District Director of Health Services for the initiative. Now the dream has become a reality. In this month of April, 2021 Bamianko Health Centre has been declared an ART Centre with trained nurses to manage the place.

All logistics have also been sent to the facility to facilitate the process. Clients under USAID Strengthening the Care Continuum Project now, other clients and future ones in and around Bamianko ART Centre will have easy access to their medications to prevent defaulters and lost to follow up (LTFU). This in the long way will contribute to effective case management and viral load suppression.

Thanks to HFFG, JSI and USAID Strengthening the Care Continuum Project.

Ghana is the second largest producer of gold in Africa. According to a special report on African women in artisanal and small-scale mining published by the African Union and the African Minerals Development Centre, this mining workforce attributes more than half of the worker population to women.

The gender-specific social and economic barriers that women and girls face such as limited access to decent jobs in the mines and exposure to gender and sexual abuse have a significant impact on their health and wellbeing. The reverse is also true. Women’s opportunities to engage in economic activities and improve their socio-political status are affected by limited access to healthcare, contraception and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) education.

The Golden Line Programme

Based on the barriers mentioned above, Hope for Future Generations  is implementing the Golden Line Programme in partnership with Simavi, Solidaridad and Healthy Entrepreneurs to improve the health, economic opportunities and empowerment of women living in and around artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) communities in the Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipal, Wassa Amenfi East, Prestea-Huni Valley and Ellembelle districts in the Western region of Ghana.

The overall goal of the project is to work closely with communities to improve women’s status and abilities to engage in economic activities, increase their SRHR knowledge and create an environment where communities, health workers and authorities actively recognise women’s health rights.

According to Cecilia Senoo, the Founder and Executive Director of HFFG,

The 5-year Golden Line Programme (GLP), funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, focuses on reducing the limitations of women regarding their economic resources in order to increase their access to health services, especially those related to their sexual and reproductive health rights.

As part of this programme, HFFG is expected to form 75 Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA) in 15 communities in the project areas to help women overcome financial barriers that make them prone to sexual and gender-based violence. The Associations will also be used as platforms to provide sexual and reproductive health education and livelihood skills to women. The concept has also been endorsed by traditional leaders in the project areas.

VSLA groups are common modes of improving communities’ livelihoods as they promote a saving culture among project participants and offer soft loans that boost the economic initiatives of members. In fact, one of these groups formed under the Golden Line Programme is the Obaatanpa (Good Mother) VSLA group in Abreshia in the Wassa Amenfi East district.

Barikisu Abugri: Obaatanpa Village Savings and Loans Association

22-year old Barikisu Abugri is a mother of one and an executive member of the Obaatanpa VSLA group. She dropped out of school in Form One at the junior high school level. She is happy about the existence of the group in her community though she wished her family knew about it when she was much younger.

Barikisu shares:

I dropped out of school because my family could no longer afford the costs that came with my education. If a group like this existed in my village, I am sure my mother would have ensured that I stayed in school with the small loans she would have received.

Barikisu has committed to ensure that her daughter stays in school longer than she did and she believes the VLSA will greatly support her in this quest. Young women like Barikisu are increasingly owning decision-making power within their households and showcase that they can make informed decisions about their health due to this growing financial strength.

The Founder and Executive Director of Hope for Future Generations (HFFG), Mrs. Cecilia Lodonu-Senoo, has been  honoured with an award for her unwavering passion for upholding the rights and well-being of the vulnerable, especially women and children in Ghana.

Mrs. Cecilia Senoo was presented with an honorary award at the maiden Humanitarian Awards Ghana (HAG), an event held at Labadi Beach Hotel in Accra on 3rd October, 2020.

Speaking at the event on the theme “Celebrating Change Makers,” the special Guest of Honour, Francisca Duncan Williams said the Humanitarian Awards Ghana seeks to identify, honour and celebrate a cross-section of the nation’s (Ghana) extraordinary individuals and groups who are positively impacting the lives of people, nature and society.

“We believe that in putting the spotlight on these humanitarian efforts, it will not only celebrate them but help build a strong platform for them by giving voice and opportunities to the next generation of industry pacesetters while building a positive attitude,” said the event organizers.

Commenting on the award, Mrs. Cecilia Senoo dedicated the award to the hundreds of beneficiaries, donor partners and national stakeholders, HFFG Staff and volunteers who have worked with the organization since its inception in 2001.

Other change-makers honoured at the event were Professor Kofi Agyekum of the School of Performing Arts (SPA) University of Ghana, and renowned broadcaster, Oheneyere Gifty Anti of GDA Media.

Hope for Future Generations is a national community based, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization that has over the past 19 years, been at the forefront of various community interventions aimed at realizing a nation free of discrimination where women, children and young people have equal opportunities to develop their full potential.

Since 2001, HFFG under the leadership of Mrs. Cecilia Senoo has positively impacted the lives of over 2,000,000 women, children and young people including those living with disabilities and HIV across the 16 Regions of Ghana through various interventions like: Primary Health Care, governance and institutional effectiveness, Water, Hygiene and Sanitation, economic empowerment and sustainable livelihoods.

Since 2016, HFFG has reached over 22,000 young people including those living with HIV, with comprehensive SRHR information at the community level to ensure that they fully enjoy their Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and stand up against harmful practices like child marriage, rape, Gender based violence and other cultural norms that affect young people and women.

Through the WAPCAS/Global Fund NFM II project, HFFG has mobilized 350 young persons living with HIV across Ghana, and is empowering them to adhere to their treatment, voice out their concerns and advocate to be included in the decision-making process at all levels. Members of the group have also been empowered with entrepreneurial skills to enable them generate income for their up keep.

In the Western Region of Ghana, HFFG being one of the local implementing NGOs on the Golden Line Programme has supported four hundred and nine (409) women in 8 programme communities to benefit from soft loans at an interest rate of 10%  through Village Savings & Loans Associations (VSLAs). As a result of the Golden Line Programme, some women have started new businesses like provision/grocery shops, local chop bars, drinking spots, pastries, soap and beads making among others while others have improved on their old businesses.

Mrs. Senoo is skilled in national and international advocacy, gender programming and has over 25 years expertise in NGO management, Social and Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC) strategies and interventions, psychosocial counselling, HIV and AIDS programming, Competency-Based Trainings, Participatory Learning for Action with strong advocacy skills, project development and implementation.

She was the first woman to Chair the Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) of the Global Fund. In this capacity, Mrs. Senoo led the HIV, Malaria and TB response in Ghana with the support of the CCM Secretariat and members. She still plays key roles in the CCM and in the response in the 3 disease areas (HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria)Mrs. Senoo is a Board member of the National Population Council and also a Technical Advisor of Society for Women and AIDS in Africa (SWAA).

HFFG is the current convener of Goal 5 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) CSO sub-platform, coordinating the collective action of NGOs promoting gender equality together, with the National Development Planning Commission to achieve the SDG 2030 Goal 5 target.

She is a member of Global Fund Advocacy Network (GFAN) Africa and a focal person for WACI Health in Ghana.

Over the years, Hope for Future Generations (HFFG) has implemented multiple projects that have impacted the lives of women, children, and young people, provided through funding from national and international organisations. Since 2006, one of HFFG’s most loyal and long-standing donors is Simavi, a Netherlands-based non-governmental organisation.

Simavi has funded projects such as the Child Survival and Access, Services and Knowledge (ASK) projects. Current projects they are funding include the Get Up, Speak Out (GUSO), Going for Gold and Watershed projects. Through projects like ASK and GUSO, thousands of adolescents in Ghana have received accurate Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) information and services and understand their SRH rights.

Addressing Royalty

In vein of this long-standing relationship, Cecilia Senoo, Founder and Executive Director of HFFG, addressed Queen Beatrix of the Royal Dutch Family at an event to commemorate the official opening of Simavi’s new office. She enumerated the diverse achievements and lives that have been transformed in the Central Region of Ghana through projects funded by Simavi and critical engagements with traditional leaders, particularly queen mothers.

One of these achievements is the Child Survival Project where before Simavi’s intervention, HFFG built a community clinic in Ekrowfo (the Esakyir district) and then handed over the facility to the Ghana Health Service. The Simavi project funds supported the organisation to stock the clinic with kits and equipment that have contributed immensely to health service delivery for community members.

About Simavi

Simavi was founded in 1925 by two medical doctors, Dr. John. Van der Spek and Dr. H. Bervoets with the aim to provide medical assistance for health institutions in the former Dutch East Indies. The name Simavi is an acronym for ‘Steun Inzake Medische Aangelegenheden Voor Inheemschen’ which is the Dutch translation for ‘Support for Medical Affairs for Indonesians’.

Hope for Future Generations (HFFG) is a local implementing partner of Simavi for WaterShed – a 5-year project aimed at strengthening the capacity of civil society organisations to make clear demands for improved and integrated sustainable Water Resources Management (WRM) and Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) services at the local level.

A major expected outcome of the project, currently being implemented in the Tarkwa Nsuaem in the Western Region, is to collect relevant and timely data from government authorities to increase social accountability toward citizens. This informs the need to establish and train community advocates who will be empowered to engage stakeholders at all levels and gather evidence on deficits in WASH service delivery and WASH/Integrated WRM issues.

The role of HFFG is to generate data through social accountability. This data is shared with the municipal assembly who will build synergy and support in development of WASH and IWRM plans for the Government’s Medium-Term Development Plan. This information will also be stepped up at the national level through the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) and media networks, better informing policy and government budget allocation practices.

The key partner on this project is the government through the Tarkwa Municipal Assembly, Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) and Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorates.

Based on this partnership and a long-standing relationship between HFFG and Simavi, Timothy Sutton, the Senior WASH Programme Officer of Simavi in the Netherlands, paid a visit to our head office in Accra where the project plan and progress were shared with him by staff of the organisation.

Nineteen (19) year old Paulina Agyei was included as one of more than 30 young people trained as an advocate with HFFG’s Ghana Adolescents Reproductive Health (GHARH) project. Before this, she was trained as a peer educator on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) issues and referred other young people to health facilities for counselling and welbeing services when there arised a need.

Recently, Paulina was invited to represent young people in the Atwima Kwanwoma district in the Ashanti Region on a critical district decision-making platform. This meeting comprised decision-makers such as the District Chief Executive, District Health Director, District Girls Education Officer, religious and traditional leaders among other community influencers, to agree on proposed by-laws to protect young people from various forms of abuse.

The by-laws execute particular sanctions for perpetrators. One consequence details that teachers who impregnate school girls will pay three (3) years of the student survivor’s school fees. The girls will be encouraged to go back to school and also receive comprehensive health support to do so.

Paulina believes that this experience to impact the futures of other girls and young women through this decision-making platform is, indeed, a rich experience. She is willing to improve the relationships she is establishing with these stakeholders to create a conducive environment for young people in the district to thrive.