HOPE AT THE BRINK OF HOPELESSNESS
by Victor Mawusi Ayi
Buduburam is a settlement in the central region of Ghana. It maintains a continuity with other towns along the stretch which opens into the capital city, Accra, located about 44 kilometres to the east. While its proximity to the capital is appealing for a location, it is rather famous for its breadth of hospitability. It is the largest refugee settlement in Ghana and provides a home for over 30,000 people. Buduburam was a positive reaction in 1990 by UNHCR, to the Liberian civil war and the subsequent arrival of survivors in Ghana, to ease away their memories of brutality and loss, in safety. Consequently, Buduburam is a buzz with a mix of lifestyles dominated by Liberian and Ghanaian.
Shelter and food are basic needs, but they are only part of the requirements for sustenance. Even though relief agencies provide support to sustain lives of beneficiaries, other deprivations mar the outlook of the Buduburam project. It is unfortunate to recognize that education is an alienation for a significant number of children in this locale. Parental neglect, parental loss, lack of resources and facilities, complicate this sad situation. The health burden is obviously worse, with health seeking behaviour limited by ignorance, financial constraints, and lack of resources and facilities.
At the heart of this humanitarian settlement, and out of this abyss of hopelessness from the prevailing situation, a charity innovation emerged. Future stars is a non-governmental organization, which was established in January 2010, and leverages reachable resources to house and school underprivileged children. While it appears as a story to just admire, this charity thrives beyond its control, on a sustainability which is shaking. It has had, and continues to have its fair share of struggles. It provides shelter and schooling for its beneficiaries in rented apartments. It also depends on volunteers to complement its limited staff, which strive to combine the roles of guardians, caregivers and teachers each day. At the brink of bowing to challenges, this facility continues to welcome and empower children from kindergarten to grade six. The current lack of facilities for grades seven through nine, adds an extra responsibility of sponsoring qualifying wards in other schools. The health burden is complicated. It relies on volunteer healthcare professionals to provide screenings and other modalities of primary care. However, the lack of adequate housing and feeding facilities creates an obstacle. Volunteers are further burdened with the cost of accommodation and feeding, if they have to spend the night. This is potentially deterring for willing volunteers who are unable to manage the extra financial burden. Interestingly, the stakeholders keep their drive for humanitarianism awakened in another project, an advocacy for the elimination of child trafficking, which hinges on awareness creation and public education.
The touching part of the Future Stars story lies with the stakeholders’ undying drive for sustainability and expansion, to facilitate increased admissions and better living conditions for wards. This dream lingers, as the building project and plans for additional staff and resources cannot be realised due to lack of funds and support. Consequently, the future of 35 children currently being housed, out of the total of 135 being schooled, and many more children whose lives could be changed, dangles at the mercy of benevolent patrons. To help Future Stars in their endeavours to change the fate of these underprivileged children, you can visit their site and contribute using their Donate section. With $5, you can provide a child with educational material for a year. With $10, you can provide a child three meals a day, for one week. With $250, you can provide housing for the orphanage children for three months. With $500, you can sponsor twenty children in high school. The donations are accepted through PayPal, but you don't have to create a PayPal account; their payment system allows you to use your debit or credit card.