My name is Kim and I worked for Youth Alive in 2006/2007 for ten months. In that time I got to know Youth Alive and I started to love this place. I was here for my internship of social work and I worked with the children at Tizaa trying to teach them the social skills they’ll need in life.
Let me first tell something about the work Youth Alive was doing at that time. Youth Alive is an organisation that has a heart for the children forced to live on the street. They take care of these children by providing them an education. This can mean that they help the children attend school or, when the child is too old for school, help them learn a job. Before the children are sent to school they attend a one-year class at Tizaa; the building of Youth Alive. There the children are taught the basics of English and Mathematics and beside that the children learn how to behave in a classroom, which is already difficult for a lot of children. The youngsters aren’t used to sitting still during the day to pay attention to the teacher. They are used to hanging around on the street and maybe selling some ‘pure water’ or other stuff to earn some money to buy their dinner.
Therefore the first year of school at Tizaa is very important for them. At the time I started working here in September 2006 there were about 15 children who were new to Youth Alive. When the children come here they hardly speak any English so in the beginning it is difficult to communicate. But with using your hands together with simple words of English you will manage to teach them small things at a time. Besides that there is a teacher where you can go to for help.
In the year I was working for Youth Alive I started to do activities with the children during their break time and in the afternoons. The activities I was doing were not difficult, just drawing with them, playing tag games and other stuff, but I used those activities to teach them to share the pencils, to work together during the games, to make teams and be loyal: all things they will need when they are grown up and in a workplace.
Other volunteers who were working here helped the teacher in the class or gave private lessons by picking one or two children out of class to help them learn the basics. The children loved it!
This year, in 2010, I came back to Youth Alive to see how they are doing. I am really happy to see that there is still a big heart here for the street children. The people are working really hard to help the children to build a future for themselves. And they can always use some extra hands to help. So if you are interested in teaching the children English or Mathematics, to play games with the children, to help raise funds or any other activity to help Youth Alive, then please contact them: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jenn volunteered with Youth Alive from Jan to April 2010 as part of her development studies degree.
The most striking thing about Youth Alive is its passion. I have yet to meet an organisation in northern Ghana that holds the same fiery passion for the young people it serves, the same dedication and the same comprehension of the complex and sometimes stifling problem of streetism. Poverty is a complex and interrelated issue – it is something that eats right into the heart of a nation, stealing food from tables and futures from children. And it is cyclical – difficult to get out of and stay out of. Without consistent, caring support it is almost impossible. Youth Alive exists to be that support and its programs are designed to address not only the surface issues of poverty and streetism but to get right down to the heart of it, providing a future for children and youth of the streets and on the streets, not only through education and training but also through the compassionate and consistent guiding hand of leadership and supportive care.
In my time with Youth Alive I was able to gain a deep understanding of the issues and culture of northern Ghana, as well as hands-on engagement with the youth. The classrooms were flooded with kids who were eager to learn, eager to know you, eager to have a hope for the future. Youth Alive has a very comprehensive and articulate program, and duties included both helping out with the kids and some administrative work. The staff are hugely supportive, passionate and open to new ideas. Their main focus is to support their beneficiaries consistently and totally through education and training, as well as their families so dependence is kept in the home. Their objective is to offer as much support as possible, so, in addition to administrative and organisational maintenance, they provide opportunities to offer after school classes, clubs and groups, specialized programming and other supports where staff and volunteers are available. Volunteers are free to come with their skills, gifts and abilities, and Youth Alive is very flexible and willing to provide everything they can for their kids.
With Youth Alive’s heart for the kids it is serving, there is always an open willingness to receive compassionate hands that can give. Both local and foreign volunteers are welcome to participate in a life changing experience for both the youth and themselves.
I spent my third year of University in Ghana, West Africa. I had the opportunity to spend a semester working with Youth Alive. I feel blessed to have worked with this organisation because of the compassion they show towards street children. I like their ideology of taking young children off the streets and giving them the opportunity to learn and grow through schooling and trades. This approach helps to prepare them for a promising future.
My time at Youth Alive was spent in the junior classroom where children were introduced to basic English and Mathematics in an informal school setting. My fondest memories are of their smiles, affection, and devotion to learn as much as they could while they were attending my class. I will always remember the Math competitions we would have and how well they always wanted to do. I remember telling and reading them stories that they loved to hear. Sometimes it seemed like they never wanted to leave my side, they just craved so much attention and love.
While working at Youth Alive, I was fortunate to play soccer (football) with a Youth Alive sponsored team called the Tamale Queens. It was an amazing experience being able to connect with these girls through the game of soccer. I really enjoyed my time training and playing with the girls’ team. I also had some supportive fans from my class at Youth Alive who would follow me daily to the Tamale Stadium.
Great change, since I came to Tizaa.
Great change, since I came to Tizaa.
Great change, since I came to Tizaa.
It’s been a great change since I came here.
The truck I use to push, I push it no more.
The seeds I use to pick, I pick them no more.
The shoe shine I used to do, I do it no more.
I truly believe that this is the heart of Youth Alive, taking young children off of the streets and putting them into a positive environment that enables them to prepare for a brighter future.
Dominique Chadwick talks about her experiences of Youth Alive.
I first encountered Youth Alive in June 1999, while filming in Tamale. Right from the start, I was struck by the dedication of its staff who, without patronising the children, give them the love, care and respect that they so desperately need. Over the years I have had the opportunity to go back regularily to Tamale and witness the amazing achievements of Youth Alive, against all odds and often with limited resources. I had a chance to meet many successful young people supported by Youth Alive who have been trained into various trades such as carpentry, welding, electronics, hairdressing, weaving and dressmaking.
On my last visit to Youth Alive, I also met Ernestina and Patricia , two young women supported by Youth Alive and now both in their first year of development studies at Wa University. They are determined to go back to their communities when they finish their studies to help with their development. They have now become true advocates against streetism. This amazing life transformation from the street to the university is a credit to the work of Youth Alive who should get all the support that it deserves.
By supporting one child you can be sure to transform the lives of many others and help break the cycle of poverty. I have seen it and it works!