When Amina was 5-years old she her father sent to her aunt’s house to live with her and help around the household. It is quite common in Northern Ghana for families to send their daughters to a relative’s house, especially if that relative has a lot of sons. This way, the daughter can help with the household chores. If she is lucky, her new family will send her to school. Amina was not so lucky, no one in her aunt’s house was educated. She was married at 20 but she doesn’t know how old she is now.
Now that Amina’s children have grown up she has decided she wants to improve her life. She works hard in her literacy classes to improve her skills. In the sessions we ran with International Service and NFED (non-formal education division), Amina was always the first to volunteer. She has a thirst for learning and a strong desire to improve her situation.
Amina explained to me why she wants to educate herself: “sometimes you can go to some place and they write Dagbani [the local dialect] for you and you don’t know what it means. So I decided to join the literacy classes so that any time or whenever they write something I can understand it.”
Amina hopes that by learning literacy she can gain knowledge and have more freedom, she will not have to rely on others to read for her or help her do simple tasks. She also hopes that by learning basic skill shse will be able to make more money in her Shea butter producing business. Amina has recently joined a cooperative (a small business model which unifies people of the same trade and helps them spead risk and maximise on profit) in her village and is an eager business women. Some cooperatives in the region have been very successful, with one called Tungteiya Women’s Shea Butter Association even supplying The Body Shop. This cooperative employs over 500 women across 11 villages in the Northern Region and is an example of the lucrative potential of cooperatives in the area.