The Best “Gift” in Life is a Second Chance

By Nancy Ansah – Micro-Credit Assistant Program Officer

Meet Gifty, a 22-year-old woman from Ghana. When she was just 12 years old, financial hardship led her parents to send Gifty to live with her grandmother in Kwadaso, a suburb of Kumasi, Ghana. Though Gifty was initially enrolled in a local public school, her grandmother wasn’t able to earn enough selling charcoal to keep Gifty in school.

Gifty with her two children, Stella (5 years old) and Joshua (4 years old)

“Our poor financial state cost me my education.  For two years, my grandmother was unable to provide for my education and I spent that whole time out of school,” Gifty said.

“I wanted to go back to school so much that I accepted a proposal from an elderly man.  He promised to support me through my education,” Gifty said. “Unfortunately, during my first year of junior high school at the age of 17, I got pregnant.  I was heartbroken because I knew that my education had come to an end. I felt ashamed and lacked parental guidance, so I stopped going to school.”

Not Alone

Gifty is not alone in her struggles.  Many teenage girls in rural Ghana are currently facing challenges very similar to the ones Gifty experienced when she was 17.  They all want to succeed and advance academically, but poverty and an absence of parental support stifle their dreams.

“After I had my first baby, my grandmother accommodated me and my little girl for some time,” Gifty said.  “However, she eventually pushed us to go live with the father of my baby, Gilbert, who was a carpenter.”

“Exactly six months after I moved in with Gilbert, I got pregnant again.  Life became unbearable for us. I was unemployed and Gilbert earned very little from his job,” Gifty said.  “On days he didn’t get money, we went without food. I finally had to contact my family in Adankwame. Thankfully my mother’s response was heartwarming. She quickly asked me and my babies to live with her.”

A Second Chance

“I could not bear to see my daughter in so much pain and distress,” Gifty’s mother, Lamisi, said.  Lamisi is currently part of Self-Help’s micro-credit program in Adankwame, where she runs a business selling onions and makes ‘kenkey’ [a local fermented corn dish] for sale on special occasions. 

“I wanted to send Gifty back to school, but there were too many mouths to feed,” said Lamisi, a mother of seven herself.  “Instead, I introduced Gifty to my food business and she is doing very well! I also introduced her to the micro-credit program because I knew it could help her get back on her own feet again.”

The shop where Gifty does her seamstress apprenticeship

Gifty learned basic business skills and financial management from Self-Help and then was able to access her first micro-loan to start a business of her own and generate income to support her children, five-year-old Stella and four-year-old Joshua.   

“After two years of participating in the Self-Help International micro-credit program, I have been able to enroll my children into a private school and I am learning dressmaking,” Gifty said.

“Unlike many other apprentices, I have been able to purchase a sewing machine with a micro-loan and savings from my food business,” Gifty said.  “My goal is to purchase a chest freezer with my next loan. That will enable me to sell drinks and ice cubes to my community.”

A Brighter Future

Gifty with her two children and her mother, Lamisi

Gifty says that though she has little free time between caring for the kids, working as a food vendor and serving as an apprentice, she will never give up. She feels that she has been given a second chance and is using it to the best of her ability. She is very thankful for the financial support and guidance from Self-Help.

“Thank you to the supporters who have made it possible for me to have a reason to strive for greater things in life,” Gifty concluded, smiling amidst her tears. “I think that I will eventually make enough money to take care of my two children, concentrate on my seamstress apprenticeship, and have some peace of mind.”