Kiddies’ Corner in Accra
By Renee Sigel.
Kiddies corner in Accra
sounds like the title of a popular
children’s TV show; something one could happily watch with toddlers
on a Saturday morning, learning ABC songs about foreign and faraway
places. It sounds as it always does: a freely expressive haven of
For most of us it would be hard to imagine it could be anything
else, unless one has encountered iPeace
, one very remarkable English grandmother. Her creation is
this special Kids’ Corner, which is very much an oasis for the
imagination of children, yet it as far from the magical illusion of
television as it can get. Accra, for those who may not be aware, is
the Capital of Ghana. Its setting is among the most beautiful of
African landscapes and it is home to some of life’s harshest
realities, especially for its children.
Her story is exemplary of remarkable strength, fortitude and
courage in the face of the worst kind of personal tragedy and she
is a lesson to each of us.
A car accident left her critically injured and cost the lives of
her two sons and her foster child. She spent a very long time
recovering both mentally and physically.
Eventually she decided to fulfill a lifetime's dream to travel to
Ghana and do something to help the children there. She arrived in
February 2006 as a volunteer teacher with the intention of staying
for six weeks. Discovering the appalling conditions in which the
children learn, i.e. almost no books at school or home, no exercise
books or paper, often even forced into sharing a pen, she decided
to return and open an Educational Centre and Library. She was back
two months later and has been running the Child Development Project
- Ghana in Hohoe, in the Volta Region, ever since. (www.cdp-ghana.com
She and those who work there affectionately call the Centre
'. It is a remarkable oasis for the 3,000
local village children who lead very difficult lives. Some are too
poor to go to school. They often are forced to have to work from 5
a.m. - 9 p.m. to help support their families. At the Centre they
are assured of a kind word, a book to read, paper and coloured
pencils for a few minutes relaxation, before going back to on the
street; selling old clothes or fruit, just so they earn barely
enough to fed themselves.
Children are raised under severe conditions and are seldom praised,
mostly reprimanded and treated abusively by parents so as not to
encourage ‘idleness’. They are unaccustomed to encouragement and
open displays of approval and affection. The centre provides a
cherished respite from the harsh routine of their day. At the
Centre, they relish educational, sporting and recreational
materials and facilities. Equally important, the centre is a
sanctuary where children come to learn in a peaceful, friendly,
supportive and relaxed environment.
’ has now flourished and grown into the main
focal point of the children of Hohoe, with a membership of over
3,500 children, aged from 5 - 16, who regularly visit our
after-school Education Centre.The Centre houses a library of
second-hand books donated from the U.K. and also provides
educational games, toys and puzzles.
Saturday mornings are dedicated to sports and games: footballs,
sports clothing and boots, as well as skipping ropes, basketball
facilities are their simple treasures. Other weekend favourites
include drawing, writing, spelling and dancing competitions.