Former Street Resident, Rebecca Coffie, Shares Her Story About Finding Hope When She Encountered Future Of Africa
Rebecca was born in the village of Addeiso, in the Eastern region of Ghana to loving parents, but as a young child her mother sadly died and her father moved to Nigeria to find work. Rebecca stayed in Ghana to be raised by her grandmother, but she also unfortunately passed away soon after. Rebecca then moved to Nigeria to live with her father and stepmother. One day, she was sent to run an errand and got lost on the way home. She was picked up by local authorities who tragically could not find her father or stepmother, and so she was placed in a children’s home run by the Ghanaian Embassy. After a number of years, her father could still not be located so she was transferred to a children’s home back in her home country of Ghana. By this time she was a young teenager. She found it hard to settle into her new environment and was compelled to run away with another girl from the children’s home.
Rebecca, then a young teenager, soon found herself on the streets in an area of Accra where many children and teenagers dwelled. An older woman took favourably to her and gave her shelter in her kiosk, and food in exchange for her selling water sachets on the roadside to people in passing tro tros and cars. She did not make a lot of money but was able to survive for a few months with the help of the woman.
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I did not like staying at the children's home. I could not eat the food and we were always confined to a small space. This made me follow my peers to run from the home.
After some time living this way, she met a man called TK who was helping the street children in the area through Future of Africa (FOA). He sat with her and asked her what she wanted to do with her life. She said she wanted to learn a trade. TK met the old woman she was living with and made arrangements for Rebecca to begin attending school at Hope Training Institute in Accra. Rebecca moved to the school and began to learn hairdressing. She was happy for some time, but after being so mobile on the streets she found it hard to be in one place, confined by the routines and structures around her. Something inside her told her to run away, so she ran back to the streets.
Once back, an older girl called Ama began to groom her and show her how to live on the streets. Ama gave her marijuana to sell to the older boys on the streets and some of them paid her to have sex with them. Rebecca was learning how to fend for herself and have enough money to buy food to eat. As the months passed by, she began to regret leaving the safety of the school and the opportunities she had there.
One night TK found her again, as he had come searching for her in the bush area behind the streets. He was overjoyed to find her and both cried when they saw each other. TK took her back to the school where she settled back into learning again. Although she was so glad to be back in school, she could not shake the experiences on the streets from her mind, and found it difficult to commit to the school schedule. She had heard she could earn more money in another area of Accra, so one night she ran away again and went to this area.
Upon arriving, she met an older girl who offered to take her to the village she was from and give her work. Rebecca accepted and they travelled to the Eastern Region together. However, the older girl’s intentions were to force herself on Rebecca, and when Rebecca resisted the girl bit her on her back so hard that she tore her flesh. Rebecca was taken to a local hospital to have the wound stitched up. The chief of the village was incredibly angry with the older girl, but the girl’s mother pleaded with police not to arrest her. In the end, an arrangement was made for Rebecca to go to Tema to find work with the girl’s sister and the matter was closed.
I made friends easily on the streets because I am very friendly. They taught me how to survive on the streets and engage in bad things.
Rebecca was given enough money to take a bus to Tema, where she was met by the girl’s sister and given accommodation with a woman called Christie. Christie arranged her a job in a hair-making factory, where she earned around 10 cedis a day (1.5 dollars) and gave this directly to Christie. Christie also arranged for Rebecca to sleep with men in the local area for a fee. Christie personally collected this fee herself and gave Rebecca just enough money to eat and drink. Rebecca was not allowed out of the house except to go to work. She began remembering better days from the past when she was under the care of FOA. At work, she asked someone to search for FOA on the internet, and to her delight they found the website and telephone number. She called the line and made connections with the FOA team.
Soon after, Christie travelled out of town and Rebecca was left under the watchful eye of a neighbour. The neighbour was called into work one night and Rebecca saw her opportunity to escape. Rebecca had been collecting the small amount of money Christie had been giving her for food and had enough to get a bus to Accra. Once she arrived in Accra she did not know which way to go, and was stopped by a police officer. She explained where she was trying to get to and the police officer took her in his car and they drove around until finally they found the FOA community centre. Rebecca and the team at FOA were overjoyed to see each other again, and Rebecca felt happy to be safe. Once again, they asked Rebecca what she wanted to do and she said she wanted to continue her hairdressing training. Her previous school was unable to take her back due to her running away, but she was able to enrol at Street Girls Aid.
Rebecca has continued with her training and is happy with how things are going. She is able to live and learn at her school from Monday to Friday, and then she spends time at the FOA community centre on the weekends.
I was so happy when Future of Africa accepted me again. I felt back at home. Now there is hope to attain my future ambitions.
She recently graduated and wants to go on to expand her training into being a beautician. She is happy to be back under the care of FOA and is delighted to once again have hope for her future.
It was my absolute privilege to meet and interview Rebecca. I could not help but see that in her darkest moments a way out kept appearing for her, and I knew it was because God never left her side. I felt such an incredible sense of God’s hand on her life, calling her into a new and bright future. Hearing what TK and FOA have done and continue to do in supporting her made my heart swell with gladness. Rebecca has the most beautiful radiant smile, and a newfound joy shines through her. I know God has incredible plans for her life.
- Story by Becci Tamaklo
I see Future of Africa as a blessing. They have restored my hope for a brighter future. I see myself as a big girl now. When I earn more money, I will donate to Future of Africa.