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Children and single mothers come first

Adviser Kwaku Yeboah at the Ghanaian-European Centre for Jobs, Migration and Development in Accra provides families with information about where they can get help.

Children and single mothers come first

Kwaku Yeboah is a counsellor at the Ghanaian-European Centre for Jobs, Migration and Development (GEC) in Accra. In this interview, he talks about how the GEC team supports families who have returned to Ghana.

What services do you offer for returnees?

We provide general counselling, support people to reintegrate into everyday life in the country, advise them on their career choices and arrange jobs. Through our services, we support the Ghanaian Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations in addressing the issue of migration and employment.

You advise not only individual returnees, but also families who have returned. What is your particular focus?

Family returnees are people who do not come back to Ghana alone, but with a partner and/or children. Therefore, the cases of family returnees are always special because you have to take care of the needs of a whole family, not just one person.

Kwaku Yeboah and his team spend a great deal of time helping women and children in need.

We offer emergency shelter, but also medical, economic and psychosocial support. Families often need a little more support. Children of school age need to go to school. That is why we support them with a one-time payment of school fees. A returned family that has health problems receives emergency medical aid. The children are always our top priority, because of the support they need in order to settle into their new environment.

What exactly does support mean?

We support people and their skills. Some already know how to do something, such as seamstresses and caterers. We help them revive their skills and make something out of them if they want to.

We also offer psychosocial support for families, especially those with children. Many of them were not born here. The children have no circle of friends and no family support. They only have their father and mother. In this case, we call in counsellors to help them find their way in the new situation.

What challenges do you encounter when you want to support families?

Mostly it is about livelihoods. I remember a case in Kumasi: a woman came with four children. The children were three, five and six years old, one was still a baby. This woman came alone, without a husband. You can imagine the stress and pressure she is going through. We pay special attention to such people by bringing in a psychologist and quickly finding family support that is tailored to them.

We offer follow-ups and meetings for all returnees. We want to see how they are doing after they have been back in the country for a while.

Does the centre cooperate with other organisations to support returnees?

Yes, we also refer to partner organisations. For example, during the pandemic outbreak in 2020, we referred some returnees - including families - to government agencies. These include the National Disaster Management Organisation, for example, which in particular supported families in need.

Do you also support the local population?

Our services are not limited to returnees, but also benefit potential migrants. These are people who are considering leaving Ghana.

We offer community-based support services targeted at groups. A group of four young people can come together to do a community-based project. And we then support that project. Projects include gari (local food) processing, soap making and cattle rearing.

So we support individuals, but also groups. Families who want to join a group can also benefit from the community-based projects.

With what questions and issues do people turn to the GEC?

Some parents call almost every time at the end of the school year. They have no money for their children's school fees, school uniforms or books. Sometimes it is because the parents have problems and do not earn money yet. We support them according to their needs. But we cannot distribute the funds we have to just one person. We give as much support as we can. We also try to encourage them to focus on what they can do to obtain an income.

The advice and services offered by the Ghanaian-European Centre for Jobs, Migration and Development is free of charge.

How much do the GEC services cost?

Our services and consultations are free of charge.

How gender-sensitive are your programmes for families?

We always strive for gender balance in all our programmes, especially in community-based projects. We believe that women can manage some of the community projects better. This is because women in particular are often excellent managers. So we like to hand them the management of local projects in their communities. This often has to do with the fact that they can also manage their families at home, i.e. they are good organisers. There is the project in Berekum, for example: women make soap, market the products and make sure that the local economy runs well. The centre offers more opportunities for women.

As of: 07/2023

The language of this interview has been simplified. We want to be sure that it’s easy for everyone to understand. We would like to thank Mr Yeboah for agreeing to use this unfamiliar language level.

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