This is Madam Raminatu. She was married to a ‘wealthy’ man with a daughter. She was thrown out of her home because she’s believed to be a witch; the reason for her husband’s failure in business. She’s been separated from her daughter too.
Where she is seated outside at Taifa, Accra, has been her home for more than two months. She sleeps outside facing the harsh weather conditions. What makes it worse is that the people in the neighborhood have bought into the idea that she’s a witch, a god or demon who can destroy their fortune. They therefore treat her so badly.
Then we met the family of heroes, Pearl and her son who are the only ones who care for her by giving her food to eat everyday. Her husband has been against it convincing people she’ll destroy the work of their hands if they help her. In the face of this, Pearl and her family have always been there.
This story got to the @voiicecommunity and we decided to raise some funds for her as soon as we could and to giving voice to her story on film(showing soon on the voiice Network) to create awareness and also to get some help for Raminatu. The first thing she needs the most is psychiatric help and then a shelter since she has nobody to turn to.
We visited the St. Aquinas High School to teach them about channeling their passion into profession. Guiding them on how to effectively become online entrepreneurs and make an impact on society doing that.
Making young people realize how possible it is to be self-reliant, independent and economically stable despite the bad economy and lack of jobs that exist in Ghana.
Building the VOIICE community in that school was indeed an awesome experience.
BUILDING PROJECT FOR WITCH CAMP INMATES
In the Northern part of Ghana, elderly women are accused of witchcraft and banished from their communities since the 18th century. They have no choice but to live in poor, squalid conditions and are deserted by their communities, left to survive on their own in spite of their age.
This story has drawn attention of many, including us. The dire situation of these women brought to our mind many pressing questions;
● Why is this happening? Is there no help?
● Shouldn’t this have ended by now?
● What have all the foundations that have visited the site done?
● With all the international recognition and awareness, why can’t this end?
To investigate, we did extensive research on the subject. Yet still, many questions remained unanswered.
A Foundation in Ghana called the Voice Of Inspiring Inclusive Change Equitably (VOIICE) which fights against gender based violence and its related mental health issues through awareness creation and support, in collaboration with two production firms namely; Buquist Entertainment and Kente Entertainment, launched a documentary project entitled, “Fear of the unknown” on the matter, hoping to get some answers.
During a visit to the Witch Camp, located in Gambaga in Ghana’s Northern Region, we observed a number of things that sent a shiver down our spines. As we inquired about the place, one of the first things we were told by the caretaker was that, many individuals and organizations have visited the camp but they usually do not convey the truth when they make their reports. He told us that they tend to put out a skewed version of the story and not the entire truth. With that statement, many questions were already answered.
At the time of our visit, there were 82 elderly women and 1 elderly man living as inmates of the camp. What surprised us even more was that, there were as many as 32 children at the camp as well. Alongside the tiny huts and pieces of sticks that cluttered the place, we could also see small toilet structures with the names of organizations on them and another building was built as a workshop by another organization. But visiting the huts themselves, seeing where they lived told an entirely different story. The spaces were so tiny that one could barely stand up straight in them. They were extremely dark with no windows, and the floor was where they slept. Even though the huts were relatively cooler than outside, the extreme heat inside the huts didn’t allow us to stay in them very long. As we hoped to wait for the children to return from school, we wondered how their nights were at the camp.
So a new question emerged, “Why is every source of help to these women seemingly structured to keep them in that same deplorable space?” “Could it be lack of funds or lack of concern for these human beings?” We hoped to get answers to all the questions before we left the place.
Unlike popular myths told about these camps, portraying the inhabitants as “witches”, they are actually a safe haven for these women and most of them, despite their deplorable conditions view the camp as ‘heaven’ compared to the ‘hell’ that awaits them in their communities for their witchcraft allegations.
These women are usually widows, poor and mentally ill; just the right indicator of witchcraft, according to their communities. The most infuriating and silenced issue is that, the pain of these women is taken advantage of by some of the followers of the traditional leaders in the community. After going through the rites of passage into the camp which involves a token of money, some of the people from the Palace and elsewhere, without the knowledge of the chief, try to extort money from visitors even after donations have been made to the inmates.
This is sad and needs to end. We believe that raising a proper structure for these women will not only give them better livelihood but will eradicate the stigma against poor, old, widowed and mentally ill women in the community.
Raising a proper structure will only be the beginning of the help that will end this dire phenomenon that has been glorified since the 18th century. Be a part of this life altering change in history by donating as little as you can to this cause.
We just started a gofundme page you can support here.