The Faith, Hope and Love (FHL) Group in collaboration with SheDecides Ghana, undertook the Community Canvas Project in Chorkor at the Extra O school park with the aim of using art for social change.
The Faith, Hope and Love (FHL) Group which is an NGO focused on increasing access to reproductive health info and services, and capacity building for young people in underserved communities and She decides Ghana being a movement which advocates for a world where every girl and woman can decide what to do with her body, with her life and with her future. Without question – collaborated on this project in involving the community to create change through arts.
FHL Group founder, Ms. Naa-Amy Wayne, a S.T.E.A.M (STEM & Art) advocate who has received training in Artistic Activism birthed this idea. Coincidentally, the Greater Accra Region is perhaps the “most artistic region” in recent times considering the Chale Wrote Street Art festival and the number of murals in and around town hence the choice to start in Accra.
The project strategy carried out a community survey and engaged with the inhabitants to find the social vices that plagued the youth. A community survey of over 100 inhabitants revealed that teenage pregnancy and drug abuse were the main problems in the society and based on the results of the survey, a focus group discussion was held to come up with solutions which fed into the blueprint for the mural. This occurred concurrently with the search for a wall to serve as a canvas on which the mural will be painted as well as for a local artist to lead the painting.
The search for the artist found Emmanuel Holm, a Chorkor native, born and bred and still living in the community, was happy to come on board with the project. He said “This is another way of giving back to the community and will serve as a reference point and hopes it communicates to the residents. It will serve as a reminder everyday and this gives me joy that my skills can make an impact in my community”.
The wall on which the mural is painted, is the back of the Extra O school in Chorkor. The management of the school agreed and the wall was given a base coat to prepare it for the mural. The back of the school, which also serves as a football park where the youth spent a lot of their time and also, a public bathroom/toilet facility which is visited often. Hence the location was perfect, right at the centre of different attractions.
Two major activities happened on the 30th of April. There was support from UNFPA with dignity kits that contained toiletries and baby items which were presented to teenage mothers which preceded an interaction with these women and girls on Sexual and reproductive health and rights with volunteers from Accra branch of Youth Action Movement(YAM) of PPAG.
There was participatory arts which involved community members, volunteers and members of FHL and Shedecides Ghana. The team was also joined by some student volunteers of the Ghana International School (GIS). They painted on guidance with the local artist and SheDecides organizer, George Koranteng, who is also an artist and was very instrumental in the Shedecides Global virtual art gallery.
Speaking with a volunteer, who is also a community member, Patience Entsie, She mentions that “We realised that there are many organisations doing the education, but the stories were still the same. This very different and new in this community and will go a long way to be reminded to end teenage pregnancy and drug abuse.”
The mural has two smoking teens; a pregnant girl, and a boy in uniform. On the girl’s side of the canvas, she is following a nurse to a reproductive health clinic for education so she can make better choices for herself. She then goes on to become a teacher in the future and impacts the lives of other children. On the boy’s side, he makes use of family planning methods, goes on to become a mechanic’s apprentice to learn the trade and owns an auto shop in the future. The mural seeks to depict alternative behaviours to prevent drug abuse and teenage pregnancy and shows some of the possible outcomes if they make the effort to avoid those vices.
“From what we saw in the community, we believe that non awareness of the dangers and alternative solutions plays a big part in the promotion of these vices. The mural, therefore, will serve as a point of reference, a conversation starter and even a vision board for the youth in that community” Shedecides Ghana Lead, Angela Bortey.
“This is not the end. In subsequent days, the team will follow up with Mentorship sessions for some schools in the community. We believe that once the conversations start, the youth will be encouraged to make better choices which will in turn affect the community, phasing out the old mentality that has perpetuated this unfortunate way of life for the youth and people of Chorkor.” Said FHL Group founder, Ms. Naa-Amy Wayne
All change begins with conversations. Conversations lead to realisations and realisations lead to the picking of a side. The future can be brighter for the youth. Support a worthy cause and let’s do this together.