At just 13 years old, Beatrice was manipulated into stealing her friend’s baby.
Born in to poverty in Ghana’s capital, Accra, Beatrice is the youngest of 19 children. Her father died when she was very young and her mother re-married a local cocoa farmer. Her parents struggled raising such a large family and Beatrice was neglected. Too poor to go to school, she shared the fate of 30 million other children living in sub-Saharan Africa who are denied an education because of poverty or gender barriers. Beatrice felt excluded and was desperate to go to school, seeing it as a way out of her harsh hand-to-mouth existence.
It was all too tempting when a local witch doctor made her a proposition: steal a baby for a ritual sacrifice and he would pay for her schooling.
Despite knowing it was wrong, Beatrice went round to a friend’s house and kidnapped one of their 7-month old baby twins. She was immediately filled with the horror of what she had done and was terrified of what would happen to the baby if she handed it over to the witch doctor. She decided to return the baby to its mother, but by then the police had been called and Beatrice was sentenced to three years at the Senior Correctional Centre in Accra.
In conversation with Beatrice now, she is full of remorse for what she did: “I’m sad, I’m so so sad I took the child”. However, with hindsight, she now sees the episode as one that set her life on a postive path.
The Senior Correctional Centre is the only one of its kind in the whole of Ghana. The Centre caters for children and young people who have been convicted of crime or who are vulnerable to exploitation in their community, such as prostitution or drug abuse. In collaboration with Right To Play, the Centre tries to give these children a second chance and provides them with the life skills training to give them an alternative to crime. Beatrice enjoys taking part in the regular Right To Play sessions which teach the children important skills such as respect, concentration and leadership.
Through the games they play with the Right To Play Coach the children gain confidence, are provided with psychological support, and start to thrive. The Centre also provides a basic education and vocational training so that the young people learn a trade and can support themselves when they leave the Centre. Beatrice learnt how to give pedicures and manicures, bake, sew and fix beads on to jewellery and bags.
Beatrice will have served her term by the end of this year and when she leaves has arranged to live with her aunt while she establishes herself. She is confident that she will make a good living out of making jewellery and bags, and is grateful to the Centre staff and Right To Play Coaches for believing in her.
“I’m so happy about leaving in December and re-starting my life. Now I can speak English and I am going to be making necklaces, bracelets and handbags. I feel like I will be able to make a good living,” Beatrice explains.
At Right To Play we are working with over half a million vulnerable girls like Beatrice.