[pullquote]”They are human like myself so they should be given the necessary support. Even though they are not my family members, that is what our organization is all about, helping humanity.”[/pullquote]
Imagine preparing to have one baby without realizing that you are actually pregnant with quadruplets.
Without the same ultrasound technology as in Canada, many pregnant women in rural Ghana do not know they are carrying more than one child. This was the case for Rebecca ,whose family grew by four in March 2007.
There was no celebration. No offerings of a reality show fame. Just four new mouths to feed.
Already living in poverty with no skills or training, Rebecca , 32, moved her seven children to Takoradi to try to get help. With the help of community members she has remained there with the quadruplets, now four, and one of the elder children.
The father of the children is off working on a cocoa farm. Rebecca says she does not know where or when he will return. He does not send her money to help support the children.
Without government social support, Rebecca relies on community groups to help provide for her children. Community Integration Initiative Foundation (CIIF) is an organization set up to help families like Rebecca’s. They have recognized the fact that children need to proper access to food, shelter and education. They want to teach Rebecca some skills so she can care for her family down the road and no longer need assistance.
“If we are able to help the parent, then with a little support from us they can also take care of the kids,” says Justice Agbanyo, the director of CIIF.
“They are human like myself so they should be given the necessary support. Even though they are not my family members, that is what our organization is all about, helping humanity.”
Rebecca says their living conditions are hard on the children, especially during rainy season. “When it rains, the roof leaks badly,“ says Rebecca. “We have to wait until the rain stops and then wipe up the floor. After the floor is dry, we can lay the two mats down to sleep on.”
There is nothing on the walls but an old calendar and a picture of the quadruplets – Gifty, Shadrack, Marshack and Abedneso – in traditional wear.
Vida is the third oldest child in a family of seven. She is eight years old and can’t read, write or understand basic English words. “I want to go to school,” Vida says though a translator, “I want to earn money to help my family.”
Kindergarten education is free in Ghana, but Rebecca says that fees for books and uniforms prevent her from enrolling the children. That is the main reason why CIIF’s wants to help to provide education for the children.
Multiples account for less three per cent of births worldwide but since the 1970s, Ghanaian women have a higher rate of natural multiple births according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. This means that Rebecca is not alone in the surprise of having more than one child.