Sodom and Gomorrah is a popular residence in Accra for young men and women who are believed to have migrated mostly from the three northern regions of Ghana to seek for employment and improve upon their standard of living.
However, the rampant negative reports about residents living in Sodom and Gomorrah has truly affected those positive people who are working tirelessly to raise money to cater for themselves and their families back home.
Regarded as the largest slum in Ghana, Sodom and Gomorrah is highly significant for its wealth of filth and garbage. The slum is also well-known as a den for armed robbers, prostitutes, drug dealers, adultery, fornication, gay acts as well as child prostitution, child trafficking and child labour.
A recent study carried by Motivate Ghana has indicated that, not all residents living in Sodom and Gomorrah are into such unscrupulous practice, there are some who despite all the negative reports had stayed positive and are making things happen for them and their families.
Rahinatu Abdul Raziz, like many Kayayies, at age 17 came from Janga in the Northern part of Ghana to Accra specifically Old Fadama community, popularly called Sodom and Gomorrah to seek for a job that could earn her money to look after her parents and 6 siblings back in the village.
“Life in my village was very tough, and the work of my parents wasn’t lucrative enough to cater for us. So as the first child who wanted a better living and also gain money to cater for my family, I had no other option than to come to Accra to search for a job since I couldn’t find one in my village”
The first place of accommodation Rahinatu could think of was to live with some friends who had already familiarized with the system of living on the streets of Sodom and Gomorrah.
With no form of educational background, finding a lucrative job in Accra became very challenging for the vulnerable young girl so she joined the usual form of occupation ‘Kayayo’ pursued almost by the majority of young girls who migrate to Accra.
Living on the streets of Sodom and Gomorrah – the largest slum in Accra, are these young men and women mostly Kayayies who have migrated from various villages in the Northern part of Ghana.
To be a Kayayo in Ghana does not require any form of formal education, skills nor money. All that one needs to start is the strength and a head pan. Their work is to carry heavy loads of food and household goods on their head for little money.
“I was in the kayayo business for a very long time and slept in a wooden structure with some friends. Our lives were exposed to danger. At night, we sometimes get attacked by armed robbers when we are asleep and some of my friends were even raped and molested. To most of us, due to the unfavourable living condition in Sodom and Gomorrah, we never thought of saving some of the little money we had. I preferred to spend all the profits I gained in a day than to take it home for armed robbers to attack me at night”
According to Rahinatu, for over ten years on the streets of Agbogbloshie in Accra, she couldn’t even boast of a pesewa as savings money, she spent all the profits she had in a day with the hope of going back to the street as a Kayayo the next day to gain another money due to the numerous armed robbery attacks at night.
But she claimed that, with the help of an NGO and authorities of the National Association of Kayayies in Accra, the importance of saving was introduced to them ‘kayayies’ and she took advantage of that.
During that time, Rahinatu had gotten a permanent shop where she was employed as the shop kayayo. So she goes to the shop early in the morning to carry heavy loads for customers who came to purchase from the shop.
“After the introduction of the susu (saving small amounts of money over a period of time to build a lump sum that may be used when needs arise in the future), I started to save more of my profit and spend less. And that has truly see me to this far”
Pregnant with her first child, Rahinatu decided to change job since the kayayo business was very stressful as a pregnant woman. She started to sell basic items which were purchased in front of her kiosk with her savings.
“Business started booming, and everyone in the area came to my shop to buy. I didn’t have some of the items they asked for and that was very disturbing. I later spoke to heads of the National Association of Kayayies where I did my susu and they agreed to lend me some money. My husband also helped with some of the money and I started from there. As time went on I realized people came to me to ask for foodstuff to buy which I didn’t have, so I brought them in”
Rahinatu today, has settled her debt with the National Association of Kayayies and her shop is now considered as the biggest provision shop in Sodom and Gomorrah. She sells almost everything one would needs for a daily purposes. She is also now the breadwinner in her family – she pays for her siblings’ school fees and has enrolled some into apprenticeship.
Currently, Rahinatu is married with five children of which the first child is in his second year at Tamale Senior High School.
Her prayer has always been to get enough money to relocate from the slum area which is also believed to be a den for criminals even though there are some genuine hardworking residents over there. She lamented that the recent demolishing exercise in Sodom and Gomorrah has really affected her market and has planned to move to a convenient location anytime soon.
Rahinatu however advised all Kayayies to learn how to save the little money that comes to their hands and also make good use of their time.
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To be continue …
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