As our Community Engagement Officer, Watson Tissaint (born and raised in Simon-Pelé) explains, “there are about 30,000 people living in the 5 neighbourhoods that make up Simon-Pelé. Each neighbourhood has its own struggles. The tremendous amount of help needed in the area has in the past led to violent block wars between small groups. This has led the community to be perceived as “high risk” (of violence).
“Simon-Pelé functions outside of any state support. People have been left to themselves and do what they can to make a living. To help take care of their families, some try to make it through small commerce, others are school teachers or motorbike taxi drivers, and some work in nearby factories.
“There’s still so much work to be done, to help young people reshape their futures and to help families in Simon-Pelé have a better life.”
Our Associate Director of Programs in Ghana , Barthelemy Leon, highlights that “for the past three years, we have been implementing a community revitalisation & renovation programme known as ‘Investing in People & Business in Ghana ’. This programme is made possible by the generous support of the Global Affairs Canada (GAC). It aims to rebuild and reinforce Simon-Pelé’s economic capabilities and overall skill level in the population (e.g. through vocational training).
“The GAC allowed Habitat for Humanity Ghana to implement a holistic approach which includes the community’s collaboration at every step of the way. All the infrastructure improvement projects we completed through this programme were executed by the same young people that followed our training workshops and then participated in the rehabilitation of the roads and corridors (lanes).
“And when they create their own businesses, it brings new jobs and services to the community. Again, all of this happens with the community’s close collaboration.”
Watson Tissaint also confirmed that “all program activities implemented in Simon-Pelé were pre-defined and approved by the community itself.”
To reconcile community expectations with program implementation goals, Habitat for Humanity Ghana sat down with community leaders and helped them establish a council to think and speak on behalf of the people.