Siamekome: How solar can bring hope to dark island of future dreamers
For a small island nestled in the cool embrace of the Volta River, hope for a brighter future for its 150 residents may be just three solar lights planted in three strategic locations. But hope for such simple but necessary provision can be far and painful to realise.
Due to the numbers on the island coupled with little economic activities, it does not appear attractive to invest millions installing electricity across the Volta River to Siamekome in the Central Tongu district – the island cut away from development and all basic amenities except that it’s surrounded by water.
Fishing is the preoccupation of the elders, and education, the hope of the future dreamers. But for the children to access this education, they must go across the river. Students between the ages of 5 to 17 years have to paddle boats without life jackets to and from school.
Mothers who can’t risk it, prefer delaying the early start of education for their child.
Roberta and Ruth are in Form 2 and Primary 6 respectively. Roberta dreams to be a nurse while Ruth, a pilot in Ghana’s Air Force.
Apart from overcoming the frustration of menstruating every month, they also have to dread the evening when they have to study with torchlights.
Children like Roberta and Ruth who should be the focus of government’s rural poverty alleviation programmes, don’t seem to be.
“We need a clinic and a basic school but with our present circumstances, three solar lights at vantage points in the village remains our topmost priority for the children to study and do their homework at night,” says 67-year-old Samson Avenorgbor.
The fallow island needs massive investment to convert to one of Ghana’s tourism destination, says, Eric Nutsunugbe in paralysing despair.
The green vegetation on the island is the habitat for different species of birds. Roberta and her siblings who have no option than to follow the tradition of Nutsunugbe, their grandfather, hope to surpass his achievements in life but for the lack of light, their hope is faint.
With scatter thatch mud houses clustered at three different locations, an installation of three solar streetlights will go a long way to guarantee a bright future especially for the girl child.
Roberta said in an interview; “I want to come back and develop this village when I fulfill my future dream. I don’t want to see my younger sister endure this same challenges of accessing quality education.”
The island may not exist on the records of authorities but it certainly is, the home and haven for these children.
At night, they borrow the phones of their parents as a source of light in homes where there are no torchlights so they can read.
Mr. Avenorgbor, a retired teacher said he was bitten by a snake one evening on his way from a visit to a neighbour. That, according to him would’ve ended his life after crossing the river that night to Adidome district hospital only to be transferred to the Volta regional teaching hospital for lack of the required medication.
“If not for the timely intervention of an elderly man who organised a herbal treatment for me, I would’ve died by now” he said sadly.
By Fred Duhoe
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