By Tina (Elivava) Mensah
My name is Elivava, I’m singer and performer from Ghana. A victim of domestic violence, and someone who had been suppressed in the male dominated Ghanaian society. Being the only girl child among 5 boys, I learnt to fight to empower myself for my freedom among boys as a child, and men as I grew up.
My brothers, family, society, made me feel less than myself and even said it to my face that it was my fate because I am a woman.
I became a school drop out at the age of 13. By this time, I was already sleeping on the streets of Accra in front of a club called, Makumba around Dankwa circle.
Why? Because my father had travelled and my mama couldn’t care for me and my brothers any more.
For this reason I always thought the only way for a woman to survive is to be with a man since that was what the environment I lived in, taught me.
At the age of 17 I had already had many abortions from unwanted pregnancies.
Looking at how hard life was, I got into a relationship with an older man who decided to take me into his home.
I got pregnant again but he didn’t want the pregnancy so he started beating me to abort the pregnancy again which I refused. To cut it short I gave birth to a girl child and soon after to a boy.
After my son was 1 and half year old, I had to run out of his house to save my life because then the beating had become intolerable.
That was when I decided to face my fears and use my singing talent to take care of my children. Alone. As a single parent.
The journey has not been easy. I am still struggling but my children are already in their teens, and watching them grow as young independent people, gives me courage to keep moving.
Looking back at all that I had went through, and what women in Ghana still go through, I felt I needed to help the women in similar situations. I meet women everyday with heartwrenching stories to tell. Some are not as strong as me, so I am helping in my own way to uplift them, give them hope, possibly get support for them, and let them know they can pave their way out of the hard times.
It has now become a dream to help and support other single mothers and girls like me, in my rural area and the world as a whole.
Supporting the dream
To support my dream, I had to start off by creating awareness about women empowerment, and letting them know that with faith, a little bit of hardwork and some support from us, it is possible to live a much better life. I started off my project by creating awareness through a festival called Buyioka Festival which has been held over the past 15 years now.
Last year in April, I started a homecoming concert called ‘Elivava Homecoming Women Empowerment Program and Initiative’ which was quite successful too.
Plans for 2017
The plan for 2017’s Elivava Homecoming Concert and the Buyioka festival is to build and finish a portable local market for those women who trade their harvest and produce from their farms in my village – BAIKA – which is in the Volta region of Ghana. My main goal is to empower these women to become more independent and successful in their careers and have their respect and say in our society
Through this, the women will also be able to educate their children and feed them as well. Something they are not able to do at the moment.
These women complain they cannot get buyers for their produce because the condition of the market has deteriorated over the years. Transportation has become so expensive to transport their produce to town to sell. If we can open a market for them, the buyers will come to the village to buy straight from them which makes it easier for them to buy and sell.
Some of the products these women farm are:
LOCAL RED RICE
Another plan is to educate as many children as possible, especially the girl child. Many of them drop out of school and others do not go to school at all. I would also love to give them books, shoes, and uniforms since some of them go to school bare-footed, cannot afford books, and don’t even have toys to play with in kindergarten for instance.
Any individuals or organizations who would like to go on a holiday within Easter period to Africa specifically Ghana, is most welcome to visit Baika in the Volta region for the Buyioka festival and Elivava Homecoming women Empowerment Project and initiative.
We need volunteers and donors!
Doors are also open to any other individuals who would like to volunteer in any other field of speciality to empower our women and to educate the children.
We are also open to all kinds of donations.
For more info, follow Elivava:
Facebook page link: