Harmony centre leads 16 Days of Activism campaign in Ghana camp

News Stories, 7 December 2006

© UNHCR/N.Jehu-Hoyah
Making World Aids Day red ribbons at the Harmony Community Centre.

BUDUBURAM, Ghana, December 7 (UNHCR) It's been a busy couple of weeks for the Harmony Community Centre, a haven for people with special needs in Ghana's sprawling Buduburam refugee settlement.

The centre has been heavily involved in events to support the international campaign, 16 Days of Activism to Eliminate Violence Against Women, and also held supported activities and distributed red ribbons to mark World Aids Day last Friday.

Harmony staff used drama and song to raise awareness about sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), a scourge that many of their audience were familiar with.

"I feel bad about SGBV because if you don't have legs to run, they [male abusers] can catch you. When you get pregnant, they don't want to marry you and can beat you to keep quiet," said Lorpu Flomo, a 33-year-old-Liberian refugee who has walked with a limp since she had a fall as a child.

Fatouma, a 22-year-old crippled by polio, is a victim. "At 13, I was raped by four men because I couldn't run away," she said, adding: "My daughter is the result." But she said she still counts herself lucky, "because I didn't catch AIDS.... AIDS doesn't know that you are different."

The young Liberian said she feels bad whenever she hears tales about violence against women. "I think the people [carrying out attacks on women] are mentally ill. In my condition someone can take advantage of me and I feel bad. That's why it is important to talk against it," she said.

Meanwhile, Liberian Refugees United Against HIV/AIDS organised a special parade on World Aids Day, inviting refugees, UNHCR staff and representatives of non-governmental organisations who help out in Buduburam, which is located about 35 kilometres from the Ghanaian capital, Accra, and hosts some 38,000 mostly Liberian refugees.

The 16 Days of Activism, which end on December 10, have been supported by UNHCR in events and programmes held around the world.

By Needa Jehu-Hoyah in Buduburam, Ghana