Social support of child migrants in Accra, Ghana - The Experiences of Young Female Head porters (Kayayei)
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This study aims to explore the experiences of young female head porters on their social support and how that helps them survive in the city of Accra. It aims to discuss how the social networks of the head porters functioned in the lives of these girls. Furthermore, the study sought to find out more about the roles and challenges of stakeholders in their provision of support for the female head porters. The overarching perspective of this study is grounded in the philosophy of the social studies of children and childhood. The principles of childhood as a social construct and viewing children as active social agents in matters concerning them were paramount in this study. Other concepts like social support, social network and children’s work were also included in the study as an unpinning framework. The study employed the qualitative research approach in the collection of data. It employed multiple participatory methods such as participant observation, focus group discussions, semi-structured interviews. Field notes and other reflections from observations were included. The total number of participants in this study were twelve female head porters who were between the ages of 11 and 17 years. The study was conducted in the Nima market where the female head porters lived and worked. I conducted semi structured interviews with one government official and four informants from different NGOs. The analysis of the study reveals that the common forms of supports received by female head porters from their social networks were instrumental, emotional and informational support. The findings suggest that instrumental support from friends was very prominent in the lives of my participants while they relied mostly on family for emotional support. The study further reveals that children continue to demonstrate their ability to survive in the face of adversities by developing coping strategies through their social networks and employing their agency in various situations. This study therefore suggests that stakeholders providing support for the female head porters must increase children’s participation in decision making to gain a better understanding of their needs in order to provide appropriate interventions.