Gold Coast

Gold Coast

The Gold Coast is the region now known as Ghana - home to nearly 24 million people. The Gold Coast was formally a British Colony on the Gulf of Guinea, but gained its independence in 1957 and is now known as Ghana. The Gold Coast region consists of sandy beaches and marsh in some places, and the hinterland, where the land rises several hundred feet above sea level. Those that live along the coast make a meager living from fishing, and others that live in rural regions of Ghana work as subsistence farmers.

Ghana Rural Region

The Location


The Population


The Religion

Christian faiths

The Weather

  • Ghana’s rural communities are remote and desperately poor. Homes are fragile and small, usually accommodating large families. Ghana Clothes Hanging Outside of Homes
  • To make up for the deficiencies of rural schools, Compassion-assisted centers provide extra tutoring to ensure children receive an adequate education. Ghana Girls Writing Sponsor Letters
  • Rural communities frequently don’t have access to clean water. Often, people have to rely on rivers and unprotected springs, which can cause life-threatening diseases. Ghana Woman at Well
  • The Compassion curriculum helps center workers provide activities and learning opportunities that enable children to develop their full potential. Ghana Teacher with Compassion Curriculum
  • Children enjoy coming to their Compassion center, where they can have fun with their friends just being kids. Ghana Girls Jumping Rope
  • Each year, Compassion Ghana’s staff processes thousands of letters between children and their sponsors. Ghana Woman Translating Child Letters

Overview: Rural Ghana

Nearly 24 million people live in Ghana (formerly the Gold Coast), and English is the official language. The central region of rural Ghana includes the coast, which consists of sandy beaches and marsh in some places, and the hinterland, where the land rises several hundred feet above sea level. Most people in this region are farmers. The unemployment rate is about 8 percent, and three of every 10 people in Ghana live on less than $1.25 a day.

Ghana’s constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the government generally respects this right. Ghanaians enjoy folklore and popular music. Highlife — a dance with a strong, syncopated beat — also is popular.

With more than two decades of peace and democratic political stability, as well as a growing economy, Ghana has emerged as an economic leader in sub-Saharan Africa. But despite this relative prosperity, poverty remains pervasive for nearly one-third of Ghana’s population living below the poverty line. A recent energy crisis coupled with a humanitarian emergency caused by severe rains and flooding have exacerbated the situation.

One-third of rural populations lack access to safe drinking water, and only 11 percent have adequate sanitation. Guinea worm, a parasitic infection largely attributable to drinking unsafe water, continues to plague Ghana. And while numbers may be under-reported because of stigma, the HIV prevalence rate seems to be stabilizing.


Culture Corner


What color people wear in Ghana can speak volumes!

Black and red are worn mainly at funerals and sad occasions. However, these same colors are part of Ghana’s traditional clothing colors, so Ghanaians sometimes dress beautifully in a combination of red, yellow, green and black.

White is worn on happy occasions such as naming and wedding ceremonies.

Many other colors are part of the unique kente, a garment associated with royalty and worn on ceremonial and special occasions. Color is also used in daily batik and tie-dyed clothes made locally in rural Ghana.


Life in Rural Ghana

Compassion’s work in rural Ghana is concentrated in the central region. Here, adults typically work as subsistence farmers. Those living along the coast make a meager living from fishing.

Many of the rural communities Compassion serves are very remote. Homes are typically small, one-room constructions of mud walls, dirt floors and thatched roofs. These dwellings provide little protection from the elements.

Ghana is known for its ethnic diversity, with more than 52 different people groups. Although most Ghanaians are Christians, there is a strong influence of traditional, animist beliefs. The climate in Ghana is tropical, with two rainy seasons, April to July and September to October. During the dry season (December to February), dusty winds from the Sahara blow. Called harmattan winds, they are often strong and damaging.

Children at Home

Children who live along the coast mostly live in makeshift or temporary homes built from wooden planks, with metal sheet or asbestos roofing. Most families have a garden, and some even have wells. But very few have running water. About half of the houses in the region have single rooms. This means that those rooms serve as both bedroom and living room for the whole family.


Community Issues and Concerns Community in Ghana

Like many rural areas, communities here are in need of better schools, more job opportunities, higher wages, and better access to health care. Since much of rural Ghana is impoverished in these ways, most communities lack the belief that they can break free from the struggle of subsistence living. A lack of hope seems to be at the root of many of these extreme poverty issues.

Local Needs and Challenges

Children in Ghana’s rural communities face daunting challenges. Many villages are isolated, and the nearest medical center can be as much as three hours away. Schools are also scarce. The few schools that do exist in rural areas are poorly equipped and overcrowded. Sources of safe water and adequate sanitation are also lacking. Very few homes in rural Ghana have adequate sanitation facilities. As a result, children often suffer from illnesses caused by unclean water and poor hygiene.


Schools and Education Education in Ghana

Although primary and junior secondary school education is tuition-free and mandatory, rural Ghana society is largely undereducated. Many children have to walk several miles to get to their schools, and most classrooms lack basic supplies and materials. In addition, access to each successive level of education remains severely limited by lack of facilities.

Only about 30 percent of junior secondary school graduates are able to gain admission to senior secondary schools, and only about 35 percent of senior secondary school graduates go on to attend a university. Some children must drop out to work and supplement the family income. Compassion Ghana works to ensure that every registered child is able to attend elementary school, and it provides additional support through all grades, including tutoring, at the child development centers.

At the Compassion Child Development Center

Child development centers in rural communities provide registered children with a place to learn, grow and study. Sponsorship allows staff to provide Bible teaching, medical exams, health and hygiene instruction, educational tours and classes, social events, tutoring, and life-skills and vocational training. Centers also offer opportunities for involvement for the parents or guardians of sponsored children. These children also spend time writing to and praying for their sponsors.


Working Through the Local Church

As in every country where Compassion ministers, in Ghana, our program of holistic, long-term child development is delivered through the local church. Compassion believes the church is God’s chosen vessel to bring hope to the hopeless and justice to the poor and oppressed. Also, it is the local church that is uniquely qualified to understand the needs of the community and reach its impoverished children. The local church has been working in the community long before Compassion comes along, and it will be there after Compassion’s mission is completed. And in Ghana, the church has proven to be a more effective agent of development than political, educational or other institutions.

How Compassion Works in Ghana Compassion in Ghana

Compassion's work in Ghana began in 2004. Currently, more than 45,300 children participate in 195 child development centers.

Compassion partners with local churches, helping them provide Ghana’s children with a long-term program of physical, educational, social and spiritual development. Through this partnership between Compassion and local churches, children in need have the opportunity to rise above their circumstances and become all God has created them to be.

The Role of a Partnership Facilitator

As the link between Compassion’s country office and the individual partner churches operating child development centers, Partnership Facilitators play an important role. Each Partnership Facilitator in Ghana oversees 12 Compassion centers, helping them be the best they can be at meeting the needs of children in poverty.

One of these dedicated staff members is Samuel Okoampa. He always finds visiting the centers interesting and challenging. To reach some centers, he sometimes has to wait in line for a taxi for three hours, which is then crammed with up to 12 people.

Nevertheless, Samuel enjoys his job as a Partnership Facilitator. It gives him great satisfaction to arrive at a center and see the children filled with joy because of Compassion.


Prayer Requests

  • Pray that child development workers will be led by the Holy Spirit as they impact the lives of children.
  • As Compassion Ghana moves into the hinterland, many children are found to have life-threatening health conditions. Pray for God’s intervention for children who are registered into new centers.
  • Pray for economic development so that skilled workers and teachers will be attracted to rural areas.