Belief in witchcraft is fairly widespread in Ghana. A part of Ghanaian mythology, it is often used as an explanation for unusual or unfortunate happenings such as when a marriage breaks up or crops fail, or as an explanation for symptoms of mental or physical illness.
Elderly women are blamed most frequently and can be subject to cruel treatment and discrimination.
Zenabu Sugri is one of these women.
When her niece fell ill, Zenabu was accused by her sister of bewitching the little girl. Her family declared her to be a witch, and Zenabu was relentlessly taunted. She began to fear for her safety inside her own home.
Zenabu found the sanctuary she wished for at the PWS&D-supported Gambaga Camp—a refuge for women who have been accused as witches.
At Gambaga, PWS&D’s partners work to ensure that women feel safe and secure. Alongside ministers and other community members, they provide comfort, offer formal education, and foster acceptance and understanding among members of the community. With this support, women who are accused of witchcraft are no longer harmed, and communities are more accepting and considerate.
Life at Gambaga
Zenabu may be away from home, but she’s found a sense of belonging among a community of women at Gambaga.
As part of the project, Zenabu was trained in soap making and earns an income by selling her handiwork. To supplement her living, Zenabu also sells fish. She enjoys the self-reliance that comes with the chance to sell her goods.
When describing life at Gambaga, Zenabu shares that “it is peaceful. I am in good health and getting enough to eat.” Two of her grandchildren have come to live with her and are going to school. Ultimately though, Zenabu longs to return to a safe and accepting home.
Recognizing that it takes time for beliefs and attitudes to change, PWS&D strives to pave the way for a return home for women like Zenabu though community sensitization and awareness raising sessions about mental illness, disabilities and other events that are often mistakenly attributed to witchcraft.
It is the hope that one day these camps will not be needed. Until then, marginalized women in Ghana are receiving the support they need to lead peaceful and secure lives.