#LLAInterview: ”Your struggles are usually a pointer to what you’re destined for” Jasmin Baidoo, Founder, Martha’s Compasssion

Jasmin Baidoo is a passionate advocate for children who are socially vulnerable and at risk for juvenile adjudication and who, without intervention, are less likely to make choices that will transition them successfully into a productive and rewarding adulthood.

She is the Founder of Martha’s Compassion, a non-profit organization whose vision is to build a society that embraces and invests in all children and youth, regardless of their beginnings, and supports them with academic enrichment, skills training, employment & entrepreneurial readiness, and connects them with mentoring institutions.

Jasmin’s mantra is “helping youngsters birth purpose through their struggles.” On the LLA Interview series this week, Jasmin walks us through the work she does through Martha’s Compassion and why she isn’t quitting anytime soon.

BACKGROUND 

As a product of a single parent household, Jasmin is aware of the consequences many children suffer when they are surrounded by life-altering choices and embedded in circumstances that are often not balanced with guidance, discipline and love.  She founded Martha’s Compassion to encourage and give hope, love and support to children who find themselves in this situation.

Martha’s Compassion provides endangered youths a platform for resilience and self-love, a place of hope and compassion, a refuge for emotional and psychological healing. 

She passionately believes that non-profits of this kind, helps her country, Ghana and the society-at-large to foster a community of support around the issues faced by the youth, especially children in conflict with the law by changing their mindsets about themselves, their futures, and their reintegration potential.  

Jasmin has successfully co-ordinated and launched several mentoring and skills training workshops, inside and outside places of judicial confinement, with the assistance of celebrities and successful entrepreneurs who themselves have defied the odds by overcoming childhood challenges and achieving success. These partnerships have motivated and engaged hundreds of juveniles, inspired and strengthened their journeys to restoration, wholeness, and ultimately financial independence.

ON WHY IT WAS IMPORTANT TO LAUNCH MARTHA’S COMPASSION 

To a very large extent, having been brought up by a single mother, and discovering that most of the youngsters I work with come from similar backgrounds inspired me to start Martha’s Compassion. I also noticed that incidence of Juvenile Delinquency leading to children in conflict with the law and resulting in them being detained is on the rise especially here in Ghana and so it remains an untapped green area. In addition, I also learned that resources from state to state agencies responsible for catering for children in detention is insignificant, so it was important to launch Martha’s Compassion to inspire generosity in others to help assist the government to cater for them.



FACTORS USED IN ASCERTAINING A CHILD’S VULNERABILITY/ONBOARDING PROCESS AT MARTHA’S COMPASSION

The financial status of the parents/guardians is one. The environment in which he/she lives is another. His relationship with other children and if he has access to the 5 basic rights of the child i.e health, education, clothing, shelter and food. These factors define or measure vulnerability in young people.

Once this is ascertained, we ask for permission to read their social inquiry reports (highly confidential) which are written by social workers. These reports entail the antecedent, the extenuating factors leading to the committal of the offense, the background of the parents and that of the offender, the environment in which the child lives, recommendations given as to whether there is a risk of recidivism, together with an action plan developed for the offender.

The report also arms you with information that gives you clues on how to handle the youngster and to establish a relationship with him/ her until a rapport is built between you to help you better work with the child from the time he or she is detained until he is reintegrated back to the appropriate environment.

A relationship must be established with the parent/ guardian as well, because reintegration is not one sided. Each case is unique. They may look similar but the approaches will be different.

MILESTONES RECORDED SO FAR

We met a 17 year old boy at the Senior Correctional Center who was learning how to sew. He had already developed the skill so we made arrangements to connect him with Ben Nonterrah, a fashion designer in Ghana who gladly accepted him. After his discharge, he went to Nonterrah for advance training. He lives with his uncle now and earns an income from the same fashion house.

Not only have we worked with children in detention, but girls in vocational institutions from poor backgrounds have been supported. We find them internship opportunities when they are on long breaks. So far, we have gained employment for six girls.

CHALLENGES EXPERIENCED SO FAR
Policy restrictions within the Ghana Prisons framework. For example, running social media promotions to bring to bare, challenges these young people face in detention is almost impossible because the law doesn’t permit you to give the full picture of what goes on within the facility. Some of the children need to be worked on psychologically for doing time, and due to the short period of detention, we are sometimes unable to make the desired impact.
Raising funds to provide them with the needed resources is also a big challenge because of donor fatigue resulting from other NGOs raising funds for other purposes. Most people do not feel the need to support delinquent children. Lastly, we lack volunteers because most people on this side of the world usually want monetary gains for services provided.
MYTHS ABOUT RUNNING A NON-PROFIT , FUNDING AND STEPS TO RECRUITING NEW TEAM MEMBERS

One of the myths I have personally encountered while running a social enterprise is the misconception that all funds go to the founders and not to the cause. That is far from the truth. As it concerns funding, so far, family and friends have been my main source of financial assistance. Going forward, we are taking steps to recruit a volunteer to take care of all the fundraising activities of the organization.

On onboarding new team members, I look out for people who share the vision and mission of Martha’s Compassion. I’m also big on persons with experience in my chosen field, people who are passionate about the foundation’s objectives and are not motivated by monetary gain. Occasionally, I look out for people with a relevant circle of influence who will be able to impact what we do in a positive way.

OTHER INTERESTS OUTSIDE OF MARTHA’S COMPASSION

I’m currently pursuing a Masters in Religious Studies to fully equip me in my ministry of help. I believe I have been called to serve young people and to help them discover purpose through their struggles.

WHAT COUNTS AS IMPACT AND FULFILLMENT?

Impact and fulfillment for me is when a life is touched, when I see transformation in a child I’ve engaged with.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED FOR?

My best legacy would be every life I have touched, as Maya Angelou would put it. Every child whose transformation I’ve been a part of is what I would like to be remembered for.

LAST WORDS

Open your eyes wide and look out for clues that will lead you to discover your purpose – It’s all around you. Your struggles are usually a pointer to what you’re destined for. My anchor scripture is 2 Timothy 2:15– Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

 

The Leading Ladies Africa Series is a weekly interview series that focuses on women of African descent, showcases their experiences across all socio-economic sectors, highlights their personal and professional achievements and offers useful advice on how to make life more satisfying for women.

It is an off-shoot of Leading Ladies Africa; an initiative that seeks to effectively mentor and inspire women, with particular emphasis on the African continent.

Do you know any woman of African descent doing phenomenal things? Send an email to lead@leadingladiesafrica.org and we just might feature her.

 

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