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© 2024 Opportunity InternationalOpportunity International United Kingdom is registered as a charity in England and Wales (1107713) and in Scotland (SCO39692).

Meet the Clients Zelufatu


Country: Ghana

At age 12, Zelufatu was destined to be married off to an older man, so she ran away to Accra to work as a kayayei, going from one vulnerable situation to another. Opportunity International offered her a safe place to stay and training in life skills, health, business and finance, giving her the opportunity to start a better, independent, life for herself.


When barely into her teens, Zelufatu’s father wanted to marry her off to a much older man. But she did not want to marry someone so much older than herself and joined some friends going to Accra.

For six months she worked in the Kayayei business (female head porters). Life is hard for kayayei, the hours are long, the load sometimes heavy, the pay is unsteady and they are often subject to abuse and harassment.  

With the money Zelufatu was making, she had to buy food and use it to pay to for WASH facilities.

Zelufatu was offered training from Opportunity International, which gave her a safe place to eat, sleep and wash, plus she received a stipend.

At the vocational centre, Zelufatu received training in practical skills, including soap making, bead making and baking, and in life skills, including hygiene, women’s reproductive health and family planning. To help her establish herself with a business afterwards, she was given training in financial literacy and was provided with a startup kit in her chosen business.

Zelufatu worked for another month in Accra, selling beadwork to raise some money. She then returned home to Duu, in northern Ghana, where she wanted to start a business that would provide for her whole family. However, her father still wanted to marry her off to the same, older man.

She felt her only option was to marry a man she was interested in and closer to her age. At the age of 14, she found someone she liked and married him. They have one child together.

In Duu where she lives with her husband and child, she started to sell soap and beads. With the money saved from this, she was able to buy a second-hand sewing machine and is currently in a dressmaking apprenticeship. She currently sews dresses for girls, but hopes to learn how to make men’s clothes too.

Zelufatu dreams of setting up her own dressmaking business that will earn enough got her to send her child, and any future children, to school.  

Opportunity has worked with over 100 kayayei like Zelufatu, helping these vulnerable young women to find a better life. We hope to give 200 more kayayei the opportunity to break free from poverty.