A GNA feature by Mildred Assifuah,
Accra, Dec. 19, GNA - On December 17, 2005, one Esi Atta; a 23-year-old seamstress from Gomoa Mozano in the Central Region, joined a Benz Bus from Agona Swedru to visit Accra for the first time. Her excitement to use her lifetime savings of 700,000 cedis to buy some sewing materials to boost her business for the yuletide was cut short when her money wrapped in black polythene in her handbag was picked in broad daylight whilst using the pedestrian walkway on the busy Kaneshie- Graphic road.
Wailing Esi Atta, who travelled to Accra unaccompanied was given some free orientation on how to handle money in Accra by a middle aged man who then gave her 50,000 cedis to return to her hometown. The sad story of the unfortunate seamstress generated a heated debate about the fair and foul means some people make money to spend Christmas.
Certainly and surely, 2005 is approaching its demise but not without the sole right to usher revellers to the annual Christmas festivities. Major cities and towns in the country are getting crowded, busy and hectic with each passing moment.
The lawful and unlawful transactions to enable people to buy live and dead chickens and other nutritional and decorative items for the Xmas including gifts are on. While some revellers are refurbishing and decorating their homes to be the "talk of the town" others are likely to wallow in their pool of poverty not knowing what to eat or drink on Christmas day. Of course the good book tell us: "The poor shall always be with us."
The season is gradually losing it essence and flavour of peace to mischief; high incidence of motor accidents; snatching of cell phones, ladies bag, pick pocketing and armed robbery.
The occasion is gradually becoming a nightmare as people are becoming insecure at the approach of Christmas, despite the usual national campaign against crime and reckless driving. The usual traffic congestion associated with Xmas especially in the big cities makes the festivity a hassle, not to mention the human traffic as everybody wants to get the best of everything for the celebration.
Christmas also gives the leeway for people to indulge in immoral acts leading to the contraction of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
The Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital treats on the average 50 cases of unsafe abortion a month with adolescents being the most victims.
Victims mainly children within the ages of 15 years and 19 years get pregnant either by strangers, school teachers, fathers, boyfriends and the elderly.
Mrs Hectorina Yebuah, Deputy Director of Nursing Services, Korle-Bu, said in an interview that the Department treated at least a case of unsafe abortion a day, saying "this has made unsafe abortion a cause of worry to us as health personnel".
Mrs Yebuah said some of the victims used high doses of paracetamol, chloroquine, ergot, coffee, gunpowder, grounded bottle, alcoholic drinks, grounded ants, cockroaches and herbal preparations. They insert some of these concoctions into their genitals or use them as enemas.
"Some even use trans-cervical insertions of sticks (cassava) and some will have trauma jumping unto the abdomen to force the foetus out."
She noted that abortion cases were seasonal and they came after cultural festivities where merrymaking took place with indiscriminate and unsafe sex taking place among the youth. She added that reported cases normally started from the month of August.
More than 30,000 African women die each year from unsafe and often illegal abortion, with tens of thousands more suffering serious injuries including infertility.
In 2003 there were 1,356 cases of unsafe abortion at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) and 1,368 in 2004, which resulted in 29 per cent and 32 per cent of maternal deaths, respectively. This cold statistics should certainly not be part of the Christmas experience of revellers this year.
Peer influence also lead to anti-social activities such as smoking and according to Mrs Edith Wellington of the Health Research Unit (HRU) of the Ghana Health Services a survey conducted by the HRU in junior secondary schools on 2,000 pupils revealed that 14.3 per cent of the pupils had ever smoked cigarettes before the age of 18 years, with 4.9 per cent of the pupils currently still smoking. She said 19.5 per cent currently use tobacco products whilst 55 per cent usually smoked at home.
All these she attributed to the fact that some parents smoked in the presence of their children whilst others also did so out of curiosity, peer pressure and the availability of it. How many people; however pause, to consider the significance of the birth of Christ to mankind, his birth by a virgin and a deity? However, the true meaning of Christmas should be the moment for the showing of care and compassion towards one another. Let us remember that the birth of Christ brought hope to humanity.
Christians should remind themselves of the love Christ has for them by observing the festivity as a holy season. They must keep in memory the significance of Christmas, the joy and goodwill to mankind and celebrate it as such.