The stories
of four women

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Sneek Peek

Four women born and raised in Northern Ghana in their bid to escape poverty migrate to Accra where their lives intersect…

Kayayoo Rising

Rose Aba Dodd, Princess Umul Hatiyya, and Nana Kofi Acquah share their motivations and hopes for this project

creation of
Kayayoo Rising

Beyond heavy loads, kayayei carry visions of a better future

- Eno Effah


A brave mother who risked society’s judgment for her children’s future. A feisty teen with dreams of running her own business. A determined young woman who dreams of owning a home. A budding dressmaker overcoming the odds to pursue a career in fashion. People describe Samata, Zaharawu, Rukayatu, and Naimah by what they do, not who they are. To many, their backbreaking work as kayayei is a monolith that looms over their personal stories. It overshadows the unique reasons that spurred their migration from northern Ghana to work as head porters in one of Accra’s busiest markets. This book shares their realities working as kayayoo but also tells a tale of their hopes and perseverance. It gives context to the choices that led to their circumstances, captures their resilience, and celebrates their agency. Ultimately, it shines a bright light on the women rising above the weight of the burdens they bear.We invite you to experience their complex lives through stunning photography, creative writing, and in-depth research. This visual narrative will amaze and inspire you while fostering a deeper understanding of the lives of kayayoo.

Rose Aba Dodd

Rose Dodd is a social entrepreneur and program manager with experience managing portfolios with diverse programs, varied reporting lines, and budgets. She is passionate about policy and practice models in entrepreneurship and education in Africa and exploring innovative ways to scale social impact in education. She is the Founder of Kaya ChildCare (KCC), an early childhood development program in Accra for the children of Kayayei under age 6. She is also the Executive Director of The Education Collaborative at Ashesi University where she leads the 10-year strategy to build collaborative models in higher education to impact over 1.1 million students by 2030.

Nana Kofi Acquah

Nana Kofi Acquah is a Ghanaian journalist and advertising creative director who now works as a documentary photographer and filmmaker. His work focuses on Challenging Perceptions on Africa, Inequality and Climate Change. Nana was jury for the World Press Photo Contest 2019 and a recipient of the Tim Hetherington Foundation and World Press Photo Fellowship.
In 2016, Nana was named by Shutterstock as one of the top 100 photographers in the world to follow on social media. He lives in Accra with the love of his life, Gloria, their three children and 2 boerboels.

Princess Umul Hatiyya

Princess Umul Hatiyya is a storyteller, development cooperation professional, and adventurer. She has a background in entrepreneurship, finance, and communication. She illuminates and inspires the world by sharing the stories of others as well as her personal and professional experiences as she travels solo across the globe. Her life goal is to experience different cultures around the world and has to date visited 82 countries on 5 continents. A voracious reader and author, she is credited with 7 books including 3 children’s books – The Adventures of the Mad Duck series. She is a cycling enthusiast and gastronomist and holds an MA in International Relations from Nottingham Trent University, UK.


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The kayayoo (plural: kayayei) are a marginalised group of migrant women and girls mostly from the northern regions of Ghana who travel south to work as head porters in large urban markets