It Takes a Village: Fighting Child Trafficking With Football

Challenging Heights —  July 5, 2018

Trafficking impacts children and their families on the individual level, but here in Ghana’s coastal communities, a troubling pattern has emerged. Child after child is taken from these communities and forced to slave away under horrific conditions on Lake Volta. Systemic poverty, coupled with naivety, leaves entire communities vulnerable to the deceptive ploys of traffickers who paint a picture of a promising future for the children under their charge and offer money to struggling caregivers.

So what protects a community from child trafficking?

Education, for one.

Truth empowers us. When people know the truth about life for children in slavery on Lake Volta, they can no longer be fooled by the manipulative tactics of opportunistic traffickers. Parents think critically.  Children know their rights. Neighbours look out for one another. The community flourishes.

Inclusion.

The idea of we. The realization that it’s not just me against the world. Being a part of something bigger than themselves teaches children to care for others and also that they themselves are worth caring for. When children understand their worth and take their place in such a community, they stick together like glue, and that’s not easily undone.

So, inspired by the guiding principles of education and inclusion, here’s what we’re doing.

On July 14th, we’re hosting a football tournament, bringing together community members in Winneba around the game of football and the cause of anti-trafficking. Two hundred boys under 13 will get to experience the sense of inclusion that comes from participating on a team and helping each other achieve a common goal. These are the very same children targeted by traffickers, who perceive boys as best suited for hazardous fishing activities. Instead, these boys will experience the strength that comes from working together, and they, as well as their families and friends, will learn the importance of staying in school and looking out for one another. They’ll discover the tricks used by traffickers and the realities of life for children on Lake Volta, and they won’t be easily fooled. They’ll stay in school and raise children who do the same. They’ll talk to their friends. They’ll notice when children go missing. They’ll know the truth, and they’ll know where to go for help. Trafficking will lose its foothold in this community because these community members will hold on to each other.

This event is made possible by a Fare network Global Grant. Fare is a not-for-profit European network of groups committed to tackling discrimination in football and furthering social inclusion through the game. Global Grants are aimed at supporting the work of like-minded people to stimulate social change through football and expertise development worldwide.

To stay up to date, follow Winneba United, our football club, on Twitter and Facebook. We’ll be posting more information in the next two weeks and lots of pictures during the event itself. And if you’re in the area, we’d love to see you on July 14th supporting local anti-trafficking efforts and Ghana’s next generation of footballers!

 

Supported by the Fare network

This post was written by Lauren Thuringer, Grants Officer.