For Immediate Release
31 March, 2016
Challenging Heights is disappointed in the conduct of the District Chief Executive of Awutu-Senya, Mr. Samson Abbey-Armah, who in a classical show of power has infringed upon the Rights of the children in his district.
On the 30th day of March, 2016, Challenging Heights; a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) promoting youth and family empowerment and children’s rights to education and freedom from forced labour in Ghana, was scheduled to have a ‘Beach Raid’ at Awutu Senya in collaboration with the District Assembly, District Police, Department of Social Welfare and the local Fishermen.
Dr. James Kofi Annan speaks to media at the Awutu-Senya beach.
Unfortunately, the activity was obstructed by the District Chief Executive of Awutu Senya, Mr. Samson Abbey-Armah, who for reasons known to him alone, issued a last-minute warning ordering the District Coordinating Director, the District Police Commander and his team, the fishermen as well as the social worker to call off the raid which was aimed at rescuing children who were being engaged in hazardous labour on the beach, or risk being arrested.
Being law-abiding citizens, Challenging Heights reluctantly called off the Beach Raid in spite of the time and resources invested in the program and rather made use of the opportunity to educate the media present on the dangers and plight of the children engaged in child slavery/labour and the persistence of child trafficking in Ghana which has resulted in the country being placed on the Tier 2 Human Trafficking Watch List of the US State Department.
Later in the day at 10pm during UTV’s News, Mr. Abbey-Armah was called to clarify on air why he thwarted such a laudable project and to our utter surprise the DCE said the Assembly was not aware of any such program in Awutu Senya.
We find this development very unfortunate and disheartening in the sense that Challenging Heights has over the years used the appropriate channels to partner with key stakeholders in Awutu Senya to undertake numerous projects all aimed at protecting the rights of children, fighting their cause and economically empowering residents of the district and this case was no different.
Weeks before the event, Challenging Heights on the 4th of March, 2016, met with the DCE himself who explained that the Assembly had planned to embark on a similar project but couldn’t implement it due to monetary constraints and as such commended and approved of the program and personally delegated the District Coordinating Director to provide Challenging Heights with the necessary support to make the Beach Raid a success.
This was followed by series’ of meetings with the Senya Police Commander, the District Coordinating Director and one Madam Winifred Agyemang who is supposedly in charge of NGOs operating in the district. All of the above-mentioned, including the Chief Fisherman, Nenyi Mortey and the Department of Social Welfare confirmed their participation and support of the Beach Raid a day before the activity was to take place.
Challenging Heights is therefore stating emphatically that the DCE is being economical with the truth if he says he had no knowledge of the Beach Raid and we are by this medium expressing our disappointment in Mr. Abbey-Armah for refusing and even going to the extent of threatening us with arrest should we embark on a program which seeks to comply and enforce the Children’s Act of 1998 and the Human Trafficking Act, 2005.
As an organisation, Challenging Heights has been involved in a myriad of activities in Awutu Senya such as rescuing over 250 trafficked children on the Lake Volta and returning them to their families in the community, the distribution of over 6,000 TOM Shoes to 10 primary and JHS schools in the district, the establishment of five Community Child Protection Committees whose members have been receiving training in Child’s Rights for the past four years and sponsoring a child from Awutu Senya to meet the Queen of Sweden.
Just last year, together with the Assembly and other stakeholders, Challenging Heights held a bus raid in Awutu Senya and rescued children who were being trafficked to work on the Lake Volta and distributed over 10,000 Anti-Human Trafficking stickers as part of our targeted sensitisation project in the district.
DCE Sampson Abbey-Armah Source: www.newsghana.com.gh
In effect, for the DCE to claim he doesn’t know of Challenging Heights or the projects undertaken by the organisation in his district including the establishment of Micah 6:8 Vocational School, is a clear testament of his ignorance of the developments in his district and an indication that he is not on the ground.
If Mr. Abbey-Armah is saying he isn’t aware that Challenging Heights has supported over 400 women from his district out of the 1200 women who have benefitted from the organisation’s Livelihood Programme, how sure can we be sure that this DCE has the interests of his people at heart?
Our outstanding achievements in Awutu Senya and many others nationwide were one of the reasons Challenging Heights was commended by the Parliament of Ghana in 2015 for being proactive in engaging in activities that would ensure that Child Slavery/Labour becomes a thing of the past.
We have worked very hard these past years with notable international and local organisations such as the office of the Catholic Pope (Vatican), UNICEF, U.S State Department, the Ministry of Employment, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection as well as the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of the Ghana Police Service to rescue over 1,500 child slaves from the Lake Volta and will not therefore involve ourselves in whatsoever form of commotion that will bring our hard-earned name into disrepute.
Challenging Heights will not be deterred by this regrettable incident but will stay focused on its mission of rescuing children from trafficking situations, rehabilitating victims of trafficking and providing them with quality education and also continue collaborating with MMDAs, Law Enforcement Agencies, CSOs and the Government of Ghana among others to ensure that child trafficking is eliminated in Ghana.
We wish to extend our warm appreciation to all agencies, organisations and individuals who have supported us in advocating for children’s rights and empowering women and youth economically.
We wish to particularly acknowledge the fruitful collaboration we have had with the office of the IGP, the Office of Madam Rose Bio-Atinga and the Director of the CID, Prosper Abhlor who collaborated with us to launch our Turn Back Child Trafficking Campaign, Honourable Nana Oye Lithur, whose office has firmed collaborations with Challenging Heights, the Child Labour Unit of the Ministry of Employment, the Head of NGOs at the Department of Social Welfare, Dela Ashiagbor for collaborating with us over the last decade to achieve our milestones.
We want to assure the General Public that Challenging Heights is one of the very few Ghanaian-led organisations which is not only duly registered and recognised by the Department of Social Welfare but also files annual reports to the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection every single year through the Department of Social Welfare and renews its recognition certificate each of those years.
Lucy Pomaa Arthur
Public Relations Officer