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Its Family Time!

The family visit day is one of the key events on the Challenging Heights Hovde House’s calendar. The day is always met with so much excitement, anxiety and a bittersweet feeling as the children get to see their immediate families. Some of these family members of which were in a way responsible for the ordeal, after quite a significant amount of years in slavery. Organizing such an event is therefore important as it usually becomes the first step on a journey to reconciliation as well as reunification. Prior to the event, the children are counselled and helped as much as possible to deal with the pain or bitterness they feel towards any of their relatives.

Once the relatives reached the Hovde House, they are informed by the reintegration officers, the importance of making the children feel as secured and loved as much as possible. They are first taking through a period of training with the staff at the facility, on the progress, needs and concerns of the children who are going to be reintegrated. They are then given some bit of guidelines on what to talk about with the kids once they finally get interactive with them. This is done to ensure that they do not speak about issues that could trigger the reoccurrence of any trauma or put the child in a bad mood after the relatives have left.

The most recent of this event was held on the 26th of July, when the Challenging Heights bus conveyed the families of the children expected to be reintegrated later this month to the Hovde House. The relatives were mostly from Winneba and Senya, two of the most notable source communities of trafficked children. The parents were taking through the routine prepping as the expectant children tried to keep their eyes in the classroom and hide their visible excitement. The usual issues such as the dangers of trafficking, the activities and the progress of the yet to be reintegrated children were talked about by the various staff at the centre.

Opanyin Kojo, a fisherman all the way from Yeji, shared a confession after the opportunity was given for the visiting families make contributions and ask questions. “Honestly, I just decided to represent the family of one of the kids here because I wanted to know exactly what Challenging Heights does, since I see them almost every year coming to rescue some of the children we work with on the lake. I must admit that I am pleasantly surprised and would do well to spread the good news when I go back to Yeji.” The other relatives also shared similar views of gratitude to the organization for giving their children the chance at life again.

The opportunity the children had been waiting for all day came when they closed after school. The hugs, smiles, surprises and even some occasional tears of joy glittered every area of the Hovde House. To some, it felt like a long journey finally reaching its stopping point while to others, it was the day they had a family once again. The children ended their day by having a photoshoot with their respective families before they headed back home. With waves and smiles, the kids waved the bus as it took its gentle steps out of the house, knowing that somewhere in their original homes, they have a family longing and yearning to receive them when the time comes.

Written By Intern: Kofi Agyei-Poku

Challenging Heights rescues children trapped in forced hazardous labour on Lake Volta.

Challenging Heights rescues children trapped in forced hazardous labour on Lake Volta.

Challenging Heights has just rescued another 24 children trapped in child trafficking in fishing on Lake Volta. This brings the total children rescued by the organization since January to 40.

All these children, aged 6 to 16 years old, are supposed to be in school – but that is not the case. Instead they were enslaved in forced labour, spending an average of 17 hours a day working in hazardous conditions on Lake Volta.

Shamefully, while these children are forced to work and denied an education, their masters often use the income from their sweat to fund their own children’s education; some of them have become university graduates!

It is this social injustice against children that Challenging Heights is committed to addressing. Challenging Heights believes that it is the right of every school-aged child in Ghana to have access to quality and affordable education

Undoubtedly, child trafficking is still rife in Ghana. The good news is that as a country we have long known how to eliminate it, with clear directives captured in the 2011-2015 National Plan of Action (NPA) towards the Elimination of Worst Forms of Child Labour (WFCL).

With the NPA due to expire in less than two months time, 75% of what was planned has not been achieved.

Challenging Heights hereby calls on the Government of Ghana through the various ministries, units and department to render account to Ghanaians of what they have achieved so far in the face of the NPA and what their plans are until December when the NPA expires.

Following each rescue, Challenging Heights provides temporary rehabilitation support to all the children at the Challenging Heights Hovde House. Once they complete the rehabilitation process we reintegrate them back to their families and follow them up through planned monitoring for two years, providing educational support to children and livelihoods support to carers to ensure they remain safe.

We believe every child should be allowed to realize their rights to education and a family life, so that they can pursue their dreams and future aspirations.

For  interviews contact:
David Kofi Awusi, Advocacy Manager
+233 240 577480
advocacyCHghana@gmail.com
challengingheights.org