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On World Day Against Child Labour, we draw your attention to the plight of child fishing slaves on Lake Volta.  Each year thousands of children are trafficked to Lake Volta.  Traffickers trick, coerce and manipulate parents into selling their children.  The children are on-sold to fishermen, who become the children’s slave masters.  The children are forced to work day and night, receive regular beatings, risk drowning through being forced to dive into the lake and go days without food.

The horror that child fishing slaves endure on the Lake Volta is captured in the story of Kwesi from Senya.  This year the World Children’s Prize, a world-wide child rights program, has featured Kwesi’s harrowing tale (see The Globe, pp 50 – 69:

At age 10, Kwesi’s father died and in order to pay the funeral debt, his mother was forced to give him to a trafficker, who took him to Lake Volta.  On Lake Volta, Kwesi endured great physical abuse at the hands of his slave master, precarious working conditions where he almost drowned, constant psychological torment and persistent hunger.  As part of the World Children’s Prize 27 million children across 108 countries will learn about Kwesi’s horrific story and triumph.
Continue Reading…

Click on the links above under Support Our Work>Sponsor a Child to learn more about our unique program for child sponsorship!

James and Kwesi

Challenging Heights’ own Senior James is one of three nominees for this year’s World’s Children’s Prize! Read profiled stories of children Challenging Heights has freed from slavery and watch the short feature video!

IMG_0974The Financial Times of London recently visited Challenging Heights, resulting in an in-depth feature article on the work of the organization. An FT journalist and photographer visited Challenging Heights as part of their profile of organizations supported by the Global Fund for Children, one of CH’s first donors.

James Kofi Annan, President of Challenging Heights

James Kofi Annan, President of Challenging Heights

Article by James:

June 12, 2012 is World Day Against Child Labor. The theme for this year is “Human Rights and Social Justice, let’s end child labor”. Challenging Heights joins in celebrating the successes achieved so far, and in recounting the challenges faced.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) defines child labor as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potentials and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development. Such work usually deprives children of the opportunity to attend school. According to the ILO, “extreme forms of child labor involves children being enslaved, separated from their families, exposed to serious hazards and illnesses and/or left to fend for themselves on the streets of large cities – often at a very early age”. Continue Reading…

By Christine Robinson
Second-Year MBA, Consumer Marketing Academy

Kelley College MBA students gives to CH

Kelley College MBA students gives to CH

MBA candidates at the Kelley School of Business have shown their commitment to giving back at two recent events, where combined the students raised over $1200 for the anti-trafficking NGO,Challenging Heights.

The first of these events was a Black History Month Dinner which took place on Friday, February 3rd at the Indiana Memorial Union and was put on by the Black MBA Association.  The event was a celebration of Black History that reflected on the history of slavery in American and brought to light the worldwide existence of slavery today. GLOBASE Ghana partner and former child slave, James Kofi Annan was the keynote speaker.  At the event James shared his story of survival, a story that depicts his knowledge of both what it feels like to be enslaved and what it feels like to be free.  It was these contrasting aspects of his experience that led him come to the realization that “To whom much is given, much is expected.”  With this motto, James founded Challenging Heights, a NGO in Ghana whose mission is “to ensure a secured, protected, and dignified future and life for children and youth by promoting their rights, education, and health.”  Over $800 was raised for Challenging Heightsat this event. $800 will cover the average costs of rescuing two children from slavery or cover the education costs for over 3 children for a full year.

The second event was a Slavery Sucks benefit on Thursday, February 16th at The Bluebird, that was put on by the GLOBASE GhanaStudent Leadership Team.  The Slavery Sucks benefit was an opportunity for Kelley MBA students to take a stand against modern day slavery, by publicly stating that “slavery sucks” through either their attendance and/or their donation.  Local businesses such as Crazy Horse, Wine and Canvas, The Bluebird, and Restaurant Talent donated raffle prizes for the event.  An additional $420 was raised at this event for Challenging Heights.

GLOBASE Ghana participants look forward to giving back further when they visit Challenging Heights in Ghana over spring break where they will be able to see first hand the children and great work ofChallenging Heights, work that the Kelley MBA Students’ donations will help fund.

Emage-for-BECE-candidatesChallenging Heights wishes all candidates well in this year’s Basic Education Certificate Examinations which is starting from Monday April 16 to Friday April 20, 2012.

May all the over 376,000 participating candidates achieve the results they deserve.

We wish to remind them to avoid any form of cheating before, during and after the examinations. The WAEC law (Act 719) makes it an offence for any candidate to cheat before, during or after the examinations. When caught, their papers can be cancelled or they could go to jail.

We acknowledge that sometimes other candidates’ cheating leads to the punishment of innocent people. That is why we will like to encourage the candidates to be bold and report anybody, including teachers, head of schools, invigilators, and WAEC officials who attempt to help others to cheat whether before, during or after the examinations. Continue Reading…

Dr. Margaret Sackey, Chair of CH

Dr. Margaret Sackey, Chair of CH

Dr. Mrs. Margaret Sackey has been appointed the new Chairperson of Challenging Heights Board of Directors effective September 1, 2011. She replaces Madam Sheila Acquah-Asare, whose tenure ended early this year. This was made known at the last Board meeting held in Accra last week.

Mrs. Margaret Sackey holds Ph.D in Education and MA in International Affairs. She has obtained several certificates in the area of Gender Studies, Public Administration and Personnel Management. She is an accomplished child protection expert having been the National Programme Coordinator for the ILO’s International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (Time Bound Program) and West African Anti Child Trafficking Project (LUTRENA) both of which focused on eliminating child labour, child trafficking and promoting child rights protection in several sectors of the Ghanaian economy. Dr Sackey has several years of public service experience having worked in senior positions within the public service including serving as a Director at the Ministry of Information and Executive Secretary of the Ghana National Commission on Children (GNCC).

Challenging Heights is a child-centered organization established to promote education, fight against child labor, and to promote community development. Since 2005, the organization has won 6 major international awards, and grown from supporting 29 children per a year, to supporting over 1,100 across its programs each year. It currently operates in 6 districts including Effutu, Senya-Breku, Agona West, Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa, and Gomoa East.

Other members of the Board of Directors of Challenging Heights are Mrs. Joyce Odame, Child Rights Coordinator (Plan Ghana), Mrs. Esther Sankah, Lecturer, Central University College, Mrs. Nafi Chinery, Capacity Building Officer at African Women Development Fund (AWDF), James Kofi Annan (Executive Director of Challenging Heights), George Essel (a manger at MTN), and Jeffrey Boyd, the Executive Director of Hovde Foundation.

The board meeting also adopted a new Challenging Heights constitution, and approved proposed organizational reforms, including the abolition of the position of Executve Didrector, and the creation of the position of the President.

In an interview with the new chair, she said “I have watched, closely, as Challenging Heights started, and I am excited to be chairing its board at this critical stage of the organization’s work. Such credible and powerfully led indigenous organizations are not many in Africa. Ghana indeed has a lot of future in Challenging Heights. I am determined to give off my best to steer it to achieve more laurels”.

James Kofi Annan, President of Challenging Heights

James Kofi Annan, President of Challenging Heights

By James Kofi Annan, President, Challenging Heights

The winners of the first Grinnell College Young Innovator for Social Justice Prize were announced in May 2011. According to the college, The Grinnell Prize honors individuals under the age of 40 who have demonstrated leadership in their fields and show creativity, commitment, and extraordinary accomplishment in effecting positive social change. Yours truly, 37 years old, became one of the first recipients of the maiden awards. According to Grinnell College, the 2011 winners were selected from more than 1,000 nominations from 66 countries.

As I celebrate this coveted prize, I am deeply humbled by the road thus far. Seven years of forced labor, and 15 years of raw hunger and deprivation did not stop me from becoming a university graduate, nor did it stop me from becoming a banker. In fact, it still has not stopped me from continuing to aspire. It has only succeeded in bringing me to a point of thinking, day-by-day, of the essence of life – the lives of others.

So this prize, $100,000 in total, means to me that more boys and girls will be saved from slavery, and more of them will have the opportunity to go to school.

Ghana is a country of origin, transit, and destination for children subjected to forced labor and trafficking. Despite the provisions in the country’s constitution and its Human Trafficking Act, which prohibits all forms of trafficking, many forms of trafficking still exist. Continue Reading…

The 2012 Stop Modern Slavery Walk in Washington DC calls for organizations,  businesses, student bodies, and passionate individuals alike to stand up against modern slavery around the world today. On September 29th 2012, supporters will gather at the National Monument to show their commitment to the cause and unite in the global movement to end all forms of modern day slavery.

Challenging Heights has been named as a beneficiary of this year’s events, with a goal to raise $25,000. Please join the CH team or donate to help us reach this goal!