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Colombia has a history of human trafficking. In 2001, the International Organisation for Migration1 set up a programme to fight against the transfer of individuals done with the aim of exploiting them, whether inside or outside of the country.

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Acts of Bravery Acts of Bravery

Within an antique farmland dwelled two turtles inside a fallen tree trunk. Temperatures had dropped dramatically and were lower than they had been in the past five years.

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Research shows that South Africa has the worst education system compared to other countries (Ngozo & Mtantato, 2018). This may come as a surprise to many readers, recognizing South Africa as one of the more politically and economically stable countries on the continent, with such metropolitan hubs such as Johannesburg and Capetown.

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Nkomazi is a rural area of South Africa, east of Johannesburg, where most young people have access to both primary and secondary schools, but the offerings of these schools are infamously poor in quality.

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Hay muchos países en los que la educación es un derecho, tanto como hay otros donde es un privilegio. La presencia de un sistema de educación que sea bueno y estable es fundamental. No es necesario enfatizar lo necesario que es la educación para un desarrollo sostenible que pueda brindar una vida digna a poblaciones enteras.

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Challenging Heights Rescues 42 More Children From Slavery

December 10, 2018

Challenging Heights in collaboration with the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana Navy, the Department of Social Welfare, and its international partners, Abolish Slavery Now, have over the weekend rescued 42 more children from forced labor in Lake Volta.

The rescued children comprised of four girls and 38 boys between the ages of 5 and 16. These rescued children were sold from communities in the Central and Greater Accra Regions, to the lake for the purposes of labor exploitation. It took the rescue team nearly two months of investigations and searching to achieve this success.

All the children would go through Rehabilitation, and subsequently be re-united with their families.

Over the years Challenging Heights has been in cooperation with the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection (MoGCSP), as well as the Ghana Police Service, with respect to rescues, policies and national advocacy aimed at putting an end to Child Trafficking in Ghana.

Challenging Heights works in several communities across Ghana to rescue, rehabilitate and reintegrate children who have been affected by trafficking and worst forms of child labor, as well as build community resilience against trafficking of children.

Last year, Challenging Heights, together with its partners, rescued 91 children made up of 74 boys and 17 girls, all from forced labour on Lake Volta. This year the organization and its partners have so far rescued over 100 children.

Since its inception in 2003, the organization and its partners have so far rescued over 1,600 children from the Lake Volta.

We would like to thank all those who supported this operations; the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana Navy, the Department of Social Welfare, and Abolish Slavery Now, who all have stood by us in the face of the mountain difficulties.

We will like to take this opportunity to ask for the Ghanaian government to invest at least GHC15million annually, to resource the Human Trafficking Secretariat, and the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of the Ghana Police Service, in order for them to have the capacity to do their work, as well as enforcing the Human Trafficking Law 2005.

Finally, we feel troubled that some MPs, and other politicians, by their actions, seem to be supporting and emboldening some of the fishermen to launch attacks on our leadership, staff and rescue facilities. We are therefore calling on the Police Administration to extend maximum security protection to the staff and facilities of Challenging Heights against traffickers, and their sympathizers who are presently ruffled by the rescues that have taken place.



This post was written by James Kofi Annan, President

In Support of #FootballPeople Action Weeks

October 15, 2018

 

I have to admit, I’m not a huge sports fan. My small Canadian high school offered only volleyball for girls, and I sat on the bench most of the time. To be honest, I was happier sitting in my room strumming my guitar anyway. But my work in the development field is the spark that has ignited my appreciation for and belief in sports as an agent of social change.

Three years ago, Challenging Heights founded the Winneba United Foundation, a football club for youth at-risk for child trafficking. The majority of the children we rescue from modern slavery on Lake Volta are boys between the ages of 6 and 15, originally hailing from Winneba. Traffickers use deceptive tactics, such as promising to provide for a child’s health, education, and general well-being, and offer enticing sums of money to financially struggling caregivers, who often believe they are making the best decision for their child by sending them away. Poverty, naivete, and lack of access to education all contribute to the endemic nature of trafficking in this community, but we have the capacity to address these three interrelated issues through football.

In our community, lack of access to education contributes to child trafficking on multiple levels. When children are not in school, they are more susceptible to trafficking. They are more likely to be involved in petty trading, and they don’t have school commitments tying them to a particular location. Secondly, these children miss out on education about their rights that would make them more resistant to trafficking. An informed child becomes a powerful agent in protecting both themselves and their friends from the deceptive tactics of traffickers. Finally, these uneducated children grow up with fewer employment options and become trapped in the same cycle of poverty that has driven generation after generation of parents to extreme measures to try to take care their children. If we can break this cycle, we can stop the flow of children from source communities to Lake Volta, and the end of child slavery on the Lake will be in sight.

The Winneba United Foundation addresses all of these issues. All of our players are required to be enrolled and active in school, and to that end, we support our players with school fees and supplies when needed so that no one need be excluded for lack of resources. We also take time to educate our players and fans about the reality of life on the Lake, the tactics that traffickers might use, and their rights as children and as human beings. Players and staff look out for one another. If a member of the team were to go to the Lake, he would already have a built-in support system that would notice, know who to call, and be dedicated to bringing him back. The Foundation offers a unique solution to social problems in our context here in Winneba, but sports have the potential to serve as a medium to address all manner of challenges worldwide.

With this hope in mind, we lend our support to the many great organisations participating in the Fare Network’s #FootballPeople action weeks, addressing a broad range of issues including racism, ableism, refugee rights, and diversity in football. Fare partnered with us to put on our own under-13 tournament in July, sparking a broader movement of youth football initiatives in Winneba and the surrounding area. Challenging Heights, the Winneba United Foundation, and the local youth football community are deeply grateful. We will be following #FootballPeople with interest, and we look forward to the stories and the social change that will come out of these activities.

So if you’re like me and you’d rather scroll through Twitter than embarrass yourself on the field, follow Fare (@farenet) and #FootballPeople and get excited about what is possible when we come together around sport for social change.

 

This post was written by Lauren Thuringer, Grants Officer

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

In a country where 1.9 million children 5 to 17 years of age are engaged in some form of child labor, ensuring Ghanaian youth receive an adequate education can be challenging. Ghana easily reached their Education Millennium Development Goal and High School is now free throughout the country. Clearly, Ghana’s efforts in education are unparalleled in the African continent. Yet, more than 500,000 Ghanaian children are still not enrolled in primary school and despite tremendous progress, too many Ghanaian youth continue to be forced into child labor and denied the opportunity to attend school. With your support, Challenging Heights is helping many of these young children reach for a brighter future by giving them the care they need and placing education at the forefront of our fight against child trafficking in Ghana. The support Challenging Heights has received from countries such as the Netherlands and Australia, exemplifies the importance of our global network of generous donors in helping us to develop our impactful educational programs. For example, thanks to the help of a Dutch NGO, we have launched Youth Empowerment Programs which give our youth the ability to learn employable skills such as phone and satellite repair. We have also come to realize the significance of small class sizes at the shelter in order to ensure every student can receive valuable one-on-one time with their teachers. Our small class sizes create a comfortable environment for students to immerse themselves in the learning process, engage with their teachers and peers and ask important questions. In another instance, after hearing about the importance of education in the prevention of child trafficking, the organization Australian AID donated money to Challenging Heights to help us construct an up-to-date computer lab for our students. While we have much more work to do in fighting child trafficking in Ghana, we are certain that our impactful educational programs are making a big difference in the lives of each child here at Challenging Heights – we are empowering them to expand their horizons and set their sights on far greater heights. Written By Intern: Jack Payne

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.