Archives For Partnerships

Earlier this year, the students of Castle View High School in Castle View, Colorado choose Challenging Heights as the recipient of their annual Make a Difference Week fundraising campaign. In just a short week, these committed student were able to raise more than $30,000 for Challenging Heights.

We were able to use those funds to build three new classrooms at what is now Friends International Academy, the school that Challenging Heights founded 10 years ago. As the reputation of the school and the high levels of the students’ performance has spread throughout Winneba, enrolment has steadily increased. The growing student body has triggered a need for more classrooms, which we were able to make a reality with the help of Castle View High School.

This strong connection between Castle View High School and Challenging Heights prompted some of the teachers at CVHS to consider a fundraising and service learning trip to Ghana with Challenging Heights. Once again, the generosity of the students was great, and 16 students were able to raise more than $8,000 for Challenging Heights to combat child trafficking and modern slavery.

During their week spent with us, they tackled a new paint job for the Hovde House shelter, reading with the students at Friends International Academy, helping out at the Hand in Hand for Literacy Library and assisting with the distribution of TOMS shoes to children in need in Winneba. They also spent time at the beach, visiting tourist sites and walking in the canopy of Kakum National Park.

The students and chaperones came away with a greater understanding of the problem of modern slavery in Ghana and globally and a sense of commitment to wanting to continue a partnership with CH in the years to come. We at CH are delighted to have gained more than 20 new advocates and ambassadors for our mission and look forward to a lasting friendship.

Download pdf: Challenging Heights (CH) Impact Assessment (IA) Terms of Reference (ToR)

Location: Winneba (Central Region, Ghana), with travel to Senya (central Region, Ghana) and Yegi (Brong-Ahafo, Ghana).

Position: Evaluation and Monitoring Consultancy.

Contract type: individual.

Languages Required: English; Fante, Twi or Efuttu and advantage.

Competencies: Cultural sensitivity; understanding of development needs in Ghana; awareness of drivers of human trafficking; commitment to participatory approaches; excellent interpersonal, communication and interview skills; excellent report writing and presentation skills; excellent quantitative and qualitative analysis skills.

Experience: proven track record in monitoring and evaluation in an international development context; substantial portfolio of evaluations, including process, outcome and impact, preferably in West Africa; demonstrable research experience in data collection, statistical analysis, presentation and writing;

Application Deadline: 31st March 2015.

Starting Date: May 2015 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Contract period: 6 months.

Fee: $7,000 inclusive of all expenses (including data collection related travel and subsistence).



An estimated 193,1000 Ghanaians live in conditions of modern slavery, as calculated in the 2014 Global Slavery Index.  The International Labour Organisation/International Programme on Elimination of Child Labour (ILO/IPEC) Analytical Study on Child Labour In Lake Volta Fishing in Ghana (August 2013) estimates that there 49,000 Children working on in the fishing industry on Lake Volta, with 21,000 forced to undertake hazardous child labour.

According to the 2010 Ghana Population and Housing Census, there are over 2.4million “economically active” children (between the ages of 5 and 17) in Ghana. The International Labour Organisation/Ghana Government 2003 Child Labour Survey estimated that over a million children in Ghana are denied education because of the need to work instead of attending school, and that an estimated 240,0000 were victims of hazardous child labour.



Challenging Heights promotes youth and family empowerment and children’s rights to education and freedom from forced labour in Ghana. We provide holistic care of trafficked children in forced labour through their rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration. To ensure the security and future of former child slaves we undertake long-term monitoring with educational support, which is made sustainable through livelihoods empowerment and sensitization of their families and communities. We advocate at a national level to bring about systemic change to end modern slavery in and improve children’s rights and lives in Ghana.

Challenging Heights was founded by James Kofi Annan, himself a former child slave on Lake Volta for seven years, to ensure no other child would have to endure what he went through. It is a grass roots organization that has grown up working in the source communities (where children are most vulnerable to trafficking) with many of the staff former beneficiaries of programmes.  For his work with Challenging Heights James has won a number of international awards including the 2013 World’s Children’s Prize.

We collaborate with a number of local and international education and anti-trafficking organisations, including Family for Every Child, Walk Free, Free the Slaves, Made in a Free World (Slavery Footprint), Freedom for All, Hand in Hand for Literacy, Empower, Learn4Work and Reach for Change, the Mercy Project and International Justice Mission, amongst others, to implement various empowerment and livelihoods programmes that are critical in ensuring the long term security of rescued children. A key part of our strategy is developing community capacity to combat trafficking through the establishment of Community Child Protection Committees (CCPCs) and Child Rights Clubs (CRCs). We also engage with state actors and have close working relationships with Social Welfare and the Police (both locally and at the national level, especially the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit), who support and authorise our rescue and care of children.  We have collaborated on prosecutions and raids and in resolving child welfare and related community issues.



In February 2015 Challenging Heights will have been operating as an NGO in Ghana for ten years.  During that time we have directly rescued hundreds from slavery and supported thousands more children and young people in achieving their rights and accessing education.  As an organisation we seek to make all our services and programmes more effective and efficient, and continuously revise our activities to better meet the needs of our beneficiaries, our strategic goals and changing circumstances.

As the organisation has grown, however, a more rigorous analysis and monitoring of our work is required, both to provide evidence based programme revisions and to show our impact to existing and potential future funding partners.  We are currently developing better monitoring systems that would support a comprehensive impact assessment of the organisation’s work. To do so we are drawing on knowledge gained through participation in a Family for Every Child International Effective Program Standard Workshop as well as current staff expertise in monitoring, evaluation and research methodology.



We seek delivery of an organisation wide assessment to measure the impact of current and past (but potentially future) programmes on the lives of our intended beneficiaries, both directly (e.g. improved circumstances) and indirectly (e.g. societal changes), with particular focus on synergies of interrelated activities.



  • To gain a comprehensive and verifiable understanding of Challenging Heights’s impact effectiveness and sustainability.



The evaluation should address the following questions:

  1. What impacts has Challenging Heights has had on the lives of children and young people in Ghana, their families and communities, through its work to date?
    • What factors have contributed to achieving these impacts?
    • What is the reach of each of these impacts (how many beneficiaries and level of benefit)?
  2. How do the impacts achieved relate to the objectives of each programme/activity?
    • To what extend have the objectives of individual projects been achieved?
    • What factors have contributed to any disparity and how can they be mitigated in future?
  3. To what extent have beneficiaries been empowered by the work of Challenging Heights?
    • What number and proportion of beneficiaries have achieved independence?
    • What ongoing support is required by different beneficiary groups?
  4. How could future programmes be improved?
    • What changes should be made to existing programmes to achieve greater and more sustainable impact?
    • What developments should be made to operations to better capture impact?
    • What resources are likely to be required to implement these?


Key Deliverables

  • Work plan with clear timelines, participatory methodology and data collection protocols;
  • Draft report summarising key findings;
  • Final report, which should address the above questions.


Expected outcomes

With regard to children and young people in Ghana, especially those from underserved communities, and their families, Challenging Heights

  • better understands their needs and circumstances, and is thus better positioned to engage with and support them, and help them develop and become empowered;
  • is in a stronger position to provide evidence-based advocacy for effective support and interventions on their behalf;
  • campaigns more effectively for support and funding for its work in serving their needs.


Approach and methodology

We are keen to undertake a participatory approach, which we believe is achievable given the long term and deep engagement that we have with beneficiary communities. Although we expect a core component of our evaluation to be a traditional questionnaire/beneficiary survey to capture raw data from our programmes, we believe it is necessary to involve stakeholders at different levels in order to properly assess the impact of different interventions. Workshops with our key beneficiary groups: former victims of slavery; vulnerable children; disadvantaged youth; economically disempowered women and; carers for the above; will be run for them to define our monitoring process and evaluation criteria. This process will help identify problems and generate recommendations for selecting information-gathering tools.

Full requirements are set out in the implementation schedule below.

Implementation schedule


Stage Output Function Deliverable Responsibility Deadline
     I.        Data and document Preparation

1.           Queriable database of beneficiaries for each programme


1.1.      efficient reporting to (funding) partners;

1.2.      analysis of programmes outputs;

1.3.      deeper understanding of beneficiary constituency being served;

1.4.      Investigation of key actors and partners in programmes (e.g. identify prominent child traffickers or consistently successful employment routes);

A.       Database of current beneficiaries

B.       Collated historic programme reports and data

Challenging Heights



A.   February 2015

B.   March 2015

   II.        Recruitment

2.           M&E consultant engaged


2.1.      Execute Impact Assessment C.       Contract signed Challenging Heights (supported by EMpower) C. April 2015
 III.        Participatory research and evaluation

3.           Performance assessment of past and current programmes


3.1.      efficient development, revision or termination of projects as appropriate;

3.2.      reporting impact to partners and stakeholders;

3.3.      strategic planning of future operations and programmes.

D.      Desk review and analysis of existing data and field staff consultation

E.       Work plan with clear timelines, participatory methodology and data collection protocols

F.       Field engagement including subgroup workshops, stakeholder interviews and quantitative data surveys.





D. June 2015

E. June 2015

F. August 2015

4.           Identification of existing and potential links between current and planned programmes

4.1.      more efficient resource management (e.g. shared facilities, training modules and staff);

4.2.      exploiting synergies through appropriate selection of beneficiary families and individuals within distinct programmes;

4.3.      achieving complementarity in approaches and outcomes at a community level;

5.           Gap-analysis of current service provision in meeting needs of target communities to:


5.1.      develop existing programmes

5.2.      instigate new programmes

5.3.      identify scope for partnerships with other civil society/third sector, state and commercial organisations;

6.           Develop an M&E framework for ongoing use


6.1.      Continuous monitoring of programmes that assists development;

6.2.      Periodic evaluation of programmes that assist reporting impact;

6.3.      Transparency of operations underpinning organisational integrity.

 IV.        Reporting 7.           Publish and disseminate results

7.1.      Share findings with partners and stakeholders


G.      Feedback workshop presenting draft report with stakeholders reviewing key findings

H.       Final report

The report should  include an executive summary of key findings and address the critical questions through the following sections:

a)   Comprehensive account of programmes to date;

b)   verifiable and estimated reach broken down by beneficiary type, programme and community;

c)   verifiable and estimated impact  on lives broken down by beneficiary type, programme and community;

d)   factors affecting effectiveness and sustainability of impacts;

e)   Existing and potential synergy between activities and programmes;

f)    Recommended cross-organisational Monitoring and Evaluation framework;

g)   Recommendations for strategic direction of organization;

h)   Appendix detailing methodology and results, with evaluation of approach highlighting limitations


G. September 2014

H. October 2015


Applications Process: please send proposal letter with comprehensive Curriculum Vitae, including two named referees, to marked F.A.O. Vice-President

In order to prepare for our own TOMS shoe distribution; Challenging Heights programs team took a trip to Gomoa Ekroful in the Central region of Ghana on invite by Bright Generation Community Foundation, a TOMS Giving Partner.

Teachers from diverse schools gathered with their students at a local school to receive a new pair of TOMS Shoes. The shoes were distributed to the different teachers who later dispersed the shoes amongst the children. We were happy to provide a helping hand and to see a distribution in action.

As the children grow, TOMS plans to continue sending shoes, and Challenging Heights will act as a distributor in seven different communities. We are keen to work with local schools and child protection services to reach the most vulnerable children.

Through this experience we are now better suited to take on our own distribution. Our first shipment will come with a large number of new shoes and we are excited to tackle the challenge. We are looking forward to see the local children wearing TOMS Shoes on their daily commutes to school.


Challenging Heights —  February 14, 2014

Challenging Heights has welcomed volunteers from different part of the world since 2009. Volunteers can be a valuable resource, bringing novel skills and expertise as well as offering local staff a better understanding of other cultures. Most volunteers would also acknowledge that they gain a huge amount from being with our organisation, and that they receive at least as much as they give. If the balance is right then such a cultural exchange can be a beneficial learning experience for everyone involved.

Volunteer interacting with Challenging Heights client

(photo: Anne L Geissinger)

February has been a month of contrasts for Challenging Heights. On the one hand, we were sad to say goodbye to Tom Reddington, who had worked with us as the Special Operations Manager for over a year. Supported by AUSAID, Tom had time to make friends with the staff, pick up some of the local languages and get to know the organization really well. His new job is back home in Australia, and I am sure his time with Challenging Heights will have made him an even more attractive employee.

On the other hand, we were happy to welcome, for the first time, a large group of lifelong learners, who stayed for just two weeks. Their aim was to stock and catalogue the Challenging Heights School library (more on this in future blogs!) and hopefully becoming future ambassadors for the organization. Theirs must have been a whirlwind experience of Ghana, but they were enthusiastic to see as much as possible to better understand the complex factors that lead to children being trafficked into forced labour. I think they were inspired by our work and look forward to a lasting relationship with each of them.

Perhaps the most powerful contribution volunteers can make to an NGO like Challenging Heights is to share their new found knowledge and experience and raise awareness – wherever they are – of the injustices that exist in the world. In an ideal world our organisation would not need to exist, but while slavery and other human rights abuses occur our work must continue. While we hope everyone in the world is moved to help where they can – and progress can only be made if it is achieved at every level, from rescuing children off the lake right up to politicians enacting and enforcing just laws – amongst foreigners volunteers are perhaps best placed to help others understand the need.

I would like to thank each and every volunteers for what they have contributed but also ask them to recognize how much they have gained – and to remember that, “to whom much is given, much is expected”!