Caring community members watch out for child trafficking

“We have devoted ourself to do this work, so that our children’s future will be better.”

Rev. Isaac Odoom sees his role as a volunteer member of the Challenging Heights Child Community Protection Committee (CCPC) as one to improve children’s lives, and therefore, improve conditions in his community.

Challenging Heights relies on volunteer community members in different communities across the region to be on the lookout for what could be child trafficking. Most neighborhoods are relatively small and some religious or local leaders, like Odoom, are able to notice if they have not seen a certain child for a while. When they hear word that a child has not shown up to school, or didn’t come home after a couple days, they can then inquire within the family to see where the child is.

Parents may tell members of our CCPC that they accepted money in exchange for traffickers taking their children for what they’re told is a limited time. They say they need the money to provide for their families, but may not realize that their child could be exposed to hazardous work conditions and forced labour.

Recently, the Challenging Heights Field Team met with various CCPC groups in their respective areas. The volunteers tell our staff about any struggles they face, including things like needing some sort of business card or credible identification to present themselves to families.

One member in the Sankor-based CCPC said he recently stopped a mother from selling her son after hearing from others that she received money from a trafficker. He warned the mother that she would go to jail if she did not give the money back and send her son to school. The CCPC member will now check up on the family to make sure the child is home and that the mother has not decided to sell him after all.

Knowing that some families in the area can’t even afford breakfast, the CCPC volunteers, by way of Challenging Heights, offer to pay for food for them, as long as they don’t send their children to work on Lake Volta. Rev. Odoom acknowledged that many parents don’t have the love for their children as they should, and that children could be sent away for very little money.

While many of the children Rev. Odoom and his team are looking out for are from poor families, he says he knows how education can play a major role in changing their life direction.

“So if we help the children to have a good start in education,” explains Rev. Odoom, “when they grow up, they will know and do better.”