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EveryChild and Ghanaian organisation Challenging Heights have joined forces to combat the exploitation of children in two regions of Ghana. The country is one of the poorest in the world, ranked 135 out of 187 on the human development index. Crippling poverty and a lack of schools, healthcare and other basic services in the areas where we work, have created an environment where children are extremely vulnerable to being trafficked into the local fishing industry. Traffickers often prey on desperate parents, tricking them into sending their children to work with promises of a good education. With nowhere to turn, parents or relatives feel forced to sell children in to employment with the hope of boosting the family income.
Challenging Heights has been working to change the lives of children in forced labour and those at risk of being trafficked since 2003. The organisation was founded by James Kofi Annan who was just six when he was forced to work in Lake Volta’s fishing industry. James was able to escape his work and now uses his experiences to help other children realise and demand their rights.
Together with EveryChild, Challenging Heights is carrying out a research project exploring the scale of the exploitation and the issues vulnerable children face in Awutu Senya District and Effutu Municipal Assembly. This research will give children the chance to speak out about their lives and enable us to develop even more effective ways of preventing others from being trafficked in the future.
We are also working with families to enable them to become stronger financially so that children are not forced into work. We support parents and guardians through difficult times so that families do not separate. When families breakdown, children are often left without the protection of their parents, leaving them exposed to exploitation. We help families stay together by working with them to develop new ways of making a regular income, providing the materials children need to go to school and giving emotional support through counselling sessions. Challenging Heights and EveryChild raise awareness of the dangers of trafficking and the importance of education and support community members to protect their local children. We aim to bring positive changes for these children in the long term by developing the skills of local child protection committees so that they are able to continue working without external support for generations to come.
Working in partnership, EveryChild, Challenging Heights and the communities we support will ensure Ghana’s most vulnerable children can look forward to a positive future free from exploitation and poverty.