After rescuing a total of 20 victims of trafficking from the Volta Lake in the Volta Region at the end of May 2015, the victims have almost reached the end of their three and a half months of rehabilitation at the Child Protection Center.
During this rehabilitation period, the field coordinator has been undertaking various field trips to trace the families of the 20 rescued children, who are made up of 19 boys and 1 girl. IOM strongly believes in upholding the fundamental right of children to grow up in a family environment and will make every effort to reunite the children with parents or family members, as long as they are deemed capable of looking after the children in a responsible manner.
These tracing activities have not been without challenges relating to bad roads, relocation of families, wrong addresses, bad weather, etc. Out of the 20 children, the families of 18 have been successfully traced and the children will be reunited by the beginning of the next academic year, so that they can start attending school in their home communities. The families of the remaining 2 are still being traced. If the need arises, IOM will work with Social Welfare to find foster parents. Once the family has been identified, the field coordinator counsels the family on their responsibilities towards their children. Before being reunited with their children, the parents will sign a social contract including a commitment not to re-engage in trafficking.
Thanks to the generous support from donors like you, the 20 rescued children have now almost completed a happy and comfortable rehabilitation period, and will soon be reunited with their families who have been successfully identified.
The team continuously looks forward to more support from kind donors like you to enable these victims to benefit from a minimum of two and a half years of reintegration and monitoring to support the children’s development and give them the best chance in life.
After weeks of sensitization and registration, IOM in collaboration with the Department of Social Welfare (DSW)/Community Development (CD) in the Volta Region have rescued a total of 19 out of the targeted 20 trafficked children from 3 communities from April to May 2015. The 19 rescued children are made up of 18 boys and 1 girl who were all trafficked into the fishing sector; specifically into communities along the Volta Lake.
The children are between ages 8 to 17 years including siblings. On the average, they have been trafficked for 2 months to 10 years. During the time of their experiences, some of them worked from dawn till late in the night (up till midnight) amidst being fed with non-nutritional foods twice a day. Most of them were denied education even though a few of them have been to school before.
They are currently being rehabilitated at a Child Protection Centre in Accra. During an initial medical screening, it was determined that a few of the children; about 6, have blood in their urine (Bilharzia). This is usually caused by some bacteria in the lake. Further treatment will be given during a further medical screening during the rehabilitation process. One of them also have some skin infection (eczema) which if quite infectious but is receiving first aid to avoid its spread while waiting further medical screening and treatment. Thanks to the generous support from donors like you, the children are currently happy and comfortable at the rehabilitation Centre and look forward to a bright future.
The team is in the process of rescuing the remaining 1 child by end of May 2015 to make up for the targeted number.
Thanks to generous private donations from donors like you, IOM Ghana is set to conduct a rescue in late March 2015 to free 20 children from forced labour on Lake Volta and provide them with rehabilitation and reunification support. The first step towards achieving this rescue is to assess various fishing communities along Lake Volta.
In December 2014, the Counter Trafficking (CT) Field Coordinator (FC) led the first pre-rescue assessment mission and visited a total of 9 lakeside communities over a 4-day period. Three communities were found to have child protection concerns related to child labour while the remaining 6 communities were all identified as prone to child trafficking.
The FC, in coordination with officials from the Department of Social Welfare (DSW) and Community Development (CD), visited each of the communities to speak with community members and opinion leaders about the use of child trafficking victims. From these discussions it was clear that child trafficking exists but most of these children were out fishing at the time of the visit and were not expected to return until late in the evening. The assessment team also found that most of the communities they visited had no schools and bad roads, forcing children to walk long distances to school in another community. Additionally, many people living in these communities originate from three different tribes located in the southern part of Volta Region and they resettle to the North along Lake Volta to engage in fishing.
To address the child protection concerns, including child labour, observed in these communities, there is a need to provide community sensitization such as through the use of the IOM/UNICEF Child Protection Toolkit.
The IOM Ghana team thanks you for your continued support as we finalize preparations for the rescue, stay tuned for more information in the coming months. By working together we can make a difference and help to prevent child trafficking.
During this season of Thanksgiving, IOM Ghana is grateful to all donors and sponsors for their support. With this funding, many survivors of child trafficking have been given another opportunity to access their basic rights. IOM Ghana remembers all those children who continue to dream of the day they will escape the binds of forced labour and we honour the survivors who inspire us to do more, learn more and give more.
Currently, IOM provides direct assistance to 33 reintegrated children, who were rescued from the fishing industry on Lake Volta, with support from our partners USAIM, Breaking the Chain Through Education (BTCTE) and private donors like you. Among the most pressing needs identified by the IOM counter-trafficking team is for these children to access quality health care. Many child trafficking survivors endured years of harsh conditions working on Lake Volta; exposed to the elements, disease, and various injuries from detangling nets at the bottom of the lake .
Past experience has shown that some rescued children face difficulties in accessing health care when they fall sick. To close this gap, IOM enrols all sponsored children into the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). Holding their new cards the children’s relief is tangible with big smiles and a healthier happier stride.
Many more children await the opportunity to benefit from such assistance. We ask you to consider becoming a sponsor today so we can stop at nothing to ensure quality health care for these children. Tuesday 2 December is #GivingTuesday and is a great opportunity to start supporting children in Ghana.
We invite you to follow our activities on Facebook (International Organization for Migration Ghana & USAIM) or Twitter (@IOM_Ghana & @USAIM) and learn more about our upcoming #GhanaChildRescue 2015.
IOM Ghana is encouraging youth worldwide to reflect on the positive roles they can play in their societies.
The role of youth in development issues cannot be overemphasized as they embody the strength of any society or nation. As part of IOM Ghana’s community outreach project, supported by UNICEF, IOM has involved Ghanaian youth as community volunteers in a training on child protection. The training is based on a 12 module toolkit that seeks to ensure the holistic protection of children and prevention of child trafficking in Ghana. The toolkit features topics such as community responsibility, child protection, child trafficking, children’s rights, the realities of child labour, and good parenting, to name a few.
One year ago IOM Ghana trained 21 youth volunteers selected from six communities in three districts of the Volta region of Ghana; to empower them with the requisite knowledge on child protection and trafficking issues.
In September and October 2013, toolkit sessions were conducted by these youth facilitators, supported by the IOM Counter-Trafficking staff. With a strong sense of commitment, they were able to educate over 7,389 community members (including men, women and children) in six Volta communities.
As a result of their hard work, some child abuse cases were identified and referred for assistance. These trained youth also helped some community members to voluntarily rescue their children from suspected situations of trafficking.
The second phase of this IOM project is currently underway. An additional training was held for the youth in July 2014 to review issues related to the harsh realities of child labour, trafficking laws, good parenting, and self-protection for children, among other topics.
Trained youth from the six Volta communities will conduct toolkit rollout sessions from August to October 2014, in an effort to reinforce information provided last year and to encourage community discussion of child protection and child trafficking issues.
To the youth of Ghana, especially to our community volunteers, we say thank you for your support.
We also take this opportunity to encourage both private and corporate donors to support the efforts of IOM Ghana to promote child protection and prevent child trafficking. By working together we can make a difference and help to prevent child trafficking.
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