The IOM counter-trafficking team in Ghana is moving swiftly ahead with plans to implement a new child trafficking and child protection campaign in 2013 called Free To Be Me. The initiative was officially launched in November 2012, and aims to building the capacity of local communities to address and prevent child trafficking and protection violations occurring in the Volta region of Ghana. With support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), IOM is developing a toolkit set to be piloted in 6 communities in Ketu South & North and South Tongu Districts of Ghana’s Volta Region in 2013.
In order to achieve these goals IOM counter-trafficking Field Coordinators conducted a week-long outreach effort in February to meet with government, non-government organizations, community leaders and members. The Free To Be Me toolkit was introduced and input was sought at each meeting.
In the field, the team met with local counter-parts and officials within the North Tongu and South Tongu Districts and Ketu South Municipality. These visits were meant to discuss the toolkit and to pinpoint and understand the problems facing children living in the community from the perspective of the teachers, parents, children, district officials, and chiefs and elders. This information will then be complied and the toolkit will be adjusted to reflect local perspectives on child trafficking and child protection issues.
The meeting with counterparts in South Tongu focused on issues of poverty and parental neglect as causes of child abuse within the district. They emphasized the need for livelihood assistance such as irrigation projects so parents can better take care of their children and live up to their responsibilities. Meanwhile, in North Tongu, local representatives and leaders embraced the project and looked forward to being part of the input and testing process for the toolkit. The main outcome of these discussions revealed that religion and poverty are impacting child protection issues/problems for communities in this region.
The team also traveled to five communities in: North Tongu District, Ketu South Municipality and South Tongu District to hold focus group discussions with school children, teachers, chief/elders, women and the community. The purpose of these meetings was to bring out child protection issues within the communities and suggested solutions. Within all communities, issues relating to education, health and parental care were very prominent.
On the whole, outreach visits were found to be very fruitful despite of the tight time-table. The team will now focus on consolidating information and refining the toolkit.
We invite you to be part of our efforts to help raise awareness on child trafficking and child protection in the Volta region. With your support we can reach many more vulnerable communities and help to rescue and rehabilitate children exposed to dangerous living conditions and forced labour.
Please consider making a donation on 13 March 2013 during Global Giving’s One-Day Matching Campaign. Your donation will be matched at 30% up to USD 1,000 per donor. The matching begins at 9am EST 13 March 2013 and runs through 11:59pm EST. Together we are making a difference in the lives of children in Ghana.
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