Children
 Ghana
Project #1847

Saving Children Sold Into Slavery in Ghana

by US Association for International Migration (USAIM)
Vetted
Simon with his new laptop
Simon with his new laptop

In July 2016, two survivors of trafficking supported by IOM Ghana —Simon and James—graduated from college and will embark on careers as teachers. They will receive postings from the Ghana Education Service to commence in September 2016.

Simon and James were rescued by IOM eleven years ago and endured years of abuse in the form of forced labour at the hands of fishermen in the Lake Volta region.

At a young age, Simon lost his father and his mother became sick and unable to work to provide for the family. With six children to feed, Simon’s mother was forced to turn him over to fishermen, who in return, promised to ease her financial burden and help her seek medical attention.

Although both of James’ parents are alive, he was also trafficked as a result of extreme economic hardship on his family. His parents were promised financial assistance in exchange for their son. The promises made to both families were never fulfilled and instead, their children were taken away from them for years and forced to endure harsh labour conditions in the fishing industry.

The two boys spent the early stages of their lives as victims of trafficking until they were rescued from the Lake Volta region by IOM. Following their rescue, they were reunited with their families, administered care and rehabilitation and enrolled in school. IOM provided Simon and James with the basic necessities such as food, shelter and school supplies. They also covered their school fees and equipped the boys with a laptop which proved especially helpful when completing their college theses.

Simon and James were determined to make a better lives for themselves and with the help of donor funding and continued support from IOM, were able to attain a high level of education that will set them up for successful careers.

As they move into the next phase of their lives as teachers, they are extremely grateful for the support and opportunities provided to them by IOM and its donors. Eager to give back to society, they have offered to serve as role models and motivators for other survivors of trafficking who are currently receiving support from IOM to ensure these children are able to put their past behind them and envision a bright and positive future.

James receiving a laptop from IOM staff
James receiving a laptop from IOM staff
A family receiving their packages
A family receiving their packages

During this quarter, an IOM social worker visited and counseled every reintegrated child and their family, including those who were reunited last year.

In addition, each parent, caregiver and child received food support to ensure that the immediate nutritional needs of the children are met. Each child received a package that included bags of rice, maize, sugar, beans, oil, a local food made from cassava called ‘gari’, breakfast cocoa powder, powdered milk, tom brown (a local cereal meal), a solar lamp for evening studies, soap and toilet rolls.

The quarterly visits and monitoring have imparted positive benefits on most of the children, who look forward to receiving additional guidance and motivation from the IOM Social Worker. This has resulted in the children excelling academically. Some of them have also been encouraged to take up leadership roles. For example, one of the girls currently in Senior High School has become the Girls’ School Prefect. Those in apprenticeship are also really doing well to the extent that their trainers comment on their strong performance.

In addition, about 8 of the reintegrated children have been recently supported to enroll in boarding facilities so they can improve their academic performance as well as be better supervised. They were provided with basic school needs including uniforms, stationery, personal effects, mattresses, bedsheets and trunks to make their stay a comfortable one. Those who were enrolled in the technical schools were also provided with basic tools depending on their technical specialty. Their enrollment fees too were paid in full.  

The children and their families were extremely grateful to IOM for the support. Most of them expressed their gratitude and wished the donors well so they could continue to support them.

IOM Ghana will continue to regularly follow-up on the reintegrated children so as to assist them and their parents should any difficulties arise. The organization is also now carrying out prevention activities to stop children from being trafficked in the first place.

A child with his solar lamp
A child with his solar lamp
Students with their items walking to their hostels
Students with their items walking to their hostels
Students with their tools after donation from IOM
Students with their tools after donation from IOM
A child excited to receive school uniform
A child excited to receive school uniform

In 2015, IOM rescued 20 children from trafficking in the fishing sector. Following a period of rehabilitation, they were reunited with their families last year. IOM staff briefed their parents on their responsibilities towards their children and on what their child had gone through since s/he had left home.

After being enrolled in schools and apprenticeship, all 20 reunited children have received some form of support as part of the reintegration process.

During a monitoring exercise, an IOM social worker visited each of them and their families. In all, 18 of them who are in school received school supplies including school uniforms, school bag, exercise books, note books, graph books, mathematical set, pens, pencils, erasers, sharpeners and rulers. These supplies are to aid them in their studies for the first academic year.

The other two who were enrolled in apprenticeship were also monitored to ensure their well-being. IOM will provide specific apprenticeship tools that the children need for their training.

In addition, each parent, caregiver and child receive food support to ensure that the immediate nutritional needs of the children are met. Each child received a package that included bags of rice, maize, sugar, beans, oil and a local food made from cassava called ‘gari’.

The children and their families were really grateful to IOM for the support. Most of them expressed their gratitude by saying "God bless you and replenish your source so you will continue to support us".

The majority of the children are very excited to be finally attending school regularly and have great ambitions. The IOM Social Worker will continue to regularly follow-up on them and assist them and their parents should any difficulties arise.

A child excited to have received school supplies
A child excited to have received school supplies
Children with family receiving school supplies
Children with family receiving school supplies
Mother and son happy to be reunited
Mother and son happy to be reunited

All 20 children Victims of Trafficking (VoT) that IOM rescued earlier this year have now been reunited with their families. IOM staff briefed each parent and caregiver on their responsibilities towards their children and on what their child had gone through since he had left home.

 

The reunions were emotional. For most children it had been years since they had last been able to embrace their parents. One of the mothers gave a prayer of thanks: ‘’Oh God, I thank you. My child is finally back ’’.

 

IOM staff; with the collaboration of the families, also ensured most of the children were enrolled in their local schools. Two of them also have been supported to enroll in apprenticeship. The majority of them are very excited to be finally attending school regularly and have great ambitions. ‘’Madam, as for me, I believe I will pass my entry exams and be placed in class 4 even though I have been out of school for long’’ said one of the children..

 

It will take some time for the children to completely adapt to their new routines and to living with their families again. However, an IOM Social Worker will regularly be following-up on them and assisting them and their parents should any difficulties arise.

A rescued child being welcomed home by his uncle
A rescued child being welcomed home by his uncle
The family of 2 VoTs trying to identify their own
The family of 2 VoTs trying to identify their own

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.

A family rel. (R) showing the IOM FC (L), the VoT
A family rel. (R) showing the IOM FC (L), the VoT
 

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Organization Information

US Association for International Migration (USAIM)

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.usaim.org
Project Leader:
Maria Moreno
Manager
Washington, DC United States
$105,786 raised of $225,000 goal
 
 
709 donations
$119,214 to go
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