Project #1847

Saving Children Sold Into Slavery in Ghana

by US Association for International Migration (USAIM)
Meeting with community members
Meeting with community members

As we come to the end of 2013 we are pleased to share good news about the results of our child protection and child counter-trafficking campaign in Ghana. Since March 2013, IOM has partnered with six communities in the Volta Region of Ghana in an attempt to educate and raise awareness about the dangers and consequences of human trafficking and approaches for child protection. A series of highly interactive training workshops were held from September through November 2013; each starting with a community ‘Tree of Life’ mural activity and continuing with sessions explaining human trafficking and child protection concepts, the birth registration process (giving a child their identity), children’s rights and good parenting skills to name a few.

The IOM counter-trafficking team recently travelled to these communities to evaluate the success of the campaign and to acquire feedback from community members. The most highly valued training session mentioned by participants was child trafficking and the Human Trafficking Act, because many were unaware of the harsh realities faced by children after they had been trafficked. To quote one community leader, “we are appreciative of the work IOM is doing to educate the community about child protection. The toolkit will be a useful tool that we can continue to use long after your work here is done.”

The evaluation also indicated that the community remains concerned about economic hardship as many stated this played a role in decisions related to their children. In two communities, IOM was advised that as a result of new-found knowledge imparted by IOM regarding the dangers of child trafficking, parents voluntarily went to reclaim their children previously sent to fishermen.

As a result of these findings the IOM will adjust its approach to meet the needs of the communities as the remaining workshops are scheduled to take place through May 2014. In addition to this preventative approach to counter-trafficking, IOM also aims to conduct a group rescue in 2014 with the goal of rescuing at least 20 children held by fishermen on Lake Volta. This tandem approach of raising awareness and educating vulnerable communities together with direct assist is we hope a comprehensive means to address the issue of child trafficking in Ghana, together with government and NGO partners.

We hope you will continue to support our efforts as we plan for a dynamic 2014. It is only with your support that we can achieve our goal of rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration of children trafficked into the fishing industry in Ghana, and conduct important public awareness campaigns. We ask you to consider giving to our project during this Holiday season. As a special offer, GlobalGiving will match 100% of the initial donation of any recurring donations established during the last 12 days of December (more information available on their website).

On behalf of IOM Ghana we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season and thank you for your continued support and for brightening the spirits of children in Ghana!

Children provide feedback to IOM
Children provide feedback to IOM

New teachers accomodation - photo Evan Robbins
New teachers accomodation - photo Evan Robbins

IOM in partnership with BTCTE is please to share an update regarding the construction of a new teacher's accomodation in 2013, as part of ongoing efforts to prevent child trafficking through enhanced educational opportunities. The community of Awate-Tornu is located in the Volta Region, which has been heavily affected by the phenomenon of child trafficking into the fishing industry.

In 2012, a school block was constructed by IOM with funding support from BTCTE to allow children in the area to have access to education close to home and thereby prevent traffickers from duping parents/guardians with false promises of educational opportuniies for thier children. To ensure the sustainability of the school and to provide decent accomodation for teachers, IOM was able to embark on a new construction project in December 2012 with BTCTE to further enhance the school project.

In early November 2013, the IOM counter-trafficking team and representatives from BTCTE travelled to Awate-Tornu to monitor the progress being made and speak with members of the community. "The accomodation has made a drastic difference in the community. The teachers are now based in the community and our children are benefiting from continued learning." The further eplained that since the construction of the school block took place children have been attending lessons on a regular basis, and they would not consider sending them to another community. According to the teachers, there is also a great interest in teaching at the community as a result of the accomodation.

As we begin the season of Thanksgiving and Holiday celebrations, we would like to thank all of our donors for their support of IOM counter-trafficking projects in Ghana, and for making a difference in the lives of Ghanaian children. We are also thankful for the dedicated team on the ground working working to counter child trafficking and promote child protection.

It is only through your generous suppor that we can continue to prevent and curtail child-trafficking. We ask you to consider participating in one of Globalgiving's holiday campaigns to help us raise awareness and rescue more children. During the month of December, the top 9 organizations that raise the most funding with receive bonus awards towards their project. Additionally, if you are considering a recurring donation, those established during the last 12 days of December (and pledged for an additional 3 months), will be matched by GlobalGiving 100% on the initial donation.

IOM and development partner negotiate release
IOM and development partner negotiate release

On 23 October, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in partnership with the Government of Ghana and village elders, undertook the rescue of a child trafficked into the fishing industry along Lake Volta. Although, the Government of Ghana has national legislation aimed at prosecuting traffickers (Human Trafficking Act 2005) and supports projects promoting awareness about the child trafficking phenomenon, children continue to be given to fishermen by their parents/guardians, particularly in the Volta Region of the country.

French documentary filmmaker Mr Daniel GrandClément accompanied IOM on its rescue of Samuel (name changed to protect his identify). For the first time the process of negotiation, release and return was captured on film. IOM hopes that this forthcoming film will reignite public support for the release of other children that remain in bonded labour to fishermen. “National and international pressure to stop child trafficking practices in Ghana is necessary to ensure a protected and safe future for all Ghanaian children. All children have the right to develop to their full potential without exposure to exploitative practices. We hope that the visualization of Samuel’s experience will contribute to the elimination of child trafficking,” explains Dyane Epstein, Chief of Mission, IOM Ghana.

Soon after his birth Samuel’s family moved to a village near Yeji. When Samuel was only 3 years old he was forced to start work on Lake Volta, bailing water out of his Master’s fishing boat. According to Samuel, he started more the dangerous and physical work at the age of 5, assisting his Master by working with fishing nets, diving to the bottom of Lake Volta and working long hours.

Following his rescue, Samuel, now aged between 14 and 15, will receive counselling and rehabilitation from officials with the Ministry of Social Welfare, any medical needs will be addressed and his parents/guardians will receive micro-grant assistance to better support his long-term needs. Samuel will also be enrolled in school and/or technical training to improve his chances for future success. Any child rescued as part of IOM’s programme undergoes 2.5 years of monitoring in an attempt to ensure a successful reintegration process.

On behalf of USAIM and IOM Ghana we would like to thank you for your continued support and encourage you to tell others about our work! Stay tuned for more information about our upcoming holiday fundraising initiatives through Global Giving.

Fisherman signs paperwork to release Samuel
Fisherman signs paperwork to release Samuel
Samuel (striped shirt) is officially freed
Samuel (striped shirt) is officially freed
Samuel is now safe at the rehabilitation centre
Samuel is now safe at the rehabilitation centre
A reintegrated child speaks about his experience
A reintegrated child speaks about his experience

Since 2010, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) office in Ghana has welcomed students for an eight (8) week summer practicum, bridging the gap between the academic and professional divide. Forged as part of a partnership with Syracuse University, located in upstate New York, USA, this study abroad programme allows the next generation of aid workers to take classroom principles and apply them in a field setting, with guidance from seasoned IOM staff members.

The 2013 group of students was comprised of three undergraduate students and one graduate student, eager to learn about IOM programmes and adapt their experience to match their unique area of study (photojournalism, social work, public health, and international relations). The Syracuse students were in a way a cross-section of a typical non-profit aid organization. A team of individuals working to implement projects in their specialised area at the request of and for the benefit of their assigned community, and taken as a whole contributed more than just a development project or proposal, but also a knowledge bank and a contagious enthusiasm for making a difference in the lives of others.  

The internship started off with a one-week orientation to IOM programmes and Ghanaian language and culture. This was followed by a six week internship assignment at a community that has been affected by child trafficking and completion of a community development project for those in the field. Finally, the programme concluded with a one-week proposal writing and debriefing seminar in Accra.

This year the summer interns focused their community development projects on: interviews with reintegrated trafficked boys; improved hygiene through the installation of hand washing stations at the local schools; waste disposal; and work on the child protection toolkit ‘Free to Be Me’. In just a short time the students were able to become part of the community and leave a lasting impact. Hear from the students:

“One of the biggest problem parents face when deciding to sell their child, is not being educated on the conditions the child will face. Listening to the stories the boys shared, you feel an urge to put a stop to this horrible issue.” – Lauren

“The students and teachers were very receptive and I am convinced that they will utilize the hand-washing stations effectively. I am hopeful that they will translate this practice to their homes. This could ultimately reduce illness and disease in the community.” – Alexa 

Of course as anyone who has worked abroad can attest to it is the final days of your stay in a new place when you realize you have learned a great deal more, even in a short period of time, than the impact you have undoubtedly left behind. So too was it difficult for our students to say goodbye, far too soon. Although, we know they are better
prepared for their future careers and will always receive a warm welcome in Ghana.

On behalf of USAIM and IOM Ghana we would like to thank you for your continued support and encourage you to tell others about our work! Please take part in the September fundraising initiative, where you can have a direct impact on our work through your own fundraising initiatives. See below (more details are available through Global Giving).

How does it work?

  1. create a fundraiser page on GlobalGiving.
  2. Fundraisers that raise at least $500 from at least 10 donors receive an additional $50 match for
    the project from GlobalGiving and become eligible for prizes
    —JetBlue tickets, flip cam, and more!
  3. The top three organizations with the most fundraisers that raise at least $500 from
    10 donors will win bonus awards of $2,000, $1,000, and $500 respectively.
Students learn how to use the hand-washing station
Students learn how to use the hand-washing station
Painting the
Painting the 'Tree of Life' - Nicola Simmonds

Excerpt from Diary of a Roll-out

 Tuesday - March 19, 2013

Today has been a long time coming. We’ve created a pilot Child Protection toolkit – with a special emphasis on counter trafficking/child protection - based on self-empowerment from within the communities. The information has been gathered not only from loads of research but from long and numerous discussions with, not only the Ghana Police Service and District Officers for Health, Social Welfare, and Education, but ultimately, and most importantly, from the communities themselves: the Chiefs and elders, the women, the men, the teachers and the children.

The plan is that today we paint a mural on the school wall of the Tree of Life – the community’s contract with themselves and with us, of their buy-in. We arrive at Agbagorme community at our pre-arranged meeting place and time – under the big tree to the side of the school grounds. We’re excited, ready to go and with a truck full of paint.

No-one’s there but us. We find out that not only are the teacher’s on strike but it’s market day. “Nothing will tear them away from market day,” says Doris, IOM’s Counter Trafficking officer and, for now, our head mobilizer. Yikes. We wait. And wait. A group of mothers arrive and sit near us but not with us. It’s something. Only it’s not – they’re here for another meeting. We wait some more. Finally, in dribs and drabs we get a rather large group of maybe 200, including school kids, parents and elders, the Chief.

Doris asks the community if they know what their responsibilities are as parents, as children and as elders. Our advice that the men should help with the parenting brings uproarious laughter – we’re a comedy act! Clearly, we have quite a journey ahead in the Responsible Parenting department, but the ice has been broken and we have their attention.

Next we ‘break ground’ on the wall: we paint a big white square – the empty canvas. Next the parents, one by one paint some roots – symbolizing that they will provide steady roots for their children in the form of Protection; the Chief and a teacher, plus a couple of elders paint the trunk – their buy-in for keeping an eye on things and taking action where necessary; then some women, chief/elders and a school teacher paint the branches;  and then everyone, but particularly the school kids paint the leaves and fruit with their handprints – their signature.

It was a hectic and happy day, which left the team hot and exhausted but pumped. We’d begun…

To keep reading the journal visit click on the link: 

On behalf of USAIM and IOM Ghana we would like to thank you for your continued support and encourage you to tell others about our work! Stay tuned for more information about the upcoming Bonus Day 12 June – as a Superstar organization any donations made to us on GlobalGiving will be match 50% up to $1,000 per donor.

Little All About Me Booklet - Nicola Simmonds
Little All About Me Booklet - Nicola Simmonds

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Organization Information

US Association for International Migration (USAIM)

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Maria Moreno
Washington, DC United States
$105,396 raised of $225,000 goal
703 donations
$119,604 to go
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