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While most children their age are either at school or playing with their friends, trafficked children who work in the fishing industry in Ghana are forced to work under the searing heat of the sun. Bonded into labour due to poverty, these children (some as young as 4 years old) spend their days on Lake Volta – paddling boats, collecting fish, diving under water to disentangle nets, or working as domestic helpers in fishermen's homes. They are not given the opportunity to go to school and are often ill-treated and malnourished.
Since 2002, IOM Ghana and its partner NGOs and Government agencies have been working to rescue trafficked children from the fishing communities of Yeji, in the Brong-Ahafo Region and Kete-Krachi and Kpando in the Volta Region of Ghana. Through the programme, IOM Ghana has rescued over 700 children who were subjected to exploitative labour. After their rescue, children participate in rehabilitation exercises and are reintegrated into their communities of origin.
Community outreach programmes are organized to strengthen the capacity of vulnerable communities to effectively prevent child trafficking as well as identify, protect, and assist victims of trafficking. IOM organizes community outreach activities in both sending and receiving communities in the Volta, Central, Greater Accra and Brong-Ahafo Regions of Ghana. These activities focus on human trafficking as a punishable crime, the dangers involved in trafficking children, and childrens’ rights as outlined in international and national legislations.
The rescue and release of trafficked children entails much more than just freeing them from forced and exploitative labour. To rescue a child is a delicate and sensitive matter. Before the children are rescued and released from bondage, the entire fishing community is sensitized and educated about child trafficking and what harm it causes to the children. Only then are negotiations made with the fishermen for the child's release.
Most trafficked children are highly traumatized by their ordeals. After the children have been rescued, they are hosted at a secure and child-friendly rehabilitation centre where they spend three months going through medical assessments and treatment in addition to psychosocial therapy and basic education. This important stage enables the child to move from healing towards full recovery.
The IOM team also conducts in-depth interviews and social investigations with every child to ascertain what forms of abuse he or she suffered while working for fishermen. This enables the clinical psychologist and social worker to appropriately design rehabilitation interventions (casework or group work) for us towards their recovery. The children are also prepared for enrolment in school or an apprenticeship, reunification with parents/guardians and are provided with school supplies and uniforms.
After undergoing rehabilitation, children are reunited with their families. The main goal of returning the children back to their parents/guardians is to fulfill the fundamental right of a child to grow up in a family environment. Before reuniting the children with their caretakers, however, the team traces their parents and develops case files on them through direct interaction and observation of the general environment over a few months to ensure they are suitable. Children are then reunited with parents/guardians who have been deemed capable of looking after them in a responsible manner. When suitable parents are not located, alternative guardians are sought.
The primary purpose of reintegration is to nurture and support the child's development in a secure and comfortable environment that is conducive to motivating the child to flourish as a student or apprentice and suitable to fostering the child's growth into an adult. As part of their reintegration process, the children are placed in schools or apprenticeship and provided with the required tools and materials. Their progress in the family environment, school and apprenticeship is monitored regularly over a period of 2.5 years. In addition, community watchdog committees and surveillance teams are formed to help prevent re-trafficking of children. Parents of returned children are also given livelihood assistance and training, so they can better support the child's needs.
IOM further provides trainings to local and national government officials to ensure awareness of national and international human trafficking legislation and to encourage the prosecution of trafficking offenders. It has assisted in the drafting of the 2005 Human Trafficking Act (694) and provided inputs to the ECOWAS regional protection and assistance policy.
“Trafficked children need long term support after their rescue and reintegration. This could also be done through individuals sponsoring them from afar. Your support will help reunite trafficked children with their families and allow them to receive education/training. It will also assist in raising awareness among communities and law enforcement agencies to prevent trafficking and prosecute those who endanger children. This sponsorship will bring hope for a promising future to these vulnerable children.”
- Dyane Epstein, Chief of Mission, IOM Ghana
This is how you can help a trafficked child as an individual or corporate donor:
|How Your Donation Helps|
|This US$ Amount||Will Pay For|
|$15||Food, lodging and other vital expenses for 1 child for 1 day in initial rehabilitation (approx 3.5 months)|
|$30||Minimum amount to support the basic needs of a child per month|
|$55||Uniform and school supplies per child per school term|
|$300||School fees of 1 reintegrated trafficked child in senior high school per term|
|$400||Micro-business assistance to a parent/guardian so they can set up small-scale business|
|$600||Salary of one child counsellor per month|
|$3,000||Support to develop a playground within a child centre|
|$9,500||Rescue, rehabilitation, reunification and reintegration of one child for 2.5 years (based on a group rescue of 20 children)|
So far, this is what your donations have enabled us achieve: