Challenging Heights has announced that it has rescued 109 children in slavery on Lake Volta in their 2013 project year.
The report further stated that the organisation directly supported 2,301 more at risk children in the same 2013 project year. Of these 1440 were boys and 970 girls, reflecting male’s higher risk of being trafficked in the fishing industry.
Many Ghanaians find it hard to accept that modern day slavery exists in their country, so Challenging Heights works to sensitise communities to the problem. In 2014 it carried out around 40 community awareness events, reach over 32,000 individual community members. Challenging Heights have seen an increase in the number of “voluntary return” child slaves from the lakes – children whose families and communities actively seek help to bringing them home – which they believe is indicative of an increased understanding of child rights and the need for child protection and education.
The organisation takes a holistic approach to the problem, focussing efforts on prevention as well as rescue. Last year it provided economic support to 261 women to help them become financially independent and thus be able to support their children in school, with innovative plans to increase this in 2014. The Challenging Heights School now hosts a new library with over 7,000 books, complementing the ICT centre that opened last year. Additionally, the organisation trained 14 Community Child Protection Committees, and over 20 children’s right clubs in over 40 communities among fishing communities in Ghana.
In recognition of the work done through Challenging Heights its President James Kofi Annan was awarded the 2013 World’s Children’s Prize. In the same year Challenging Heights hosted a number of high level visitors, including the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, the Canadian High Commissioner and the US State Department. Challenging Heights further disseminated knowledge of the issue through newspaper interviews and speeches in Europe and the United States of America. The charity also collaborated internationally on four social research projects, including an evaluation of the Government’s LEAP programme.
Challenging Heights is grateful to all its supporters and donors who make this work possible. “On behalf of the more than two thousand young people directly supported and protected by Challenging Heights this year, the many thousands more helped indirectly by making their communities safer and more child-rights aware, as well as the countless parents, families and communities supported directly or indirectly in giving their children a better future, I would like to say thank you” said Mr Annan.
We are keen to see more sponsors from inside Ghana in the coming year, adding “as Independence day approaches I hope more of my compatriots will acknowledge the issue of slavery and step forward to help eradicate it, to ensure ‘Freedom and Justice’ for all in our beautiful country”.