While on our recent overseas service learning trip to Ghana, we had the privilege to visit a local NGO called Challenging Heights. The organisation focuses on rescuing and the rehabilitation of Ghanaian children who have been trafficked into in the fishing industry on Lake Volta. They ensure that rescued trafficked children are protected and guide them to lead a dignified meaningful life by focusing on their rights education and health. In addition, they raise awareness among the communities and demand social justice for these children. Their core projects include child trafficking survivors support network, a rehabilitation and recovery project, women’s empowerment project, child labour project, and school programs. The organisation was started by James Kofi Annan, who was trafficked himself at 6 years of age and was forced to work in the fishing industry for 7 years.
The internal trafficking of Ghanaian children from their villagers is a big challenge and a serious issue. Children are forced to work in the fish industry because their small fingers are useful for catching the fish tangled in the fishing net. These children are often kidnapped or sold by desperate families. They live in awful conditions and often work for very long hours. The health risks involved cannot be ignored, these include water related diseases, catching a guinea worm, snake bites, or even drowning. Underprivileged Ghanaian children from poor backgrounds are the losers in the globalized world.
In my previous post I had mentioned how globalization makes human trafficking easy on an international or global scale. Trafficking in Ghana happens internally however it is still influenced but globalization both negatively and positively. International NGOs that fight human trafficking have a presence in Ghana to tackle the problem. Even though Challenging Heights is a local NGO started by a Ghanaian, some of the staff members we met were people from abroad. It is also funded but donors all around the world and anyone can help support these children by sponsoring them through the Challenging Heights website. Moreover, Ghana might have not been able to pass the anti-trafficking bill without the help of various international organizations. Unfortunately, even though this bill was passed in 2005, the practice is still common. The international community could help tackle the problem by putting pressure and raising awareness as well as help build local capacity. International NGOs can also provide micro-credit schemes to prevent and combat human trafficking. Ghana’s fishing industry is crucial to its economy and contributes greatly to foreign exchange. Despite the fact that thousands of Ghanaians gain their livelihoods from fisheries, children still remain the cheapest form of labour and are increasingly taken advantage of. What is happening to these children can also be linked to the global food security and scarcity of fish due to environmental factors and overfishing. Fish from Ghana is exported mainly to European Union but has the potential to export to Japan, Singapore and Spain. Questions remain how this expansion to meet raising fish demands will affect underprivileged children in Ghana. Either way, children are still being trafficked against their will on a daily basis, denied the right to a happy childhood.
Balqis Hindash (M00385581, Middlesex University, Dubai Campus)