Paradigm shift – As a result of continuous education and sensitisation on child labour and children’s rights, compliance with Ghana’s anti-human trafficking laws has improved drastically in the Lake Volta region, as confirmed by the independent evaluation. The voluntary return of children and their withdrawal by their parents from the fishing and cocoa sectors is testament to the impact of this knowledge.
Training police officers – The involvement and training of police officers by two of our partners, Rescue Foundation (RF) and Assemblies of God Relief and Development Services (AGREDS), reinforced prevention education efforts. The officers’ authority will lead to the prosecution of traffickers, which has been very weak in Ghana.
Use of media – The media plays a key role in fighting child trafficking. Fact for the Youth in the Southern Sector Organisation (FYSSO), Rescue Foundation (RF), Partners in Community Development (PACODEP) and AGREDS made good use of print and electronic media. FYSSO collaborated with Free the Slaves to have its documentary aired on national television, with a viewing audience of over 40 million people in Ghana and millions more via satellite across parts of Africa. Rescue Foundation worked with Radio Peace, which has a reach of over 600,000 people and aired RF’s programmes three times a week.
Education and training for rescued children – Supporting formal education or vocational skills training was one of the major strengths of the Initiative. All rescued children received physical and emotional support, which enabled them to stay in school. Support included school uniforms and other school items, as well as income generating initiatives for their parents.
Re-trafficking – Up to 40 percent of the children in some communities could not be traced one or two years after having been rescued. There were suspicions of the children being sent away, and without the parents’ cooperation it was difficult to determine the children’s location. The lack of an effective monitoring system contributes to children being re-trafficked.
Lack of proper training and skills – An independent evaluation of the eight organisations revealed that some of the organisations lacked trained personnel, such as social workers and counsellors, critical for helping rescued children deal with the trauma they faced as a result of years of abuse and labour, as well as preparing them for reunification with their parents. When compared to the organisations with qualified staff, the lack of experienced personnel impacted the programme’s implementation.
Identification of trafficked children – During the independent evaluator’s visit to FYSSO, the organisation that receives and reintegrates children rescued by PACODEP, it was realised that PACODEP’s process of identifying trafficked children and differentiating them from those whose parents had migrated to the fishing communities was unclear. Some of the children had migrated there with their families and were being exploited by their own parents or relatives. It is important for rescuing organisations to have a clear understanding of each child’s unique circumstances.