The use of child labour is a widespread problem in Ghana, with inherently local challenges. Children working is an accepted social practice, but there is a national effort to eliminate the worst forms of child labour, including slave- trafficking. Child trafficking is a complex issue with a host of contributing factors, requiring a complementary holistic solution.
Challenging Heights’s theory of change focuses on empowerment of the family from the beginning to facilitate successful reintegration of rescued children following rehabilitation. In this way, cases of re-trafficking are prevented and families are empowered to protect the rights of their children in the future.
Children who have been rescued, or have escaped from their slave masters, are usually brought to the transitional centre where the social welfare director comes to certify their stay, before being taken to the Hovde House Rehabilitation Center. We recognize that the trauma experienced by child labourers requires specialized, individual care in a specific setting before they are reunited with their families. This includes providing medical care to the children, getting them to participate in “psychosocial” programmes and engage with education before being reintegrated into their communities. During this time we seek to trace families and engage them in accepting and supporting the child, but it is often difficult for a child to deal with emotional issues of abuse before they even know where or with whom they will be living. Challenging Heights’ approaches to rehabilitation and reintegration needs to take cultural and social factors into account, and it is important to avoiding isolation or stigmatization
In order for the children to (re)commence a family life with hope and opportunity they are given a care package with some clothing, shoes, and food. But as important as these practicalities are, it is the work we do with family members, providing them with the information and assistance they need to successfully reunite with and reintegrate the child into their home and communities that is key to the long term future of the child.
We believe every child deserves a “childhood”: to grow up as a child in a loving home where they feel safe and secure. Child trafficking is perhaps the most abhorrent negation of this, but for far too many children in Ghana (and elsewhere in the world) there are numerous other social and economic obstacles also. Thus achieving this goal requires a holistic approach that facilitates the vulnerable and oppressed to empower themselves.