Over 70 -80 children between the ages of 6 and 14 are trafficked from the Senya fishing village in the Central region of Ghana each year to the Volta lake (Yeji) and other neighbouring countries for fishing activities.
While there are still a number of children in bondage of slavery, the intensive educational campaigns and other efforts of Cheerful Hearts Foundation (CHF), other anti-trafficking organizations and government institutions, has caused the return of a number of these children back to the Senya community.
Through researches conducted by Cheerful Hearts Foundation in 2015/2016, it shown that several cases of trafficking and sexual abuse is under-reported due to misconceptions and less knowledge of the work and support services of the Police and Social Welfare department by community members.
As part of our ongoing project “My Right My Future” in the Senya fishing community, the foundation organized a school activity day in collaboration with the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service and the Department of Social Welfare, Awutu Senya West District.
School Activity Day / Community Engagement
The school activity day is one of the activities in line with the “My Right My Future Project” implemented in collaboration with Child Rights Ambassadors Denmark and Funded by the Danish Youth Council (DUF). The event which was attended by 200 students from 20 selected schools and over 70 community members was organized mainly to help students and community members to engage in a face to face community forum with key personalities from the Ghana Police Service and the department of social welfare, and be able to ask questions and receive answers on the work and support services of both social justice institutions of the Ghana Government.
Deputy Superintendent of Police DSP Mrs. Florence Anaman of Kasoa district police headquarters and Miss. Kebeh Teta Zubah of the Department of Social Welfare, Awutu Senya West District were the Key resource persons for the event.
DSP Mrs. Florence Anaman explained in details all the various forms of abuses which are handled by their department including rape cases, defilement, sexual harassment, physical abuse and child labour and trafficking.
Miss. Kebeh Teta Zubah also explained to the students and community members on the social justice administration, Child Rights & Advocacy and Prison Peer Agents of the Social welfare Department.
Questions and Answer Session
An open forum for questions and answers followed just after a well-educated session by the key resource persons. While over 50 questions were asked, some questions asked by especially the students and teachers include the following:
- What punishment does the police give to child traffickers when caught by law?
- What can I do if I am willing to go to school but my parents do not have money to take me to school?
- What happens to a child who refuses to go to school even though the parents are willing to support him/her?
- Is it wrong for children who help their parents with basic work after school?
- Are girls the only people raped? Or boys could be raped too?
- What is the contact number and location of the DOVVSU office in the District?
- What would happen to a juvenile who commits crime?
- How many years can some go to prison for a rape offence?
- What support can social welfare or DOVVSU provide for a child who is continually abused by their parents and don’t feel safe to report them and also live in same house with them?
- Can Cheerful Hearts Foundation organize such events regularly in the community to help educate more people?
After receiving insightful answers to these questions, the community members felt very happy about the event. A couple teachers and community members recommended that such events be organized severally to help community members learn more about the support services opportunities available to them and also to respect the rights of others.
DSP Mrs. Florence Anaman, Miss Kebeh Teta Zubah, and other leaders used the opportunity to congratulate the efforts of 23 community volunteer’s trained by the Cheerful Hearts Foundation to educate community members on child rights advocacy, importance of education and prevention of teenage pregnancy though a house to house conversation engagement.
In a closing remarks the Executive Director of Cheerful Hearts Foundation Mr. Eric Opoku Agyemang encouraged all students and community members to spread the knowledge gained from the event to educate the entire community. This, he believes would help reduce child labour and trafficking within the Senya fishing community. He also thanked the DOVVSU, Social Welfare Department, Ghana Education Service, Child Rights Ambassadors, Danish Youth Council and Community leaders for assisting in making this event a success.
Eric Opoku Agyemang
Cheerful Hearts Foundation