Earlier in 2011, we learned about the scourge of slavery in Ghana, specifically on Lake Volta... children being sold into slavery and forced to toil endlessly at the hands of their slave master, often losing hope of ever seeing freedom again.
We also learned that there are organizations dedicated to not only negotiating the rescues of these children, but also of providing for the children once they are freed from slavery. A child can not be rescued without a future being secured for them.
Our goal was to offer financial support to increase the resources available to rescued children so that the maximum amount of children can be rescued and given the best opportunities possible.
When we spoke to PACODEP to assess what would be the most effective way to realize our goal, we were told that their initial 3 classroom unit built at the Village Of Life was at max capacity, and that more classroom space was their greatest need. They explained that more classroom space would help provide an education to more rescued children.
At the time, that seemed to us to be the most effective way to expand the available resources so that more children could be effectively rescued.
Touch A Life Foundation, a ministry focused solely on the needs of trafficked children, is currently supporting 28 of the 38 children at the Village Of Life. They have worked alongside PACODEP for several years to collectively address the issues of child trafficking in Ghana, as well as the provision and support for rescued children. TAL currently also supports 47 children in their temporary facility in Accra. We spent time with these kids as well during our time in Ghana.
(Photo by Touch A Life)
When Touch A Life contacted us at the end of September, we discussed the needs of the rescued children and the heart of our mission/goal. They offered to help us implement these changes and also offered to match the donated funds to help us meet our goal. We accepted their offer, based on their extensive experience, their integrity and transparency, as well as their ability to help us meet our goal. The funds were transferred over to them at the end of October.
In order to ensure our funds would be handled with the highest possible degree of responsibility and transparency, TAL conducted a thorough review of the current resources for trafficked children at the Village Of Life.
Key points of their review, including but not limited to:
· An additional two classrooms have been built adjacent to the original three classrooms at the Village Of Life, bringing the total classrooms to five.
· Only 8 of the 28 rescued children sponsored by TAL at the Village of Life are receiving an education. The majority of the children currently educated at the village of life are from the neighboring community. Note: We understand that there is a benefit to educating trafficked and non trafficked children together, and that there is great value in providing education to the community’s children.
TAL concluded that since roughly only half of the rescued children currently in Kete Krachi are receiving an education at the Village Of Life, there is sufficient classroom space for trafficked children at the Village Of Life within the five existing classrooms.
By comparison, all 47 formerly trafficked children in TAL's care in Accra are currently supported, sheltered, rehabilitated and educated by Touch A Life.
In 2012, TAL will be transferring the 47 children from Accra to a permanent facility that is being established in Kumasi. This facility will provide for up to 100 children in TAL’s holistic rehabilitation and care program, more than doubling their current capacity to provide support to rescued children. Since there are well established schools in close proximity to the new Kumasi facility which will provide integration to the children with local non-trafficked children, no funds would be needed for constructing classrooms. Instead, funding would be focused on the housing, care and development of the children. This will make a tremendous impact on the children who were once enslaved, but have been released into freedom.
While classroom space is still an integral part of the program at the Village Of Life, with the classroom space already having been expanded to five classrooms, there is currently ample space for trafficked children to receive an education at the Village Of Life. This ultimately changes the needs for the resources we have raised.
After much time spent in prayer, discussion and research, our team realized that in order to serve the best interest of the trafficked children, it is imperative that we reconsider our initial plan to simply expand classroom space at the Village Of Life. We owe it to God, to the donors, but most of all, to the trafficked children, to protect the best interests of the trafficked children in Ghana.
We have carefully come to a decision that we feel will serve the best interest the children still awaiting rescue, as well as the children currently rescued. PACODEP and Touch A Life, although two organizations operating separately and independently, both have the same goal at the heart of their mission -- to do what's best for these trafficked children. Our decision will help these two organization meet their goals, while still maintaining the integrity of our mission -- to provide expanded resources to the trafficked children in ways that would help further the abolishment of child slavery in Ghana.
Out of the funds raised currently held in trust by TAL, $5,000 USD will be provided to PACODEP, to join the $1,000 we have already provided to them prior to our travels for construction materials. These funds will be used by PACODEP to provide the construction and labor for one additional classroom. This will help raise the amount of classroom space from the original three to a total of six. This classroom will be equipped with sewing machines and other resources that can be used by the older children currently residing at the Village Of Life to gain necessary skills for successful employment.
The remaining $24,000 of the funds raised will be used by TAL to establish the Kumasi facilities, greatly increasing the resources available to rescued children. Full accountability and transparency of how these funds are used for the Kumasi facilities will be readily provided by Touch A Life.
Any concerns or questions as to the distribution of these funds or how this decision was reached, please feel free to contact Touch A Life or our team, at Africa@beyondmeasure.me
Please note that I will be in Cameroon until the end of February, and will be unable to respond until my return.