Two thousand. That’s the number of children who are saved or prevented from being trafficked into labour every year thanks to James Kofi Annan’s organization – Challenging Heights.Part school, part recovery Centre, and part advocacy, education and skills-generating organization, Challenging Heights is changing the lives of thousands of children in Ghana, who are at risk of being sold into slavery. James who is a Change leader in the Reach for Change Incubator Program, runs an organization equips vulnerable children and formerly enslaved children with the knowledge, education and skills they need to lift themselves and their families out of poverty and sets them on a path where there is no need for a parent to sell their child to ruthless child traffickers.
21,000 children are engaged in hazardous child labour on Lake Volta, many of who have been victims of child trafficking. An estimated 181,000 Ghanaians are living in modern slavery today. He has made great progress on several fronts but most of all in terms of System Change and Social Impact. He has been invited to the Vatican in Rome to advise and participate in an effort to drive awareness of child trafficking globally. At a national level, Challenging Heights joined forces with the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of Ghana Police Service to conduct screening of vehicles on roads at road blocks.
In just one night this resulted in the rescue of 33 children. Further investigations revealed that, 4 were actually being trafficked whilst the other 29 children were at risk of exploitation. In addition, James is also engaging actively with the Ministry of Gender, Children & Social Protection to work towards implementing child protection policy across the country.
In terms of Social Impact, not only does James rescue hundreds of children every year from slavery but he ensures that these children receive an education and are reintegrated back into society. Last year 100% of rehabilitated (previously trafficked) children passed their Junior High School (JHS) exams. This is phenomenal in a context where many regions are suffering from 0% Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) pass rate. His program is making a difference, not only by rescuing children from traffickers, but by rehabilitating them so that they can reintegrate into society as productive individuals who have healed from months – or even years – of enduring brutal abuse. James is a recipient of multiple awards for his work, including the 2008 Freedom Awards, the World’s Children‘s Prize in 2013 and the 2014 C10 Awards.
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Story originally published by Reach for Change Africa in the Reach for Change Africa 2014 Social Impact Report.