Advocacy or Action?

It’s been mentioned before, there isn’t a centre in the sub-region of West Africa that solely caters for trafficked children.  Please search google; we cannot find much about what is happening to the trafficked children, but lots of advocacy about them.  Very little action.

Due to ‘M’ the little girl who was found on the beach; C.R.E.E.R was created as we recognised her needs and those of many children that have been trafficked into slavery.  They go to orphanages, who don’t have the specialist needs to cater for the emotional needs of the children.

Those are the lucky ones, others are living in the streets having escaped but lost as to where to call ‘home’ having travelled many miles with their trafficker.  Without money to return home, scared of adults who may return them to their lives of slavery; they live in the streets living on the scraps they can find.

We’ve always stuck by our claim that we’re the first residential centre offering rehabilitation, education and vocational skills  in West Africa to be created solely for trafficked children; until this week!

Cote d'Ivoire 4 Cocoa growers using trafficked children

A few days ago we came across another centre.  Not entirely the same but not entirely different.  During a phone call to their offices, there were a lot of similarities.  They cater for children from Lake Volta in Ghana who are trafficked to work in the fishing industry.  Most of the fish isn’t exported so there’s not so much advocacy about it as there is with cocoa production, domestic servitude or prostitution; where the majority of C.R.E.E.R’s future generation are expected to come from.

An incredible conversation, hearing very similar thoughts to what we’ve been dealing with:

1.  No one else has a centre in the region, they believe they are the first, although they are mainly working with children from the lake.  We are now the second in the West African sub-region.

2.  It took them over 18 months to obtain their land; they also experienced endless meetings, false promises and wild goose chases.

3.  Local traditions, culture, bureaucracy; they have experienced a lot in Ghana that we’ve experienced in Cote d’Ivoire (& are still experiencing!)

However, we no longer feel as if we’re scraping in the dark with a speck of light at the end of a long tunnel.  Their organisation is going from strength to strength; there are facets that we would like to introduce at C.R.E.E.R particularly their art therapy.

So, advocacy is all very well, but action is needed too.  We need more help to make our centre a reality & gain action from committed individuals to help fundraise!

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When did you last check the origin of your chocolate?

We know this story & have seen it all too often across West Africa, please take the 10m58s to watch this clip of a series of 5.

The Ivorian government is now acting on child trafficking, but the farmers are all scared they will be taken to prison for having the children.

It’s a vicious circle, the farmers get very little for their efforts, they need to keep their overheads down.  They can’t even afford a bar of chocolate in Cote d’Ivoire, it’s out of the question with prices at a minimum of 2€, a bar of ‘Milka’ costs somewhat more.

So are you contributing to the farmer’s efforts?  Have you checked the origin of the chocolate you enjoy?  To ensure there is a fair trade agreement in place?

Help them get out of this vicious circle & therefore stop the use of the children on the farms!

Please don’t forget, the children are not solely trafficked for cocoa production but also to be sold in a variety of other forms, including as a house servant.

If you have 45m to spare, this will give you a real insight into the situation BUT please bear in mind this was filmed prior to the last elections; things are getting better in Cote d’Ivoire but there’s a long way to go still!

Humanitarian goodwill, naivety or a sinister side?

The charity, Zoe’s Ark had its founder & partner jailed this week for attempting to take 103 ‘Darfur’ Sudanese children to waiting new parents in France who had paid to receive their new adopted child.

But these children weren’t from Darfur but had families in Chad.  AlJazeera has an excellent report of both sides of the argument; was it pure greed by these two or naivety?

http://aje.me/XFxl2q – Link to video of AlJazeera English report & discussion

On our Facebook page, the question was asked after the news broke as to whether it was a new form of child trafficking?

Facebook page - CREER

@AJEnglish (AlJazeera English)  tweet 15-02-2013

“On @AJInsideStory  : Was the #ZoesArk campaign to evacuate children from Darfur a sinister cover for child trafficking? http://aje.me/XFxl2q

AlJaz Tweeter

However there are both sides to many stories of child trafficking …

One that broke yesterday was about a 14 year old girl in southern France from Cote d’Ivoire; found living in a house as a cleaner having been bought for 4,500€.

Ivorian slave in France article

http://www.thelocal.fr/page/view/french-couple-pay-4500-for-african-slave-girl#.UR5DOh04sSw

An African friend said when talking about this story that possibly the Ivorian family let their daughter go to France, envisaging a better future.

The same can be said of the death in 2000 of Victoria Adjo Climbié, a young Ivorian from Abobo, Abidjan who went to live with her aunt for a better life and to receive a better education than in Cote d’Ivoire.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Victoria_Climbi%C3%A9

Before setting up any NGO, or indeed any business organisation; research must  be done.  AlJazeera continue their discussion in the report, in regards to some of the other ‘goodwill’ NGO projects that have previously hit Africa that went terribly wrong, due to the lack of research.

C.R.E.E.R has talked to many experts including a specialist holding a doctorate on the subject who advises us.  We’ve talked to the authorities at government and regional level in Cote d’Ivoire.  Our Ivorian Director is already known for his responsibility with children in his previous role and one of our French board members works in child protection in France.  We are very aware of our role in being responsible for children.

SUNDAY SOCIAL GOOD: One Little Girl’s Trafficking Legacy

More information about C.R.E.E.R Thanks to ThirdEyeMom with our guest blog

Thirdeyemom

This post is part of my Social Good Sunday series. It is a guest post from Chloe, the Founder & President of C.R.E.E.R in France & Cote d’Ivoire.   C.R.E.E.R – Centre de Reinsertion et Education pour les Enfants de la Rue, or in English, a centre of reinsertion and education for street children

I’ve always had a passion for Africa. I first visited east and southern Africa as a young child with my parents and my passion grew through many subsequent visits after as an adult.  I started seeing more of Africa when I headed to the western side of the continent in 2004 which led me to creating something I really didn’t expect.

Seeing the varying states of children throughout the sub-region, from those that ‘work’ for the marabout in Senegal to those you see on the streets in a flash who run from you.  Slowly but surely I…

View original post 1,649 more words

Why, where, what will C.R.E.E.R be?

CREER logo

C.R.E.E.R = Centre de Reinsertion et d’Education pour les Enfants de la Rue

(Centre of Reinsertion & Education for street children)

Cote d'Ivoire near the Ghana border

Why?

Some children are sold by their families for about US $60, believing that they will have a good life with an employer or promised that they will receive an education.

The families often need the money to manage the rest of the family.

Traffickers will sell these children onto farmers, domestic homes and brothels  offering children for US$200-US$250+.

Many of these children end up mentally and physically scarred from working  like bonded slaves; some will manage to runaway but live on the streets.

Why do families sell their children?

This video says it all, it’s why there are so many children coming from the Sahel belt; the Sahara encroaching on farmland; seeing it for yourself is startling, this video makes it all a bit more real

A farmer with dry land, how can he be expected to feed his family if the land isn’t sustainable?

It’s not just in Niger, but in Burkina Faso, Mali (where there’s more than just drought right now!)  and right across to Mauritania on the Atlantic coast where many West Africans are working for a pittance & slavery has only just been made illegal …

What makes it worse is when families such as these, share their food bowl with you; C.R.E.E.R’s founder has eaten with similar families.

So many are ‘forced’ to sell a child for US$60 or so, to pay for the rest of the family, buy necessary provisions or receive medical care.  The US$60 will go a long way for the family but the child who is sold will end up trafficked & working for others somewhere …

We all have to give back in abundance.  Our own way is to help the trafficked children in long-term rehabilitative care, providing an education to empower them out of this vicious cycle.

Read more here about the young girl’s legacy who gave the inspiration to create C.R.E.E.R http://wp.me/s3aqBS-17

Where?

C.R.E.E.R is to be a non-profit, non-political and non-religious centre in Abengourou, Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast).   We expect a mix of Christians & Muslims as well as local religions; those that want to follow their faith can do so locally and will be taken to their place of worship by our staff.  We aim to work with the children, to give them future hope and be able to lead a normal adult life, after being part of a family at the centre.

Map of CI

What will C.R.E.E.R be?

As the first such designated centre in West Africa our aim is to give long-term rehabilitation for trafficked children from all over region that are being brought over the border for farming, domestic servitude & prostitution.

We’ve already talked to the immigration authorities.  The Ivorian Authorities are keen to see us set up as there’s nowhere that solely caters for trafficked children.  They house those that they can intercept at the border, wherever they can find a bed.  Our aim is to repatriate those that have families that can take care of them & educate the children that cannot be repatriated.

The idea is to create the centre as soon as possible.  C.R.E.E.R has worked hard since conception in 2010 before the Ivorian crisis and was unfortunately let down already regarding land with false promises in early 2011.

We aim to be as self-sufficient as possible, enabling the children to learn about animal husbandry as well as renewable energy sources and their maintenance.

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1.  We have been promised 5-hectares of land just over the border from Ghana in Cote d’Ivoire’s 10th largest town, Abengourou.  We will build the centre with single sex dormitories and workshops but to also create a small holding that the children will manage with tutors.

a)  The centre will provide accommodation for about 30 children initially.
b)  All children will receive an education, maths, French and also potentially English as core components of other subjects.

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2.  On the land we want to build workshops, this will be the vocational part of the project so that all children will have a chance to leave with a skill.

We hope some will further their education too in tertiary establishments.   The workshops will consist of vocational skills such as sewing, mechanics, carpentry and cooking etc.

We have a wonderful manager who is now ready to work with us, he has already managed an orphanage for several years & dearly missed by the children there.   He has held a variety of important meetings for C.R.E.E.R with government ministers.

We totally trust him & believe he will drive things forward in the interests of trafficked children.

In the longer term we’re hoping to have other C.R.E.E.R centres in Africa, the next one being at the other end of this trafficking corridor, just inside Nigeria’s border.

If you’d like to help, please email us at : c.r.e.e.r.rci@gmail.com

Or join our group http://www.facebook.com/groups/c.r.e.e.r.rci/

Or page http://www.facebook.com/pages/CREER/160911540628718 on Facebook

We’re also on Twitter @CREER_RCI

Please help us to get the first building at the centre constructed

(Thanks to ThirdEyeMom for the video & Sahel update: http://thirdeyemom.com/2013/02/26/starving-in-sahel-its-time-to-care)