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!
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!