GHANA: “Race of Saints” in Rome raises funds to expand programs for young women at Child Protection Center
(MissionNewswire) In order to raise funds and awareness of the issue of human trafficking in Ghana, the 11th annual “Race of Saints” will be held on All Saints Day on Nov. 1 in Rome. Professional athletes, amateurs and fans of all ages will participate in races held on that day. The funding raised will go to support the Salesian Child Protection Center in Ashaiman, Ghana.
The Salesian-run International Volunteer Service for Development (VIS) provides services to youth in developing countries around the globe. Part of the organization’s work is to assist youth at risk of exploitation, particularly those at risk of trafficking. The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally with 81 percent of them trapped in forced labor and 75 percent being women and girls.
In Ghana, Salesian missionaries in collaboration with VIS volunteers, have created a Stop Human Trafficking campaign which brings awareness about trafficking and works to provide local education and workforce development to help youth remain in their own communities instead of migrating. Migrating to foreign lands in search of work and better opportunities is when youth become most at risk of trafficking.
In Ghana’s poorest and most isolated villages, many families choose to entrust their children to people who promise to take care of them and help them find better opportunities. From that moment, many children disappear without a trace. Girls are most at risk and are often taken by criminal groups into the Gulf countries where they are exploited at work or sexually abused.
To help these girls and young women, Salesian missionaries opened the Child Protection Center in Ashaiman in 2014. The shelter is a place for minors aged 6 to 17 who are offered a path to rehabilitation and, when possible, family reinstatement. The funding raised through “Race of Saints” will help the center expand programming to offer targeted services like vocational training for young women between the ages of 14 and 20 years old.
With the funding, the Child Protection Center aims to welcome 100 young women who have been victims of trafficking and provide shelter and accommodation for 50 girls for 12 months. Vocational courses in making pastries/baking, cosmetology, tailoring/dressmaking and costume jewelry making will be offered along with other rehabilitation, counseling and family reintegration programming. Once their studies and rehabilitation are successfully completed, Salesian missionaries will also provide micro-credit so the graduating young women can start small income-generating businesses.
“Salesian missionaries at the Child Protection Center and around the globe are working to end child trafficking and other abuses by addressing their root causes,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “From identifying traffickers and holding them accountable to educating families about these predatory practices, missionaries are working to change local laws and strengthen legal protections for youth. Programs like the Child Protection Center also work to meet the needs of youth in their local communities.”
Salesian missionaries operate four centers across the country that serve poor youth who are at risk of child labor and human trafficking. There are two centers in the urban area of Accra in addition to centers in Sunyani, the first place Salesian missionaries launched programs more than 25 years ago, and a new center in Tatale.
While Ghana’s economy continues to improve, nearly 45 percent of the population lives on less than $1 a day, according to UNICEF. Ghana ranks 139 out of 188 countries on the United Nations Development Program’s 2017 Human Development Index. Rural poverty remains widespread in the dry savannah region that covers roughly two thirds of Ghana’s northern territory.
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UNICEF – Ghana