Bolgatanga Area Programme
The goal of the Bolgatanga Area Programme is to improve the child rights environment of Bolgatanga and Bongo to the extent that all children’s basic rights are met. This programme addresses children’s rights, with a particular focus child displacement and streetism, at all levels of society from individual support and family capacity building to school’s capacity building and advocacy influencing local mind-sets and policy making.
This programme’s roots go back to 2005 when AfriKids Ghana’s Director Nich Kumah first realised the extent of the problem of child trafficking going on between Bolgatanga and the slums of Kumasi in southern Ghana. A pilot project was established to resettle children from Kumasi and change mind-sets towards child trafficking and migration in the Upper East Region. This pilot was 100% successful and scaled up and in 2010 a third batch of children were supported under the ‘New Beginnings programme’ which is resettling the most vulnerable street, working and displaced children across the core area programmes. In parallel, AfriKids Ghana developed the School of Night Rabbits for street children living in Bolgatanga and in 2010 this was absorbed along with Operation Fresh Start into the Bolgatanga Area Programme.
The problem of child trafficking and migration is deep set, with Bolgatanga being a transit point for movements between the north and south of Ghana and between West African states. It is common practice for wealthier branches of a family to take in poorer relatives as domestic help in return for bed, board and schooling but this tradition can often mask child abuse ranging from deprivation of education through to murder and the sale of body parts for traditional medicine. Previous to Operation Fresh Start many of these subjects had been taboo and no project had succeeded in helping young women and men who had become trapped ‘down south’. This programme broke that mould both in terms of showing people could make a fresh start at home and in encouraging communities to face up the reality of what awaited their children in the south.
Some of the programme’s key success to date has been:
Launch of the New Beginnings 2 programme funded by Comic Relief and the DFID CSCF funded Education Bridge programme.
73 of the 160 original Operation Fresh Start beneficiaries graduated from their vocational training and established businesses of their own. A Comic Relief funded evaluation in June confirmed the project had a 97% success rate in resettlement. As well as continuing to support Operation Fresh Start beneficiaries, the programme launched its ‘New Beginnings’ initiative for 30 new beneficiaries.
The first young people to come home with Operation Fresh Start graduated their vocational training and became among other trades; teachers, ICT trainers and small business owners including weaving workshops and hairdressers salons employing and training a new generation of young people.