Operation Fresh Start
Operation Fresh Start was an innovative child rights project which tackled child trafficking and the associated problems of child streetism and child labour in northern and central Ghana.
It ran from 2006-2011 and formed the basis for much of the area programmes that have developed from it. Operation Fresh Start was initiated in response to the growing problem of child trafficking happening in and through Bolgatanga, and took a three track approach:
Prevention: In the Upper East Region (UER), where many of Ghana's street children originate from, Operation Fresh Start ran an awareness campaign in rural communities which showed the danger of child trafficking and the realities of life on the street via video footage and personal accounts. Each meeting attracted up to 1,000 people and demonstrated the horrors of life on the street, as well as fostering discussion and understanding about the causes of child trafficking and streetism and how to overcome them.
Action: In partnership with local Kumasi NGOs, Operation Fresh Start resettled 160 children and young people from an urban slum to their home communities in the UER. Operation Fresh Start initally made a four year commitment to supporting the children through vocational training and empowering their families economically. Since the project ended mentoring and regular follow on business skills training has been continued for these beneficiaries.
Collaboration & Replication: Operation Fresh Start held bi-annual stakeholders' conferences, which attracted participants from the entire cross section of society, including government, local authorities, the press, traditional councils and NGOs. The purpose of these was to continuously develop the project's business plan and encourage collaboration on child rights issues in the region.
'I am very happy to be back in Bolgatanga. In Kumasi I had no money for school, and no help from my mother. AfriKids has given me everything, made me more comfortable, given me a trade and given me food. In Kumasi we were roaming around, some people doing prostitution. Now the community in Bolgatanga guides us and counsels us. We are learning how to live better'.
Akese, who came home to Bolgatanga with Operation Fresh Start