Context: Ghana is a source and destination country for trafficking: the practice of buying and selling children that leads to the worst forms of child labor and exploitation. The minimum age when children can work legally in Ghana is 16. However, more than 26% of children in Ghana ages 5 -14 work illegally. Currently over 56% of young people who graduate from elementary and middle school (which are free) are not able to enroll in secondary schools due to their parents’ inability to pay fees and overriding interest in having their children contribute to family income instead.
Organization: Challenging Heights was founded in 2003 to help rescue, rehabilitate and provide education for young people who have been trafficked or have experienced the worst forms of child labor. CH also supports at-risk and poor families to ensure that young people are protected from trafficking and child labor through education. CH does community and government level advocacy, training for children and parents on child rights and health, and also helps families improve their income levels so that returned trafficked children can attend school. These actions help communities to reject the sale and exploitation of children.
Current Grant: EMpower’s fifth grant to Challenging Heights supports the Youth Empowerment Program which links out-of-school youth with existing livelihood opportunities through the acquisition of market-relevant skills including information and communications technology (ICT), business management and clerical work. The grant will also support an external impact evaluation of the organization’s work to improve program effectiveness, decision making and implementation of its new strategic plan.