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Child Trafficking: Brains Down The Drain

Taking note of media reports lately, I am appalled by the fact that long after December 7th and 28th political storms continue raging. There are several issues that need to be addressed and the only sure way of doing so successfully is to avoid partisanship; however, that is what we are failing to do. We are only slowing down our rate of growth. We ought to rise above the noise and dust otherwise our minds would be clouded and our focus altered. At least, for me, that is what I strive to do. I am of the view that the term brain drain needs no explanation. It is an issue that needs no introduction. It is a phenomenon that has often been cited as being the bane for our under-development. We often complain about our professionals been lured abroad and blame nations such as the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US) for this development. We strongly accuse them of siphoning the few trained human resources we have. Initially, I thought we had a case but now I think we just have to shut up. We are our own enemies. Our actions can best be described as hypocritical. The following would show why I say so. Considering the issue of child trafficking-about which more ought to be done in the areas of deepening awareness and sensitization, advocacy for action, networking and alliance creation, rescuing victims and ultimately eliminating it in a progressive and sustainable way-we are just allowing scarce (human) resources to go down the drain. Most of the children who are vict ims of this social canker no doubt possess great potential. Were they to be in formal schools and environments that are congenial and enabling enough they are more likely to come out refined and enhanced. Possessing knowledge, skills and exposure they would have the capacity to make contributions relevant in driving forward our development agenda and aiding in the timely attainment of the Millennium Development Goals and a middle income status. The story of James Kofi Annan validates this point. I first read about him in one of the local newspapers about two or three years ago. Mr. Annan, the winner of the 2008 Frederick Douglass Freedom Award during the Freedom Awards organized by Free the Slaves (FTS) an international non-governmental organisation, is the founder and Executive Director of Challenging Heights, a local NGO committed to helping curb human trafficking and slavery in this era. In an interview forming part of a series of broadcasts Free the Slaves is making to help stamp out child trafficking and slavery, Mr. Annan was one of two people interviewed. This was telecast on Ghana Television (GTV), on Sunday, 22nd February, 2009 at eight-thirty pm. In that interview he berated child trafficking, describing it as “unfair. It is obvious he was saying that with the victims of this vice in mind. James himself was a child slave. He was sold into slavery at the age of six. He later managed to escape (then older). He got enrolled in school and did brilliantly in his academics, right from the elementary level to the tertiary level. He got a job at Barclays bank where he resigned in 2007 as a manager, in order to fully concentrate on the development of his organization and its work. Do you know what I find most intriguing? At the age of fourteen he could neither read nor write and he started learning with kindergarteners. One question I ask myself whenever I read or think about James, what he had to endure and what he has achieved, […]

Taking note of media reports lately, I am appalled by the fact that long after December 7th and 28th political storms continue raging. There are several issues that need to be addressed and the only sure way of doing so successfully is to avoid partisanship; however, that is what we are failing to do. We are only slowing down our rate of growth. We ought to rise above the noise and dust otherwise our minds would be clouded and our focus altered. At least, for me, that is what I strive to do.

I am of the view that the term brain drain needs no explanation. It is an issue that needs no introduction. It is a phenomenon that has often been cited as being the bane for our under-development. We often complain about our professionals been lured abroad and blame nations such as the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US) for this development. We strongly accuse them of siphoning the few trained human resources we have. Initially, I thought we had a case but now I think we just have to shut up. We are our own enemies. Our actions can best be described as hypocritical. The following would show why I say so. Considering the issue of child trafficking-about which more ought to be done in the areas of deepening awareness and sensitization, advocacy for action, networking and alliance creation, rescuing victims and ultimately eliminating it in a progressive and sustainable way-we are just allowing scarce (human) resources to go down the drain.

Most of the children who are vict ims of this social canker no doubt possess great potential. Were they to be in formal schools and environments that are congenial and enabling enough they are more likely to come out refined and enhanced.

Possessing knowledge, skills and exposure they would have the capacity to make contributions relevant in driving forward our development agenda and aiding in the timely attainment of the Millennium Development Goals and a middle income status.

The story of James Kofi Annan validates this point. I first read about him in one of the local newspapers about two or three years ago.

Mr. Annan, the winner of the 2008 Frederick Douglass Freedom Award during the Freedom Awards organized by Free the Slaves (FTS) an international non-governmental organisation, is the founder and Executive Director of Challenging Heights, a local NGO committed to helping curb human trafficking and slavery in this era. In an interview forming part of a series of broadcasts Free the Slaves is making to help stamp out child trafficking and slavery, Mr. Annan was one of two people interviewed. This was telecast on Ghana Television (GTV), on Sunday, 22nd February, 2009 at eight-thirty pm. In that interview he berated child trafficking, describing it as “unfair. It is obvious he was saying that with the victims of this vice in mind.

James himself was a child slave. He was sold into slavery at the age of six. He later managed to escape (then older). He got enrolled in school and did brilliantly in his academics, right from the elementary level to the tertiary level. He got a job at Barclays bank where he resigned in 2007 as a manager, in order to fully concentrate on the development of his organization and its work. Do you know what I find most intriguing? At the age of fourteen he could neither read nor write and he started learning with kindergarteners.

One question I ask myself whenever I read or think about James, what he had to endure and what he has achieved, is, had he not escaped and gone to school would we have known of his potential, and as a nation would we have benefitted from his ingenuity and resourcefulness?

Moreover, through Challenging Heights, James is literally guarding his community and helping create conditions viable for the growth and development of young people. Many (including myself) have been inspired by James to do and achieve more. He is an embodiment of perseverance, persistence, zeal, determination and purposefulness-ideals we all cherish. He is a good role model for us all.

Looking at this, it stands to reason that there are most probably many other James Kofi Annans locked up in child trafficking zones or holed up in districts notoriousâ for child slavery and labour, especially in their worst forms such as children in fishing, artisanal mining (galamsey), stone quarrying, commercial sexual exploitation, domestic and ritual servitude among others. Mind you, in making this point, I am not being (overly) simplistic. What the likes of Barack Obama is to the racially disadvantagedâ, the likes of James Kofi Annan is to the child slaves. Mr. Otoo, the West Africa Regional Coordinator of Free the Slaves, tells me, concerning children-in-fishing, that the argument the fishermen sometimes make is that they get the children involved in fishing at a tender age because they really desire that these children would become better fishermen.

I do agree with him when he makes the statement that the intent is not bad. At least we get to know these fishermen are thinking of posterity. He, however, concludes that the means employed are not the right means. I agree with him on this too. He added that any form of activity which is potentially hazardous, and which affects the holistic development of the child (boy or girl) and prevents the child from obtaining formal education or acquiring employable skills is unacceptable.

In addition Child Trafficking/Slavery and Child Labour, even with their immediate perceived benefitsâ are still inimical to our development. They are means by which we undermine the proper harnessing of young talents and the untappedâ resources of our young folk in more appropriate and effective ways. Mr. Otoo regretted that most people hide behind some of our social structures, systems and practices to enslave others especially children.

Children form part of our human resources. Trafficking and Child Labour result in the abuse and misuse of this category of human resource. Our attitude to the issue is still a passive one. With this attitude we are only allowing brains to go down the drain. We are only stabbing ourselves in the back. We bemoan our present state and condition as a nation. We often express mixed feelings about the future and one of the dominant reasons why we do so is the brain drain syndrome. We agitate rather strongly against what we consider as unfair practices and acts committed by industrialized nations such as the US and UK. But right in our backyardsâ we watchâ, our passivity and inaction serving as indicators of our approval, as brains go down the drain-that is our hypocrisy. Our present state, with regard to development, is not the best but I do appreciate the fact that there have been significant improvements. However, on how things will be in the future, my prediction is of a possible reversal of some gains made if such acts as child trafficking/slavery and child labour persist. The reason for this prediction is simple. The axiom-children are the future is neither a bland statement nor empty rhetoric. It is a statement that holds much truth and conveys a lot. The young people of today are the ones who would hold the reins of the nation in future. With what minds would we want them to do that?

It is on the basis of this, that, I make the prediction that gains made now, in terms of development, will be reversed if such things as child trafficking persist.

Child Trafficking/Slavery and Child Labour are scaffolds on which talents, potential and resources are guillotined and if they are not checked a dearth of our human resources will most certainly be the eventual result and development would be adversely affected. Just consider this and imagine the kind of future we would have. Finally, if the brains of tomorrow are made to go waste today, what kind of future would we have?


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