CIBER Focus: "Fighting Child Slavery in West Africa" with James Kofi Annan
James Kofi Annan speaks about child slave trafficking in Ghana and how his organization, Challenging Heights, is working to address this problem.æ Annan, Executive Director for Challenging Heights, begins by talking about what led him to found the organization. As a former child slave, he wanted to help prevent other children from becoming enslaved and losing out on the opportunity to receive an education. He founded the organization in 2003 in an effort to prevent children who are at risk for trafficking from being trafficked, to rescue and rehabilitate children who are enslaved, and to provide educational support to at-risk children and survivors. Slave trafficking is a major problem in Ghana as over 240,000 of the 6.3 million total children in the country are victims of forced labor. Reasons for this include fishermen's desire to minimize costs with cheap labor, widespread poverty, and the ignorance of many poverty stricken parents who sell their children into slavery in order to provide for their families. One of the ways in which Challenging Heights seeks to solve the problem of child slave trafficking is through education. Educating children about their rights will help to prevent them from being enslaved, while educating parents in the community about trafficking will make them less likely to sell their children to traffickers. Since its founding in 2003, Challenging Heights has had many successes. These include supporting 7,000 children affected by slave trafficking and constructing a school and rehabilitation facility. Also, many who were rescued from slavery by Challenging Heights now work for the organization. Annan concludes with his thoughts on the future of Challenging Heights and the organization's partnership with a team of Kelley School of Business MBA students.