Our vision is to contribute to the reduction of human rights violations and the conditions that allow it to exist.
Our mission is to work towards the protection of the rights of people, especially the vulnerable children and women in society, by supporting them to build a sustainable future through the implementation of an integrated program.
PACODEP is a Non-Governmental Organization established in 2003 with the purpose of fighting for child’s rights and against child trafficking and child forced labour in Ghana. Their mission is a process, not an event. It starts with identifying potential victims of modern-day slavery from among the children and youth working on Lake Volta and surrounding farming communities. Then rescue missions are carried out in work with the social workers and police, whom have received specific training in child trafficking and rescues. Once the children are rescued, they are brought to the Village of Life Shelter run by PACODEP, where they will be going through a rehabilitation process until they are able to be reintegrated back to an adequate caregiver (their parents or close relatives). If it cannot be insured there is a safe environment for the children, and there is a high probability for neglect or re-trafficking, then at that point the child can come back to the shelter for an extended period of time as a boarding student.
In early 2003 George Achibra Snr was taking a routine visit to the banks of lake Volta when he spotted a canoe approaching with his binoculars. In the boat were two small boys at the front and an older man at the back. Up until this point George had always just assumed the children working on the lake were with their parents, but as the canoe approach he heard the way the man was shouting at the two boys, demanding for them to do certain tasks. One of the small boys, whilst rushing to carry out the instructions, slipped and hit his head on the side of the canoe and blood even started flowing out. Far from the correct response of a loving parent, the man started shouting at the boy. As the canoe approached closer George called out to the man and asked him why he wasn’t showing the proper care for the boy and the man gave some heartless remarks to blow off the questions. Then George directed his attention on the boys and why their father was treating them this way. Their response was that the man was not their father, but their master. As George left the scene his mind was racing on what he had just witnessed and he knew he had to do further investigation. It also sparked within him the passion to take a stand for child rights.
After the prevalence of child trafficking on Lake Volta was realized, George reported to the IOM office in Accra and further investigations were carried out. When the news reached Sharon LaFraniere of the New York Times, Sharon decided to come to Ghana and link up with George to do further investigation. After Sharon spent some time with George on the lake and saw a multitude of trafficking cases, she wrote a story that made the front cover of the New York Times. From the story, came the help of the Touch of Life Foundation and Geneva global, who both helped in the establishing the Village of Life shelter in Achibra’s hometown of Kete-Krachi, Ghana.
In the beginning, George and his colleagues were following the governmental standard for rehabilitation, which was to rescue the kids and have them stay in the shelter only briefly whilst the family members where being located. Then the children would be reintegrated with the parents. But from this process arose a new challenge. It was discovered that more than 60 percent of these children were then resold into trafficking after reintegration. As a solution to the challenge and with the help of the partnering organizations, more structures were added to the home and a school was built. Initially the children had only been learning some various trade skills while at the shelter and attending school in town. Only for a brief time was the school only offered to the children of the home before it was opened to the public in September 2009. It also became a permanent shelter and safe haven for those children who could not return to their homes due to the threat of re-trafficking.
HISTORY AT A GLANCE
Over the past 10 years the Village of Life Shelter has been run by George Achibra Jnr and his wife Rebeccah Achibra along with other assisting staff members. George Jnr also helps in the rescue process in and around Lake Volta. Almost all of the children there have been rescued from the lake, although many were victims of abandonment and forced labour in farming and others were living as slaves to work in homes.
When the shelter started in 2008, it hosted 15 children and 10 young adults. Now there are currently 117 children staying there, many of which are temporarily living there as a part of the rehabilitation process, and when it is decided that they are ready and their families can receive them into a safe and loving environment, they will be reintegrated with their families.
Current Scope of work
We currently focus on four major target areas:
LIVELIHOOD AND EMPOWERMENT
Economic poverty is a major factor in parents vulnerability in most of the communities PACODEP works with.
PACODEP Livelihood and Empowerment Program is aimed at empowering men, women, and young adults to be economically stable. This is done through supporting community members with startups establishing Village Savings and Loan, Association, Providing apprenticeship training, as well as providing business and financial literacy training.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND EDUCATION
PACODEP works with communities in and around the Oti Region and the adjourning Regions such as Northern and Bono East. Communities are engaged to identify their development priorities and supported to undertake these projects.
Areas of focus include, but are not limited to issues on Child Protection (Child Trafficking and Child Labor), women empowerment and general health education.
RESCUE AND REHABILITATION PROCESS
PACODEP helps provide a safe environment for children who are being exploited in fishing, farming, child abuse, domestic labor, child marriage, and cattle herding sectors. This is done by safely retrieving the children from exploitive conditions with the help and partnership of the Law enforcement agencies and the Department of Social Welfare.
The Village of Life Shelter is a home where children rescued from exploitation are provided with trauma enformed care, counseling, and starter education.
These services are provided to children brought by the Police, Social Welfare, and PACODEP community engagement.
The PACODEP Village of Life Academy provides formal education for children from Nursery to JHS. The school is accredited by the Ghana Education Service to provide World Class education for children in and outside Kete-Krachi.