Skilled volunteers prove their mettle in rescue of Ghanaian child trafficking victims

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Armed with good will and spare time, volunteers are central to the work of non-profit organisations and good causes around the world. But some situations call for specific skills or experience – as Projects Abroad PRO’s current campaign against child trafficking in Ghana highlights.

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“We can utilise the skills of social workers, environmental scientists, lawyers, physios, special education teachers and sports coaches – so I would encourage anyone with these skills and thinking about volunteering to get in touch."

Difficult situations and sensitive negotiations are occupational certainties shared by all social workers, wherever they come from. In Ghana, where domestic violence, child trafficking and other forms of exploitation are widespread, the first phase of Project Abroad PRO’s anti-trafficking campaign required social worker volunteers to draw on a wide range of professional skills.

The primary objective of the project was the rescue and rehabilitation of three victims of child trafficking in the Lake Volta region. The eight specialist volunteers also began a program of community outreach in Kete Krachi, where they were located.

“Small teams of volunteers acted as advocates, talking to primary, junior high and secondary students on the issues of child labour, trafficking, domestic violence and human rights and responsibilities,” saidAnna McCarthy, Project Abroad’s Human Rights Coordinator in Ghana. “In April, we established a Community Child Protection Committee, a group of interested and active community members, to stand as protectors of the local children. In May the volunteers worked with the Projects Abroad lawyer to train the group on the laws of trafficking and labour, and their roles and duties.”

Volunteers came from a range of countries and with a range of experience. Patrice Van Zimmerman, from the Netherlands, is a professional counsellor and therapist, professions that are not common in Ghana. She was keen to emphasize that, as well as sharing her skills, she also learned a lot in her time as a volunteer.

“I have been lucky to work with the children involved in this particular rescue campaign and local professionals, whose work to stamp out trafficking will be ongoing,” said Patrice. “My training meant I was able to bond with the children and speak to them about their trauma – as well as help them with their homework! In the months that I’ve been here I’ve noticed that there are things people in Ghana know or do better than we do in Europe, so for me it has worked as an exchange. The experience gave me the feeling that I really can make a difference.”

Scott McQuarrie, Director of Projects Abroad PRO, said: “Projects Abroad PRO is designed to encourage graduates, professionals, career breakers and retired seniors to engage in volunteer work overseas. We match people to projects according to their skills, their flexibility and, of course, their geographical preferences. This way, they know their volunteer work is having a positive impact on the communities they’re working with and that, in turn, means they get maximum satisfaction from it.

“For this and other projects in Ghana, we can utilise the skills of social workers, environmental scientists, lawyers, physios, special education teachers and sports coaches – so I would encourage anyone with these skills and thinking about volunteering to get in touch.”

About Projects Abroad:

Projects Abroad PRO is the skilled and qualified arm of volunteer organisation Projects Abroad, designed for professionals, graduates and retired seniors. Whether you want to get involved in a medical placement, business development opportunity or volunteer teaching abroad you will share our desire to make a difference to some of the poorest communities in the world. Our strength is matching each volunteer with an in-country professional from their related industry.

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