Hope Education Project launches drive to combat young people trafficking in West Africa

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun21,2024

The promise of a decent job and the chance to help their family – no wonder young people in struggling corners of the world don’t stand a chance and fall for traffickers’ brutal deceptions that leave them enslaved and desperate.

But can education and empowerment stop the scandalous waste and injustice before it is too late? That’s focus of the Hope Education Project https://hopeeducationproject.org, a pioneering initiative in Ghana, West Africa dedicated to stopping the flow of vulnerable people exploited by traffickers both nationally and internationally.

With HEP, futures are transformed so young people have the freedom to thrive where they choose and their talents can enrich their home communities. Based in Tamale, the fastest growing city in the region, the schools and communities awareness programme is being developed to a standard enabling deployment throughout West Africa.

According to the International Labour Organization, there are an estimated 50 million enslaved people worldwide. Human trafficking is one of the most common forms of modern slavery, and West Africa has long been a magnet for these crimes with countless young people falling victim to fake job adverts offering lucrative employment abroad. Traffickers prey on the vulnerable, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds seeking a better future in places known for their prosperity.

Nations with employment systems that monitor and tie in migrant workers make attractive destinations. HEP was founded by Angus Thomas, an activist who first established Send Them Home (STH) https://sendthemhome.co.uk to repatriate African women trafficked for sexual exploitation.

HEP was born out of his ambition to not just rescue victims, but to educate target communities and stamp out the issue at source.

Through its efforts, STH has made a significant impact by successfully repatriating numerous victims from the Middle East to their homes in Nigeria and Kenya, and then helping them to rebuild their lives.

HEP wants to build on this by focusing on prevention, raising awareness and safeguarding individuals across Africa.

In November last year, STH launched an exhibition in London’s exposing the wretched reality of sex trafficking by showcasing the harrowing experiences of African women it had rescued.

Thanks to the publicity this generated and people’s donations HEP secured the funding needed to develop its pilot project in Tamale. This will begin in October.

It will run in partnership with local organisations Norsaac and Act for Change https://www.facebook.com/act4change/ with the focus on 13-16 year-olds, 17-20 year-old out-of-school girls, and groups of parents.

Tamale has seen its population double in the last decade and now stands at 800,000. One major reason is an influx of families seeking better work and life prospects as farming becomes less viable due to climate change. Limited job opportunities have left many young people unable to complete their education with girls particularly vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labour as they strive to earn money for their own schooling.

In recent years, girls young as six have been sent to southern cities to work as head porters, known as Kayayei, putting them at significant risk of sexual violence and recruitment by traffickers.

HEP has also partnered with researchers at the University of Texas in Arlington on research projects focused on human trafficking awareness, recruitment strategies and child sexual exploitation, using groups and survivor testimonies.

“In northern Ghana, it’s very common for females to migrate south to find work in the cities. Girls waiting to enter university or who have left school will be tempted by the offer of lucrative jobs in the Middle East. They’ll be looking for money to support their education or their families generally,” explains Thomas.

“It’s truly rewarding to see our pilot programme taking shape. Traffickers have preyed on families in the poorer northern regions of Ghana, affecting every community. Young people are often lured from their homes and subjected to exploitation and abuse. Our programme aims to empower these young individuals with the knowledge they need to protect themselves and assist their friends and family in staying safe and well.”

To help HEP to continue its work combatting human trafficking and empowering vulnerable communities, visit https://hopeeducationproject.org 


Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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