Field Stories 15 October 2018

LITTLE STEPS, BIG IMPACT; how Alice is touching lives in her community

Alice Bonsu is a resident of Mehame, a cocoa-growing community in the Ashanti region. She is a member of the Community Child Protection Committee (CCPC) in her community. As a CCPC member, she is part of those who have volunteered their time to ensure that child labour in cocoa is eliminated from their communities. With other committee members, she is responsible for creating awareness on the issue of child labour and its effects on the children in the community.

“Together with six other adults and two children, we were trained by ICI to understand what child labour is. We have come to know the difference between concepts like child work, hazardous labour and child labour. We were also educated on awareness raising skills and given some materials to aid our work. This was to help us know how to approach people for discussions on child labour.

We move from house to house, go to churches and other public gatherings in our community to talk about the dangers of child labour. As part of our training, we were made aware of the fact that child labour in cocoa is a social issue which needs to be handled with a change in attitude and mindset. We also create awareness in the community about the importance of education and support with the implementation of the community action plan. As part of our work, we update the community register. This information is what we use to identify children at risk of child labour.

When we find someone engaging children in child labour, we don’t play a blame game with them. We have come to realize that most parents do so because of a lack of understanding of the issue and ignorance of the effects it has on the children now and in the future. Most of these parents come to understand and accept to bring up their children in a more protective environment after we have interacted with them.”

In all, Alice’ committee has held about 20 awareness-raising sessions benefiting 300 people in her community. Her work has affected the lives of the over 100 children living in Mehame. Through the committee’s work, three girls, Bernice Bedi, Gifty Yeboah and Augustina Brago, can now boast of the chance for a better future through the ICI apprenticeship program.  At ICI, we recognize the role that the CCPC plays in our work. Benedict Opoku-Mensah, one of the Community Development Associate summaries the role of the CCPC as follow.

“The impact of CCPC members, like Alice, in the promotion of child-centred community development, can never be overemphasized. The move towards the elimination of child labour in cocoa cannot happen without the commitment from people in the community. We do not live in the communities within which we work. So, all we can do is to visit them regularly. This prevents us from being able to correctly assess the progress of the people. The CCPC helps us bridge this gap. They create continues awareness of child labour and its effects and monitor the behavioural change taking place in the adults regarding this issue.”

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