Thursday, July 3, 2014

Modern Slavery—Paige Redner

Last Wednesday was the first day that those working for Challenging Heights would be participating in the Advocate’s Program (  For our morning session of the Advocate’s Program, we discussed modern slavery at Challenging Heights office.  Dr. David, one of the Vice Presidents of Challenging Heights, proposed four questions to us:

1) What is modern slavery? 
2) How prevalent is modern slavery? 
3) What’s the situation in Ghana? 
4) What are the causes of slavery in Ghana? 

Dr. David provided some pretty staggering statistics throughout his presentation.  Did you know that there are currently 29.8 million slaves in the world?  Did you know that slavery exists in every single country on Earth?  Did you know that Ghana is ranked #18 in percentage of inhabitants in slavery while the U.S. is ranked #134?  These statistics shouldn’t make you feel anything but angry and confused. 

How is it 2014 and slavery is still a huge issue?  Why, as global communities, do we not know more about these issues?  Why aren’t more people joining forces to END SLAVERY? 
I am in no way trying to attack others for not taking a stand because I myself wasn’t doing a thing.  It was really hard for me personally to hear the statistics that Dr. David presented.  I had previously been aware of human trafficking, but I wasn’t really looking into it.  It’s crazy how we can fall into our little bubbles and only think about our own lives.  This lack of awareness is something that I am hoping to really change in my own life through the experience of this trip. 


With Dr. David’s presentation, we visited a couple different websites that address human trafficking programs, some of which Challenging Heights partners with.

The last website ( provides a petition that is working to end child slavery in Ghana.  Many children sold into labor are from church communities.  The petition asks churches and church leaders to inform the members and urges them to not let this happen to the children!

I also STRONGLY recommend you watch this video and make yourself aware of the realities:

So, as you can tell, our morning was pretty heavy.  It really makes you think when you see the staggering statistics.  After our lecture morning, we ate lunch at the CH office and we played the game Egyptian Rat-Screw.  (Yay for cards!)

Later in the day when we got to Challenging Heights School, staff Rose asked us to stand over in a covered area until we would begin our walk.  We waited around for a while talking and then a boy came out and started hitting the bell. Break time!  All the kids could see us and immediately ran over.  Their break/recess was a half an hour of fun!  We learned some new hand clapping games and played a lot of  the game “double double, this this, double double, that that, double this, double that, double double this that”.  There were so many girls around us. The boys were lingering around at first, and those that weren't playing soccer eventually joined in!  It was so much fun to be able to interact with them! 

After their break was over, Rose came to get us so we could walk through the fishing community back to our hostel.  At first, there were a lot of kids following us who had just gotten out of school.  It was really hard to see that compared with all of the kids that we passed who weren’t in school.  Many kids either can go to school because don’t have the money or they are helping their parents during the day.  It’s a really hard thing to observe, being a future educator and knowing how every student HAS to go to school in the U.S.

We got to a certain part of town and the roads became horrible.  They were washed out and really hard to even walk on.  We came by lots of shops that doubled as people’s houses.  We walked by men making the fishing boats from wood.  We walked through where all the boats were docked after bringing the fish in for the day.  We walked through a fish market, which smelled super overpoweringly fishy!  I would bet that 95% of the children called “oburoni” to us as we passed.  (pronounced o-brew-knee)  But today, we heard lots of “oburoni kayo” with some song renditions of the phrase as well.  Oburoni kayo means very fair skinned/ foreign.  While I have no problem being called oburoni, it does make me think about the way I am presented to these people.  I keep wondering what the people of Winneba think that being white means.  Does it mean wealth?  Does it mean privilege?  Why is it that 2 year olds who can barely talk get super excited and yell oburoni as we pass?  The word has definitely made me and others in our group reevaluate what privilege means to us and how we are portrayed throughout the world just because of our skin color.  

Our walk ended on the beach where we were able to see the “pool”, a concrete structure built on the beach to swim in.  When we got home, we had walked for about an hour and a half from Challenging Heights and we were exhausted. However, it was time to start making dinner so some people did that while the rest of us talked.  For dinner today we had yams and palavar sauce.  After dinner, it was my turn to clean up so fellow GVSU students Bree, Sam, Chloe and I spent time washing dishes, cleaning the floors and tables, and organizing everything again.

When I was free of all my duties, I went to sit with fellow GVSU student Mackie and Robert (our host Emmanuel’s nephew) for a bit.  We were just talking and then Solomon (our host Emmanuel’s step-son) came over and asked if we wanted to play the game “spa”.  We didn’t know the game, but we said yes!  It’s a card game, and is actually super easy, but they were hilarious in trying to explain it.  We played that until it was time for our DANCE LESSONS!  Yay!  Every Monday and Wednesday we will be learning Ghanaian dances! We all felt SO goofy and we were all SO drenched in sweat, but it was SO fun!  We danced to the beat of drums, recorders, and bells.

Taking time to reflect on the day and the statistics has been really important.  It was hard to digest everything that we discussed with Dr. David and then seeing the kids in the fishing community.  While it’s not emotionally easy to make ourselves aware of what is occurring around the globe and even in our own communities, it’s something that we need to make a bigger priority of.  I am hoping that with the 15 of us students sharing our experiences with our family, friends, and others we will be able to make a dent in the advocacy for ending human trafficking throughout the world.  Please, join us in our efforts!  Check out Challenging Heights’ website & learn ways to support this amazing organization:

1 comment:

  1. Do you still have contact with Challenging Heights?