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Integrity Institute

Using child rights as a bridge to reduce risks of trafficking, build resiliency in vulnerable communities, and secure promising futures.

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*Please Upload User Experience Map (as attachment) and any additional insights gathered from Beneficiary Feedback in this field

Our User Experience Map follows the story of a child who was trafficked in to child labor in the fishing industry on Lake Volta. His journey continues, however, after he is rescued. He has a chance to be a child again, with a life in his community, joined by family and friends. Kwame participates in the Integrity Institute and shapes human rights activities with fellow students in the communities where they live. They change their community for the better, and flourish as successful students.

Why does the target community define this problem as urgent and/or a priority? How is the idea leveraging and empowering community assets to help create an environment for success? (1000 characters)

The target community (students) see addressing children’s rights as a need because they believe it leads to more children attending school. They believe when children know their rights they have the power to speak up for themselves. Our implementing staff’s direct experience with pilots show when children are educated about their rights, they seek help and join us in pursuing a shared mission of advancing children's rights. The biggest asset of our community is the population of youth. Our participants are hard working, with tenacity, diligence, and will. Our idea leverages them, their voices, and their power because it deconstructs traditional Ghanaian hierarchy. The Integrity Institute is a platform where children can gain confidence, learn their rights, and speak out against injustice. The platform serves as a foundation, a starting point, but is intended to support and cultivate leadership so our participants feel and believe they can tackle issues within communities on their own

How does the idea fit within the larger ecosystem that surrounds it? Urgent needs are usually a symptom of a larger issue that rests within multiple interrelated symptoms - share what you know about the context surrounding the problem you are aiming to solve. (500 characters)

Poverty, naivety, and the culture of entrusting children to the care of extended family members and friends are widely acclaimed to be fundamental causes of child trafficking. Challenging Heights approaches all initiatives by addressing root causes of trafficking, and by recognizing how interconnected and intertwined they are. We know these root causes increase the risks of trafficking and endanger children. Trafficking impacts families and children, coastal communities, and Ghana as a whole.

How does the idea affect or change the fundamental nature of the larger ecosystem that surrounds it (as described above) in a new and/or far-reaching way? (500 characters)

The Integrity Institute changes the fundamental ecosystems it surrounds by changing systems of power in the community. By leveraging the voices of children, we address naivety. The Integrity Institute encourages thinking beyond one's self, seeing and caring for one another, acknowledging others’ needs, and validating them. This care helps children look out for one another, and report when instances of trafficking occur; it combats naivety.

What will be different within the target community as a result of implementing the idea? What is the scope and scale of that difference? How long will it take to see that difference and how will it be sustained beyond BridgeBuilder support? (500 characters)

Our past success shows the impact of the child rights clubs on our community. More students are enrolled in school and stand for rights, parents are aware of the dangers of trafficking and tactics used by traffickers. Fewer instances of trafficking occur. The 36 month support will allow us to build a strong foundation for the clubs, without creating reliance, and set in motion a lasting programme. We will cultivate community ownership of the clubs to transition from BridgeBuilder support.

How has the idea evolved or responded to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase and any further insights provided if you participated in the Expert Feedback Phase? (1000 characters)

We have built the design of the Integrity Institute on collaboration. To us, this means our implementing staff design the programme in a way that best fits the needs of our audience, within a scope they determine, to achieve the most necessary outcomes which they (alongside the community) have declared a priority. It also means we create space for our participants to provide us with feedback, and bring ideas of their own, to shape the child rights clubs in a way they believe is most beneficial to their communities. Engaging these voices is vitally important to the sustainability of child rights clubs in our community, and we hope the organisation can act as a facilitator which guides the foundation of the clubs, without creating reliance. In addressing age hierarchies, we will engage local leaders of community institutions such as schools, community organisations, and local businesses to see, understand, and invest in the work our youth leaders of the child rights clubs embark on.

What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years? (You can attach a timeline or GANTT chart in place of a written plan, if desired.) (1000 characters)

Above is a sample timeline projection for implementation over the next 3 years. Before hosting the community durbar introducing the Integrity Institute, we will host radio announcements to reach large audiences, who otherwise may not be notified of the community durbar event. In addition to the durbar, we will use our established relationships with families in the communities to recruit students for the Integrity Institute and to spread the word. Our team of Reintegration Officers spend time in the field, monitoring and supporting children, and are our greatest asset as a tie to the community. Their lasting relationships with families and children endorse our efforts and child rights initiatives.

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of roles and responsibilities for each entity). (Feel free to share an organizational chart or visual description of your team). (500 characters)

Implementers: - Challenging Heights Reintegration Officers - Challenging Heights Rescue & Community Engagement Manager - Community Child Protection Committee Members - Teachers and School Administrators

What aspects of the idea would potential BridgeBuilder funds primarily support? (500 characters)

The BridgeBuilder funds would support the full cost of implementing the Integrity Institute, as well as any start-up costs associated with the child rights clubs (ie: materials for participants).

In preparation for our Expert Feedback Phase: What are three unanswered questions or challenges that you could use support on in your project? These questions will be answered directly by experts matched specifically to your idea and needs.

1) Our Beneficiary Feedback interviews showed us the children who know about their rights are the ones who are in school, and those who aren’t in school are the ones who know nothing about their rights, so how can the Integrity Institute target children who are not in school and therefore least informed about their rights? 2) How can we best address the cultural implications of age hierarchies that exist in Ghana? What examples do you have of successful approaches to challenging this hierarchy to create a space for youth to have a voice? 3) Beyond reserving spaces for a balanced and equitable gender distribution of attendees, how can we continue to disrupt the power imbalance between genders that is prevalent in Ghana? For example, you may notice in our Student Feedback Interview, Obed almost always answers before Faustina. We believe this is representative of classroom dynamics in Ghana, and would like feedback on how to best approach this cultural norm?

Final Updates (*Please do not complete until we reach the Improve Phase*): How has the idea evolved or responded to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase and any further insights provided if you participated in the Expert Feedback Phase? (1000 characters)

As part of the expert feedback phase, our expert Laura mentioned engaging parents of children who are not enrolled in school to better reach those who do not know their rights. The importance of long-standing relationships within the community is a key component to success here. Luckily, our physical presence in the community we work in, combined with our reputation and history supporting local fishermen and fish mongers, positions us well with strong ties in the community. Our incorporation of Laura’s recommendations emerges as the initial community durbar event we plan to host. At this event, families and community members will be invited to learn about the mission of the Integrity Institute, the goal of reinstating the child rights clubs, and what their children have the opportunity to take part in. The durbar will be a way for us to reach children who are not in school, connect with their parents, and discuss participation in the Integrity Institute.

During this Improve Phase, please use the space below to add any additional information to your proposal.

Taking a global agenda like the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and using it as a foundation to inform and educate youth to help them apply those global issues to a local context, is important for ensuring they are the ones driving change and creating solutions to problems in their community. We see the SDGs as addressing Peace, Prosperity and Planet and we believe the global agenda creates a strong foundation to address Peace, Prosperity and Planet in a radically new way - by allowing youth to make informed decisions about identifying problems in their communities and then forming solutions to solve those issues based on the background knowledge they gain from the global agenda. We think it is important for youth to drive the solution and idea generation in their communities to disrupt cycles of trafficking which impact peace in Ghana’s coastal communities. Through discussions and participant led debates on teen pregnancy, corporal punishment, child labor, child trafficking, and access to education, we will cultivate each child’s right to think freely and form their own opinions about issues facing their community. By introducing leadership and team building activities, students will have the chance to think beyond themselves and participate in collaborative idea-generation and problem solving, preparing them to lead child rights club programming in their host communities. The curriculum will present children with education on SDGs, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and Peace, Prosperity and Planet. Lessons will help bridge all three and provide students with an example of how their club could execute a project bringing those things together. For example, bridging Prosperity and Planet to SDG 2 Zero Hunger and Article 27 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, we may bring in local farmers to teach children about growing maize or farming cassava. We would apply that to the local context by recommending an activity that the child rights clubs could launch, such as creating a farm on their school grounds. This activity means students have ownership of raising those crops, and practice financial management with selling and distributing the crops.

Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Our project bridges Peace, Prosperity, and Planet by leveraging the power of youth as ambassadors for change, community development, and human rights. We believe children have the power to create change and if given the opportunity, will lead change in their communities. The Integrity Institute will develop leaders who will bring knowledge back to their communities and lead local child rights clubs, driven by the visions they have for their communities, where more children will learn critical information about addressing global challenges that also touch them at home. By bringing leaders back to the communities to begin clubs, the program will be sustainable and scalable. These locally-led, student-driven clubs will address children's rights, commit to the SDGs, and foster change. We foresee this program helping youth change the world by empowering them to create innovative solutions to the challenges they face by investing in leadership development and youth-led community change - a practice not yet explored where we work. The project idea bridges solutions to global challenges by connecting the SDGs and human rights education with the power of children, their voices, and their leadership. The Integrity Institute will help to solve root causes of trafficking, particularly poverty and naivety, by sensitizing children, cultivating their leadership potential, and encouraging their visionary contributions to the betterment of their communities. Child leaders will participate in trainings and youth camps to gain vital leadership skills for them to begin the clubs, then prepare more children to become change agents. The participants will learn the value cooperation, respectful conflict resolution, and autonomous dialogue all have for coexistence and collaboration. The aim of the program is not only to educate and foster strong leaders, but also to ensure children have a voice, and use that voice to create resiliency and meaningful change in their communities.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Direct Beneficiaries - Children aged 10-15 from coastal communities vulnerable to trafficking in Ghana including but not limited to: Winneba, Apam, Mumford, Senya, and Gomoa - Child survivors of modern slavery and trafficking aged 10-17 - Reintegrated children aged 10-17 Beneficiaries will be selected from the demographics above by our Community Child Protection Committees - community volunteers who build resiliency in the community & our Reintegration Officers. Indirect Beneficiaries - Parents and community members of coastal communities vulnerable to child trafficking in Ghana - Siblings of participants - Peers and students of participants from coastal communities vulnerable to child trafficking - Coastal communities vulnerable to child trafficking in Ghana including but not limited to: Winneba, Apam, Mumford, Senya, and Gomoa. - Durbar attendees: community members aged 3-50 from communities vulnerable to child trafficking

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

We know the global challenges of peace, prosperity, and planet are complex and must be addressed collaboratively, interweaving existing interventions to solve them. To adequately solve this problem, we are leveraging the power of children. Participants will disseminate knowledge in their communities, discussing the importance of everyone’s inherent right to Peace, Prosperity, & Planet. They will discuss, plan, and lead initiatives they believe will best ensure prosperous communities. By sharing knowledge and allowing their perspective to guide initiatives, greater social cohesion, interconnectedness, and community-led change will be strengthened in Ghana. Inherent to the design of this programming and its activities is the unique advantage of being catered to the specific needs of the people in the source communities where we work. We believe our holistic model of listening to local voices and understanding local contexts works, and is the greatest strength of the Integrity Institute.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

For 15 years Challenging Heights, a survivor-led anti-trafficking NGO, has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to protecting children’s rights by consulting local populations, shaping programming in innovative ways to solve the specific issues, according the needs & desires expressed by these populations. Our founder James committed himself to educating children about their rights & provided a safe, protective environment where vulnerable children were able to thrive challengingheights.org

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

Past experience with child rights clubs inspired our idea. James is a survivor of child slavery; he worked for 7 years on Lake Volta. After managing to escape, and overcoming community rejection, James put himself through school then returned home to impact children's lives for the better. In 2005, the clubs were born. Building resiliency against trafficking and educating children about their rights, the clubs had a lasting change on the community, providing a safe place for children to be free.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Prosperity means poverty alleviation and economic empowerment; it occurs when basic necessities are met. Prosperity and Planet are influenced by overfishing in Ghana's coastal communities; the fish stock has been depleted to the point of threatening the livelihoods of fishermen. Overfishing has led impoverished fishermen to recruit children for unpaid labor. Many have resorted to illegal fishing methods, but these methods are not sustainable. We define peace as an interconnectedness between human beings that allows for cooperation, inclusion, and equal participation in society. Peace is influenced by family separation and the movement of children. The movement of children amongst relatives for the pursuit of better opportunities is a Ghanaian cultural norm. Traffickers capitalize on this tendency by deceiving parents into handing over their children. Threats to PP, & P demand our attention. Responding to their interconnectedness with integrity, partnership, & humility is our aim.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

We learn from our experiences and from those around us; we hear what people hope for children in their communities, listen to their visions for the town, and cater the clubs to the needs and wishes of those most vulnerable to trafficking. We believe strong, collaborative partnerships create a powerful momentum of change and are part of a rich anti-trafficking community of NGOs, with whom we will work alongside for this project. We are founding member of the Coalition of NGOs Against Child Trafficking, working to end child trafficking in Ghana. We work closely with Family for Every Child, a global alliance of organizations working with vulnerable children. Imagine You Can will lend curricular support. James’ recognition as a World Children’s Prize hero has connected us with a community of global change makers. We have used this network to share knowledge, and drew support for our Integrity Institute from Maiti Nepal, an organization fighting for girls’ rights in Kathmandu, India.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Strengths of Community - 1/3 of the population in Winneba are 15 years or younger (according to the 2010 census data) - Culture of accepting community projects and initiatives

Geographic Focus

The Child Rights Clubs are a resilience-building strategy to combat trafficking in Ghana.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

We will begin the Integrity Institute plans immediately upon receiving the grant; all activities will be completed in 36 months. First we will host the Integrity Institute. The students will then gather peers for their very own child rights clubs. We will host three community durbars to explain project mission and vision. The clubs will meet weekly and will host community events addressing the SDGs. The Integrity Institute graduates will meet three times for training and once for a final wrap

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No
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Attachments (4)

Integrity Institute Workplan and Logic Model.pdf

Attached is a first draft of out Integrity Institute Workplan and Logic Model.

Integrity Institute Sample Lesson Plan.pdf

A sample lesson plan for the introductory session of the Integrity Institute. At their core, the child rights clubs are grounded in preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society and encouraged discussion of what rights mean for children as individuals and for their society, how rights can only have meaning if they are balanced by responsibilities and how young people can exercise their rights in everyday life.

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Photo of Christina Schwanke
Team

Nicole Ballou 

Good Morning! I have been meaning to read your proposal for some time and I am so glad I finally got to sit down and read it! I used to run a program that was intensive education for at risk children about sexual assault, bullying and domestic violence. One of the things that I learned during this time is that the most effective way to reach children....just like you are proposing.....is through other children. It also takes multiple interactions with children to help them truly embrace the information. It looks like you guys are on the right track for huge impact! I don't know if it would be helpful because you are dealing with alternative abuses but I think the Green Dot training from CALCASA is informative. I would love to see how your project evolves. If you would like please connect with me on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christina-schwanke-3660b468/

Best of Luck!

Christina Schwanke

Photo of Nicole Ballou
Team

Hi Christina Schwanke !

Thank you so much for taking the time to learn about our project. We're really excited about the potential impact student-driven clubs could have on our community. Thank you for sending along Green Dot! I've downloaded some materials to see how we can best incorporate the strategy into our curriculum!

Cheers,
Nicole

Photo of Christina Schwanke
Team

Great! Thank you for adding me on Linkedin! I look forward to seeing your progress.

Christina

Photo of iACT
Team

Hi Nicole, I love that your organization empowers youth to drive solutions and idea-generation in their communities and that you're focused on using the voices of youth and beneficiaries to further design your programme. Congratulations, and best of luck moving forward!

Photo of Isaac Jumba
Team

Hi Nicole Ballou 
Congratulations for making it to the refinement stage! I really like the visuals for your user experience map.
Are there any sort of activities or experiments that your team is planning to carry out over the next few weeks? If so, it will be interesting to share with the community what aspects of the projects you want to try out, and what the intended outcome would be. You might look at this resource for some guide: http://www.designkit.org/methods/34
I am also curious to know your approach to creating organization sustainability and growth apart form sourcing for grants. A business model canvas is always a recommended guide for this: http://www.designkit.org/methods/41
Looking forward to seeing the progress!
 

Photo of Nicole Ballou
Team

Hi Isaac Jumba !

Thank you for following us as we continue on in the Challenge! In the next few weeks, we're really looking to gain feedback from our project implementers and past participants, to better drive the design of the Integrity Institute. We launched a pilot of the programme last summer, and collected post-programme surveys from the children who participated. We are using these surveys to better inform our programme design. We know from their feedback that the Child Rights Clubs are something of interest to the community and children. Our goal now is to use their voices as a means to design the programme. We want to best suit their needs and interests, as well as gather insight into the implementers' capacity, before officially launching the Integrity Institute. We will be conducting a series of interviews, and will post those interviews here to share with the community!

As for our approach to sustainability at Challenging Heights, we've committed ourselves to a coordinated approach, which is grounded in partnerships. Our response to sustainability has been to grow and develop partnerships. One such example is where we care for children rescued by other NGOs in Ghana. We have restructured many aspects of our organisation to maintain focus on fundraising, and have a dedicated Grants and Partnerships team who secure funding from a diverse pool of dedicated donors. We will continue with both of those trends so that we are able to do two things: rehabilitate the increased numbers of children we intend to rescue ourselves, as well as provide the best rehabilitation in Ghana to a growing number of other child victims of trafficking. We currently have valuable partnerships with other NGOs who rescue and subsequently support their children once reintegrated. These include The Mercy Project, Free The Slaves, and Engage Africa Now. We hope to deepen and broaden those partnerships in the years to come, because we believe in the power of partnership when facing some of the world's most pressing issues.

In growing our organisation apart from sourcing grants, we have a strong base of international donors in the US and the UK. We also have a 501(c)(3) registered non-proft in the US, Friends of Challenging Heights, which is dedicated to fundraising for us. Furthermore, we are expanding our efforts to obtain funding from corporations, such as from our current partner TOMs Shoes. We have had a number of successful crowd funding campaigns. Finally, we have built several social enterprises designed to generate income for Challenging Heights, such as Nyce Media and Run Off, a media company and restaurant serving the business clientele of Winneba.

As for sustainability of the Integrity Institute and the Child Rights Clubs, we've structured participation using a tiered-approach. For example, participant ages will range from upper primary to junior high school. So when children move from JHS on to SHS (junior high school on to senior high school), additional spaces will be created for more upper primary students, then the previous upper primary students will continue on to JHS and will be seasoned leaders in the group. This tiered approach to participation will help us ensure we are cultivating leadership potential within the child right clubs and help us maintain a sustainable programme. It is our goal to create the child rights clubs in a way that is child-led and grounded in a self-sustaining way. This means we will garner support from the community, and leaders within the community, to sponsor the events our participants lead. We also believe much of our educational programming, child rights awareness raising, and community-based programming can be accomplished at little to no cost to the clubs. For example, past child rights clubs have led beach clean up days to support environmental initiatives in their community. This is one of many example activities where children put their education in to practice, without a reliance on funding.

Thank you for sending over the design kit materials! "Determining What to Prototype" has been particularly useful in helping us, and our programme implementers, ask the right questions about the scope and feasibility of our idea. Please let me know if you have any more questions! You're helping us think more deeply about our plans for implementation and we greatly appreciate your feedback.

Cheers,
Nicole

Photo of Isaac Jumba
Team

Thank you for your great response. Can't wait to see what comes off the interviews and planned experiments.

Photo of Nicole Ballou
Team

Thanks Isaac Jumba ! I also added a business model draft, as you and Tuba Naziruddin recommended. You can find it in the attachments!

Cheers,
Nicole

Photo of Isaac Jumba
Team

Hey @Nicole BallouNicole Ballou 
Great to see the progress of your idea since the challenge began and I like in particular, the highlights that you have shared with respect to the beneficiary and expert feedback, and some of the questions you raised during the expert feedback.
I also liked watching the beneficiary interview video to better understand their view on Child's rights and their suggested solutions.
As the improve phase comes to an end, it might be great for the team to dive deeper into providing more information with regards to your implementation plan: maybe share more on what the costs might look like exactly, and for what activities, and the team to make it happen.
Best!

Photo of Nicole Ballou
Team

Hi Isaac Jumba !

Thank you for following us through the Challenge! We find it so important to gain insights from the participants we work with, and were so enlightened by our student participants and their feedback to us for the Child Right Clubs!

I took the time to draft a Workplan and Logic Model, to provide a clearer picture of our implementation plan. I added it to the attachments, and the "What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years?" question.

In the attachments you will also find a draft of our budget projections for implementing the Integrity Institute, and supporting the Child Rights Clubs.

Thanks again for following us, and I hope these additional documents help provide more clarity for our plans!

Best,
Nicole

Photo of Laura Vermeer
Team

Hi Nicole,

I am working for Peace Direct, a peacebuilding organisation based in London. With our local partners, we work a lot on similar types of projects and i would happily share a few ideas on the 3 unanswered questions/challenges mentioned above. I am not that familiar with the context in Ghana but hopefully you will find these useful !

1. Our Beneficiary Feedback interviews showed us the children who know about their rights are the ones who are in school, and those who aren’t in school are the ones who know nothing about their rights, so how can the Integrity Institute target children who are not in school and therefore least informed about their rights?

It is indeed not always easy to work with kids who have no knowledge about their rights and to approach them with a new approach which is often met with reluctance, more especially in remote communities where education level is really low. Drawing from our work in Congo, it is important to build long-term links with the community leaders to ensure that the project is understood and accepted within the community. Without community endorsement, it will be hard to approach kids who are not going to school as they do not have any influential figures to look at besides the community leaders (as opposed to the ones going to school who have their teachers for guidance and advise for example). Discussing with the parents and building close relationship with them is also a really important step to make sure you will then be able to talk to the kids who are not going to school. Doing a start-up workshop at the beginning of the project would be a good idea to build a common understanding of what the project means to achieve.

2. How can we best address the cultural implications of age hierarchies that exist in Ghana? What examples do you have of successful approaches to challenging this hierarchy to create a space for youth to have a voice?

Related to the first question, a lot of these issues are tight to whether or not there will be community-buy in of the project. In a lot of communities, an organisation cannot start a project without ensuring it is benefiting from full community support. I am not familiar with the specific context in Ghana but I would advise you spend time explaining the project to the different groups within the community, including the elders one, and find a way to integrate them into the projects so they do not feel completely left out.

We have seen in our work in the Great Lakes region that a lot of young people are stigmatised within their community and tend to be seen as trouble-makers if they do not give back to the community. Another approach could then be around showing the older generations that youth can have an added value within their community. This can be done by setting up youth club or community mobilisation groups where young people work together on a project (road or market rehabilitation, depending on where the community needs are) that will benefit the entire community. In our work in Congo, this approach has helped eased the tensions between different generations and young people have been more accepted as valuable community members.

3. Beyond reserving spaces for a balanced and equitable gender distribution of attendees, how can we continue to disrupt the power imbalance between genders that is prevalent in Ghana? For example, you may notice in our Student Feedback Interview, Obed almost always answers before Faustina. We believe this is representative of classroom dynamics in Ghana, and would like feedback on how to best approach this cultural norm?

Disrupting the power imbalance is a long-term project and one needs to do in an appropriate way so as not to add fuel on the fire. This is definitely not easy. How about organising some workshops for the kids at school on basic women rights and on the importance of gender equality? I think it would also be important to organise the same workshops within the communities where the kids are from as many kids tend to mimic the behaviour they see around. For sustainable and long-term changes, this issue would need a project on its own but doing some advocacy at the grassroots level would be a good starting point.

I really enjoyed reading about your project ! Keep up the good work !

Best,

Laura

Photo of Nicole Ballou
Team

Hi Laura Vermeer !

Thank you for your feedback to our questions. We appreciate your perspective and will definitely incorporate some of your recommendations into our proposal.

Thanks again for taking the time,
Nicole

Photo of Marnie Glazier
Team

Thank you for your important work and for giving such clear and evocative explanations for each of the phases of development in your project. I find especially inspiring, the way that the children are involved and the impetus behind the project being children advocating for one another. Excellent work!

Photo of Nicole Ballou
Team

HI Marnie Glazier !

Thanks for following us through this stage. I'll be uploading the interviews with our students, past participants, and implementing staff members later today, if you're interested in hearing what they had to say about the Integrity Institute and Child Rights Clubs!

Best,
Nicole

Photo of Marnie Glazier
Team

Yes, I would love to hear more. Please feel free to email me directly at mglazier@hartnell.edu

Photo of Kathleen Rommel
Team

Hi Nicole,

What an inspiring project! I was interested in hearing more about how Challenging Heights' approach to community sensitization when reintroducing children into their communities. I imagine there may be some lingering stigma that the Childs Rights Clubs counter, but have you seen any actions to be particularly successful in easing the transition? Are there any particular challenges you're facing in this regard?

Keep up the great work!

Photo of Nicole Ballou
Team

Hi Kathleen Rommel !

Thank you for taking the time to read about our project! Your work in Malawi is so impressive also - I loved watching your videos and reading about your project.

The reintegration component of our work, and the stigma associated with children who have been on the Lake, is something we have identified as a challenge. We've found the best approach to ensuring children are successfully reintegrated and are living free, safe, full, and healthy lives, is to keep their reintegration confidential. This means only the family members and head school teachers are informed of the child's reintegration. Our reintegration team assesses stigma during their monitoring visits - each reintegrated child receives 2+ years of support from us. The reintegration team talks with the child about any stigma they face, meets with school administrators to learn how the child is participating in school, looks to faith leaders to see if the child has found community, and also conducts both announced and unannounced visits to the home and school to ensure the child is coping well with their environment. Our confidentiality protocol is fundamental to our child protection policies, and we believe it is the best way to allow the children we reintegrate to live the life, and have the childhood, they deserve.

In our interview with a past participant, Degraft, he speaks a little about the hesitation families had when our founder James introduced the child rights clubs to the community. One of the tried and true methods we've found successful is building trust in the community. A vast majority of our staff grew up in the community, and many have personal experiences with trafficking. This positions them as leaders in the community, who have strong, lasting, and established relationships with families and parents who may resist the idea. Engaging them in conversations is the way our staff continues to advance children's rights.

The participants of the child rights clubs will be both reintegrated children and children from vulnerable families (not reintegrated children alone). The content in the child rights clubs will also serve to reduce stigma in the communities!

As for our sensitisations and reintegration, each of these programmes operate relatively separately. Our sensitisation events serve to raise awareness about child labour on Lake Volta, and give families and community members a realistic understanding of the dangers and abuse children endure. These sensitisation events are one of the most effective ways we receive tips about children who have been trafficked. We find, after attending a sensitisation event, a family member have learned about what life is like for children on the lake, and will come to our staff and say "this happened to my nephew, please help me bring him back." So the tips we get as a result of the sensitisation events are incredibly valuable to our rescue operations.

Cheers!
Nicole

Photo of Kathleen Rommel
Team

Hi Nicole,

Thanks so much for following up with such a thoughtful response. It's clear that your team has approached the challenges with nuance, understanding, and passion—and I know the work is really paying off. Keep it up!

Kathleen

Photo of Anubha Sharma
Team

Hi Nicole it is a very important project, a childhood is every child's right and trafficking robs them of their basic fundamental right. I was wondering if there is anything being done to help the families that must be trafficking children due to extreme poverty and inability to find sustenance.

Photo of Nicole Ballou
Team

Hi Anubha Sharma ! Thanks for engaging with our idea!

We have successfully rescued over 500 children since our beginning. Once rescued, child survivors participate in our recovery programme at the Challenging Heights Hovde House shelter. While each child is in our care, our reintegration team locates their family or an alternative caregiver and works with them to ensure that each child will have a safe and healthy place to return home to.

We reintegrate children from our care into a family environment and then supporting those children and their families in the community. In order to reduce the possibility of re-trafficking, rescued and reintegrated children are closely monitored and supported with health, educational and livelihoods supports that reduce the burden on their families once they are reintegrated. One of the ways we support families is through our in-kind grant programme. Families with children who are being reintegrated are provided with in-kind grants to support the livelihoods of carers. For example, if a carer is a seamstress and we reunify her with a child who was rescued, we may provide her with 300 Cedis worth of fabric and thread, to support her business. This model serves to reinvest in an income generating activity, and prevents forming family reliance on the organisation in the form of cash assistance.

We design programming and activities that are catered to the specific needs of the people in the source communities where we work. We started a school in Sankor, a vulnerable community within Winneba, to provide a safe, child-friendly and well-resourced school environment at low cost to parents. We also operate a livelihoods site in Winneba that provides free smoke ovens for local fishmongers and a cold store where they can purchase fish to smoke year-round, without having to make the long and costly trip to Tema to purchase fish.

We also run youth empowerment projects in these communities, building the capacity of local youth to build profitable careers and break the cycle of poverty that leads to trafficking. This year’s youth empowerment programme includes leadership, business and financial management, computer skills, and sexual and reproductive rights trainings, in addition to an apprenticeship component and a special focus on breaking down barriers to employment for young women.

Through our Prevention efforts, we address poverty, naivety, and family separation - three main root causes of trafficking - through family economic empowerment initiatives, community sensitisation, and alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. Poverty, naivety, and the culture of entrusting children to the care of extended family members and friends are widely acclaimed to be fundamental causes of child trafficking. We provide a range of programmes designed to tackle the root causes of child trafficking, primarily working with women and children in underserved, hard-to-reach, and at-risk fishing communities in Ghana’s Central Region.

Finally, we regularly conduct community sensitisations that inform parents, caregivers, and the community at large about the dangers and realities of child trafficking in an engaging manner, and we facilitate Community Child Protection Committees (CCPC) to serve as a first point-of-contact in reporting cases of child trafficking and providing support for at-risk children.

The vast majority of our staff are local, and several members of our management team have personal experience informing their efforts to stop child trafficking. We consult local populations and shape our programming according the needs and desires expressed by these populations. We look for innovative ways to solve the specific issues facing the regions we serve.

I hope this provides you with some insight into how we support vulnerable families who are at risk of trafficking, or have been victims of trafficking previously!

Best,
Nicole

Photo of Ruth Wanjiku
Team

Congratulation on getting shortlisted! A very innovative and refreshing approach to tackling child trafficking through the empowerment of children and young people. Keep up the good work.

Photo of Nicole Ballou
Team

Hi Ruth Wanjiku !

Thank you for looking at our programme, and for your support.

Cheers,
Nicole

Photo of Gayanjith Premalal
Team

Hi Nicole Ballou ! Congratulations on getting short listed for the refinement phase! You have done some really good work on your submission by adding those well descriptive visuals. It's really easy to understand everything in your post.
In one of your stats, I saw that for the question, "Would you join a child rights club if one was created at friends international academy?", 12% of the children have responded as "Strongly Disagree". Any idea of looking into the reasons?

Photo of Nicole Ballou
Team

Hi Gayanjith Premalal ! Thank you for your interest in our idea, and for your support! We're really excited to be in the refinement phase.

A little more insight into our data - we collected survey responses in English, and while Ghana is an Anglophone country, hindsight taught us it may suit primary and JHS students better if the surveys were conducted in Fantse or Twi (one of the local languages). In looking at the data, one projection I can attribute the "Strongly Disagree" answers to is a potential language barrier. If you read the written answers alongside those that indicated "Strongly Disagree" you will see a contradiction. Therefore, we believe the students are in fact interested, and excited about, the Child Rights Clubs coming to their school and community. While the survey response answers show inconsistencies, we thought it still important to truthfully portray what the students wrote. One other insight is the potential that positioning the Child Rights Clubs as an after school programme conflicts with student availability, and may be a reason for the "Strongly Disagree" response. Some students have household chores to attend to, or often help their families financially by selling goods immediately after school closes. For these reason, we are looking into establishing the Clubs as an evening programme, to better align with our participants' availability.

As a way to collect cleaner data in response to this discrepancy, we have decided to conduct our student-participant interviews in Fantse, which will be available (with English subtitles) in our final submission by the end of the Beneficiary Feedback Phase!

Thanks for asking for more details on our data!
Nicole

Photo of Gayanjith Premalal
Team

Great! Love to see you guys learning from the mistakes and improving further. Keep it up!

Photo of Tuba Naziruddin
Team

Hi Nicole Ballou ! Congratulations on getting selected! I love your idea and the way you have represented it. It is so easy to understand and visually intuitive. I love the use of personas in your user map, you have followed our checklist well. I am curious to learn more details on the impact of your idea. Can you share some learnings from your pilot. Also can you share a business plan, I am curious to learn about how you plan to get more funding for these activities. Also have you thought about making an explainer video for your idea? Check out : https://www.kasradesign.com/explainer-video-production/

Photo of Nicole Ballou
Team

Hi Tuba Naziruddin ! Thank you for taking the time to learn more about our idea, and for asking us questions about it! We're excited to share more about our past experiences with the Child Rights Clubs.

Impact
We've conducted an interview with our Rescue and Community Engagement Manager, Stephen, who led the child rights clubs previously. His insights are important, as he is one of the key staff members who led implementation of our pilot, and his interview will be available in our final submission! In my conversation with Stephen, he talked a lot about children transforming as leaders in the community. When children participate in the clubs, they are empowered and serve as a voice in the community. Community leaders will consult them, and they become a point of reference for other children in the community to look up to. One specific example Stephen named was an instance where a parent was having trouble with their child misbehaving. She brought her child to the child rights club, to use the participants' behavior as an example for her child. The child then joined the club and became a leader himself. Stephen (and all of us at Challenging Heights) believes when the children participant, they are more motivated. They perform better in school, engage more with the community, and his direct experience shows there is a clear change in behavior and how the participants interact in the community. As part of the child right clubs activities, the children sent messages to the community and would signal awareness to the community and community members about child trafficking. For example, the clubs hosted a documentary screening to bring information to the community about child trafficking. This led to community leaders consulting the child right clubs participants when investigating instances of trafficking - the children at times are more aware when their friends and neighbors are trafficked, and they serve as a powerful voice in the community. Ultimately, the impact we've seen the child rights clubs having on the community is cultivating leaders who become examples for others to live up to. We have also seen past participants move on to gain advanced degrees, as we instill the value and promise of education throughout our curriculum. I think the interview with Stephen (and some of our past participants) will speak to the greater impact of the clubs. I'll comment here once our final editing is complete, so you can see it!

Learnings From Pilot
Our pilot taught us a lot! We know now implementing the child rights clubs using local schools as a catalyst is the most feasible and efficient way to implement. We learned children are more available in the evening hours to participate, as opposed to the afternoon hours. We learned children gain a lot from reproductive and sexual health education. We learned it is challenging, yet vital, to allow the students ownership of their clubs - our aim is to become irrelevant. We want the clubs to be self-sufficient, and wholly led by the student leaders.

Sustainability & Funding
As for funding sustainability of the Integrity Institute and the Child Rights Clubs, we've grounded our design in community ownership. Challenging Heights has a track record of developing initiatives which become community owned. Our cold store livelihoods site and the school we established are two such examples. Our cold store is self-sustaining, and in 2016 our school was gifted to the community and is no longer managed by Challenging Heights. We believe it is important to implement ideas which are determined by the community itself, as a way of satisfying their needs and their desires. In line with that philosophy, is engaging with the community regularly, and forming partnerships where our initiatives can thrive without our support. It is our goal to create the child rights clubs in a way that is child-led and grounded in a self-sustaining way. This means we will garner support from the community, and leaders within the community, to sponsor the events our participants lead. We do not want to create reliance, so our Integrity Institute activities and curriculum will be replicable at the community level in the form of the child rights clubs. All of this being said, we foresee our idea requiring upfront costs and will not be seeking additional funds past the 36 month implementation plan if awarded GHR funding.

Explainer Video
Thanks for sending over this resource! We are compiling our interviews, and plan to make them into a video for our final submission and I think we will use the explainer video philosophy to inform how we finalize our submission!

Business Plan
This is a component I'll work on over the next few days to add as supplemental information to our submission. I think it will help create a better picture for you all! Stay tuned :)

Best,
Nicole

Photo of Erin Burba
Team

Hi Nicole, very interesting idea. Empowering the children to cause change in their communities will have impacts reaching far beyond those of the program. I'm curious if you or a partner organization works with local authorities or leaders to address the adults who partake in human trafficking? I think the communities could further benefit if there's intervention against those who commit these acts, either through legal action or programs that provide alternatives to child slavery. While empowerment and resilience training can help the children in the program and their friends, children who aren't reached by the program will remain vulnerable as long as there are people who seek to exploit them. I think your program does a great job at addressing those who are impacted or at risk by this problem, and see potential for even greater impact with more action aimed towards prevention.

I'd be interested to learn about the lives of these children after they complete your program, to see how they apply these lessons and skills as they grow.

Best, Erin

Photo of Nicole Ballou
Team

Hi Erin,

Thank you for commenting and asking this question! We have found naivety to be one of the main causes in trafficking of children in the communities where we work - often times families are targeted by traffickers and groomed to send their children to the lake. Other experiences show families don't know what life is truly like for children working on the lake. To address naivety, we have created strong, trusting relationships with traditional leaders and community members in the form of our Community Child Protection Committees (CCPC). CCPC members are leaders who build trust with the community to support rescue initiatives, advocacy campaigns, and reporting. They help with sensitization anti-trafficking education efforts. Members also serve as a connection between us and the communities we work in. The CCPCs provide us with critical community information, which we use to successfully rescue trafficked children and reintegrate survivors with their families. Our CCPCs also work with the parents through the long-term monitoring of the children. We also engage with local authorities to address adults who partake in human trafficking through our partnerships with other anti-trafficking organizations, such as IJM who are well equipped to embark on prosecution of traffickers.

In reference to your point about the lives of children after participating in the child rights clubs, we can only speak to those who participated in the clubs before our organization was formed. Before officially founding our organization, James (our founder), used child rights clubs as a resiliency-building tool in the community from which he was trafficked from. He identified vulnerable families in the community, and began engaging the children in human rights education. He discussed with them the importance of staying in school, and the dangers of trafficking. Of all the children in the first group he mentored, a group of about ten, all have gone on to complete University, and most have their Masters degree. James' ultimate aim to the clubs were to use the power of education as a tool to life children out of poverty, as his own education did for him. This goal is central to our Integrity Institute as well.

I hope this answers your question!
Nicole

Photo of Erin Burba
Team

That's a really amazing outcome from the first group, truly well done. And a well-rounded approach to involving the families and community. Thanks for the clarification, this definitely helped me understand! All the best!

Photo of Erin Burba
Team

That's a really amazing outcome from the first group, truly well done. And a well-rounded approach to involving the families and community. Thanks for the clarification, this definitely helped me understand! All the best!

Photo of Nicole Ballou
Team

Thanks Erin Burba !

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Team

I am a big fan of Challenging Heights/James' work. I'm curious if you are taking any of the learnings coming out of Haiti's anti-trafficking experience and using it in this project? In Haiti the government established an anti-trafficking committee approximately 2 years ago and this committee has been vital for connecting the NGO groups working on Deinstitutionalization (and the anti trafficking work necessary to end institutionalization of children) with the government and their policies, needs and priorities. If you haven't yet, check out some of the online reports on Haiti and it would be great to see this project linked closely across stakeholders like the government as well as providers of orphanages/institutions who contribute to the proliferation of trafficking of children. Amanda

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Team

Hi Amanda Cox -

Thank you for your message! It is great to hear you're aware of Challenging Heights and James. We hadn't infused our projects with the learnings from Haiti's anti-trafficking experiences, but this is something we will look in to! Thank you for the recommendation.

Best of luck,
Nicole

Photo of Angi Yoder Maina
Team

Hi Nicole Ballou , I do see the synergies of your project in Ghana and ours in Kenya and the Wan Fambul project in Sierra Leone that John Caulker of Fambul Tok just posted as you are leveraging the power those most impacted by violence to be a part of their own solutions -- children.

I am sure you have also seen, children in Africa or often told to be quiet and just be seen. How does your project tackle the issues of cultural expectations for children to be lead by adults and not to take up leadership roles at the community level? Is there work with the adults that prepares them to accept the children's newly learned roles?

All the best, Angi.

Photo of Nicole Ballou
Team

Hi Angi Yoder Maina Thank you for your question, and for bringing the cultural context of the role of children into the discussion.

Since Ghana's enactment of the children's Act of 1998, we have seen views about children changing. The Act requires children to be heard and their best interest considered in matters that concern them. Some NGOs (Kuapa Kokoo, Camfed etc…) have been designing projects that are child-led with reasonable degree of success. We want to imitate this within the communities where we work, in the form of our child rights clubs, since this approach not yet been explored. Additionally, our methodology (the child led approach) is carried out with adults as patrons and will not be done in isolation from the children.

We regularly conduct community sensitizations that inform parents, caregivers, and the community at large about the dangers and realities of child trafficking in an engaging manner. Our community open day durbars in our project will serve as sensitization events which introduce and inform adults in the community about children gaining leadership within the community.

Additionally, we facilitate Community Child Protection Committees (CCPCs) who are members and leaders in the community. They build trust with the community to support our efforts and often are a first point-of-contact in reporting cases of child trafficking and providing support for at-risk children. They are an integral connection between us and the communities we work in. The CCPCs provide us with critical community information while also working with families and care givers in the community. The CCPC members will also be engaged in spreading the word about children's roles in the community and the child rights clubs!

Thanks again for your feedback and questions!
Nicole

Photo of Marnie Glazier
Team

Very important initiative! Excellent work articulating your ideas and illustrating strategic goals.

Photo of Nicole Ballou
Team

Hi Marnie Glazier 

Thanks for your comments and feedback!

Best of luck,
Nicole