Express the Experience

Programs

Here’s some info about the programs we have at City of Refuge (COR). We’re still growing as an organization, so keep checking in to see what new things we’re implementing!

Freedom Center

The Freedom Center is where the rescued children live, play, and grow. It provides children with a caring staff, daily nutrition, an education, recreation, spiritual enrichment, and a nurturing family environment. Each child works with a staff member to develop an individualized learning plan and determine what emotional, physical and spiritual needs they have. Staff and volunteers seek community participation and campaign to promote the value of each child’s life as inherently significant and a vital part of the future.

The COR Safe Home houses children who were living in fishing communities and were at risk of exploitation, such as trafficked children from Lake Volta, or children referred by the Social Welfare office. Upon their arrival, each child participates in a needs assessment which takes into account their background, education, and physical condition. Many of the children are years behind their schooling and some have serious physical ailments which have not been attended to. The children all attend City of Refuge’s school, Faith Roots International Academy, where they are taught in small groups and instruction is focused to bring each child up to their particular grade level. They also get regular check-ups and follow-up care as needed for their physical health.

Faith Roots International

City of Refuge’s new school, Faith Roots International Academy, was founded in September 2010 under the leadership of Autumn Buzzell, the Director of Education. The children of the Freedom Center all attend the school, and are taught in small groups by two local Ghanaian teachers as well as Ms.Buzzell. Class sizes are intentionally small so that instruction is focused and tailored to each of the students’ needs. This is done to help bring each child up to their particular grade level since they are usually performing below their grade level when they arrive at the Freedom Center. The academy uses an American curriculum (Alpha and Omega) along with Ghanaian curriculum tools for instruction. It has a strong focus on helping the children learn English since it’s the main language used in the workplace and they come from communities where English is rarely spoken, if at all.

Feeding Program

City of Refuge makes frequent trips to several towns in the Volta region to check up on the local children and the community. During these visits, we have a mass “Feed”, that is, we register, feed and “de-worm” (provide medicine for parasites and ringworm) the local children. The effects of one pill lasts up to three months, so we visit each town once every three months.

The main focus of these trips to keep track of the children living in the community. When we register a child, we take down their age, address, and parents’ names. We also note the physical condition they are in. Doing this lets us figure out which children have families in the town, and which may have been sold to someone living in the community. Since we also follow up on registered children every three months, we can monitor their health and status. If a child goes missing for some months, we take that as initiative to begin investigations about their whereabouts. Usually when something like that happens, it means the child was probably sold.

7 Continents

Seven Continents is City of Refuge’s emerging program. It will help end child trafficking through another approach –namely, by empowering impoverished single mothers who often times have no alternative but to give away their children in hopes that they will have a better life with someone else. This situation is making children a commodity, something to be sold and bought. With this understanding, we will not only continue to rescue children from the lake but we will also tackle the issue from the point of supply and demand.

In order for us to end the supply of the children we have to address the issues of the vulnerable single mother. We will do this by employing her at a fair wage, educating her if she doesn’t know how to read and write as well as how to budget her money, introducing her to love of Christ through discipleship training, providing her support with her children and giving her leadership skills. Seven Continents is our plan for creating a sustainable path to self-empowerment for these vulnerable women.

Our first project will begin in Tema New Town, within the next few weeks. It will begin with eight single mothers who are raising their children on their own. These women will learn how to sew, make jewelry, glass beads and other products. These products will then be sold in the US to enable us to continue paying our employees and to expand the company throughout the villages that are in most need of jobs for their single mothers.

Child Trafficking Awareness

We raise awareness about child trafficking internationally through our website, blog, Facebook and Twitter accounts. We also work with other organizations, such as Y-Gap, Feeding the Orphans, Finding Refuge, and Changing the Chain: Ride West Africa. Our volunteers and interns also help us spread the word within their respective home countries, just as Tom Goldner recently did with his Photos for Freedom project.


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