Beacon House USA is the parent of Beacon House Ghana, NGOs dedicated to lost, abandoned, or abused children in Ghana, West Africa. We are a small NGO (only 6 people) that works through the Ghana Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to protect the most vulnerable children. Motivation for our work is found in James 1:27, “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”
As Ghana continues its pace towards being a middle-income country, society is transforming where families are becoming more nuclear. Parents are taking more active roles in their children’s upbringing. The old system of extended family participation was ripe for abuse where children were given to (or taken by) extended family members to work on farms or industry for the supposed benefit of the entire family. Unfortunately, that old system still exists and contributes to the exploitation of young children.
According to research, child mistreatment is still at significant levels. Findings from the Ghana Living Standard Survey (GLSS) in 2013 found that 23.4 per cent of children aged 5–14 years were engaged in some form of economic activities. These children are mainly involved in mining and quarrying, apprenticeships and household help. Ghana has been identified as a “main transit and destination” country for human trafficking. Children’s vulnerability to trafficking has increased largely due to poverty and lack of opportunities in rural areas. Primarily, children are trafficked from the poorer regions of the country to urban centers, forced into exploitive labor in fishing, agriculture, mining, pottering, street vending and domestic service. Less typical, but no less destructive, young children are trafficked from other nearby countries.
Early marriage, female genital mutilation and a system of ritual enslavement (trokosi) still persist although prohibited by law. It is estimated that 27 per cent of women aged 20–49 were first married before the age of 18. The trokosi system is practiced, though less openly, in districts of the Volta region, with an estimated 2,500 girl victims. Physical and sexual abuse is rampant, the number of cases officially reported to the Ghana Police Service increased from 1,128 in 2002 to more than 1,600 in 2009.
The ministry of BHUSA and BH-Ghana is to stand in the gap where national agencies simply cannot go or do not have the resources to help the children. We do not give grants to any government agency but work with the legal authorities to help children who have no one speaking or acting on their behalf. We are primarily funded through Christian Churches and Churches of Christ in the US and Ghana. While we do accept corporate and multi-lateral grants we only do so when those grants do not impose restrictions that impede our faith-based approach.