World Council of Churches (WCC) deputy general secretary Prof. Dr Isabel Phiri offered an opening prayer and reflections. “As we all know, COVID-19 has further increased the risk of modern slavery, however, the pandemic crisis also brings an opportunity for lasting and sustainable systemic changes,” she said.
The workshop was co-organized by the Christian Council of Ghana, the WCC and The Clewer Initiative, as a result of the Clewer Initiative proposal for international scale up. The effort is part of the Churches' Commitments to Children, a WCC initiative in partnership with UNICEF to promote capacity building for churches’ support to children.
Dr Cyril Fayose, general secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, expressed appreciation for the collaboration he believes will lead to “safe, inclusive, resilient communities in our dear nation Ghana and for future generations” and, once and for all, “bring an end to the evil of modern slavery in our society.”
Caroline Virgo, director of The Clewer Initiative, reflected that modern slavery is not just one nation’s problem but a global problem. “I think it might surprise some people that, in the UK, there are an estimated 136,000people involved in modern slavery,” she said. “We work with the churches to engage with communities, and to see the global effects on other groups of people.”
The hardships and difficulties faced by children in Ghana include slavery and forced labor, poverty, physical and moral violence, sexual abuse, lack of quality education, and certain ancestral rites. Studies have shown that one out of every five trafficked children dies from diseases and various causes. Still others succumb to sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS.
Workshop participants also discussed how the climate crisis fuels modern slavery, the particular strengths of church communities in combating child modern slavery in Ghana, and proposed suggestions for joint actions by churches.