Community sensitisation is essential to reducing young people’s vulnerability to kidnappings, drug abuse and teenage pregnancy, says Joseph Wemakor.
Ghana, a beautiful peaceful, culturally rich country in Western Africa, is home to a little over 30 million people. In recent history it has had the privilege of relative stability compared to many countries on the African continent but in 2018 something terrible happened.
This bizarre saga hit like a tsunami sending shock waves of intense consternation and trepidation across the country. Sometimes kidnappers demanded and received huge ransoms. Sometimes, fortunately, the Security Forces were able to rescue those kidnapped. Others have still never been released.
As the spate of kidnappings continued into 2019, President Nana Akufo-Addo responded with urgency in an attempt to allay people’s fears, pledging his government’s determination to put an end to the kidnappers’ activities. But it takes more than rhetoric to curtail such a worrying canker. And I knew I had to do something to compliment the government’s efforts.
Education reduces vulnerability.
And together, with my amazing team of volunteers we began a sensitisation campaign. We enlightened our fellow Ghanaians, particularly young people who were most at risk, on the tricks being employed by kidnappers.
It is this sort of education of the general population which has led to a drastic reduction in instances of successful kidnappings in Ghana.”
This kind of community education is essential to addressing all social crises. And that’s why we created the ‘Kidnapping, Teenage Pregnancy and Tramadol/Drug Abuse Sensitization Campaign’ (KTT). We were able to use our educative network of volunteers to fight all three of these momentous issues at once.
These issues are directly tied to high unemployment rates and frustrations at the lack of further education and training opportunities.”
The KTT campaign focused on addressing the issues of kidnapping, teenage pregnancy and drug abuse but equally set about creating a deeper education on human rights to bring about a cultural change. Over two years we reached over 60,000 Ghanaians sensitising them on the most pressing and critical social and human rights issues Ghana is facing.
I have also established ‘the Human Rights Reporters Ghana’ (HRRG) which is dedicated to protecting and ending human rights abuses in Ghana and beyond. The HRRG brings together journalists, news editors, human rights activists, advocates, defenders and lawyers together to advance the rights of women, girls, children, young people living with disabilities and other minority groups.
Difficult situations are always bound to arise each step of our way which can deter our progress in life. Few could have predicted the sudden wave of kidnappings in 2018, but how we deal with such situations determines our failure or success.
Joseph Kobla Wemakor is a dynamic and prolific writer of no mean repute, a blogger and an ardent freelance online reporter/editor,a staunch human rights activist and a youth leader/advocate.
He doubles as the Founder cum Executive Director of Human Rights Reporters Ghana (HRRG), the Convenor of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) Youth Sub-Platform in Ghana as well as the Task Force Member (National Focal Person) of the African Network of Young Leaders for Peace and Sustainable Development (ANYL4SD) in Ghana.
Joseph is also the Head of Media and Communications at PLO Lumumba Foundation Ghana Chapter and the Head of Public Relations for the Greater Accra Regional Youth Network (GARYN).