Student-Led Club Helps Raise Awareness on Irregular Migration in Ghana
Accra — “We are not relenting on our efforts but will continue to champion the safe migration campaign. We want as many people as possible to know the risks involved so they will use safer and dignified options,” says Sofiyya, 19-year-old young Ghanaian senior high school student.
Sofiyya is the President and a founder of the Mercy Migration Club in Accra, which empowers students to learn about, and help raise awareness on the dangers of irregular migration. The club is the first ever student-led migration club in the country and also provides a space to discuss pathways for Ghanaian youth to thrive without risking their lives.
In the past, Sofiyya participated in community outreach events organised by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to raise awareness among youths on the danger of irregular migration. But for her, participating in these activities was not enough, more needed to be done to ensure that her peers are exposed to the realities of irregular migration.
“This is an important issue in our communities and should be given the needed attention it desires to save lives and dignity,” she said.
Since May 2017, 1,049 Ghanaians have returned to their communities of origin with IOM support through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration. About 35 per cent of them fall within the school age in the country (up to 26 years old) according to a recent Assistance to Voluntary and Humanitarian Return report. This is not surprising given that nearly half of Ghana’s population is under 25 years of age. Many youth in Ghana consider migration as one of the few options to improve their lives. Testimonies by returned migrants and interviews with heads of schools revealed that most of the returned migrants had dropped out of school before they left.
“It became clear to us that many of the youths did not have full knowledge of the dangers of travelling irregularly in the desert,” explained Collins Yeboah, Outreach Assistant with IOM Ghana. “Therefore, we opted for peer-to-peer messaging targeting high school students,” he added.
More than 30 members of the club, all high school students, had worked with their other comrades to discuss the dangers of irregular migration, and the various ways youth can thrive in Ghana without risking their lives.
So far, the club, in collaboration with IOM Ghana, has organised events in three Islamic schools in Accra to raise awareness on the dangers of irregular migration and more than 600 students attended the events.
“We are not relenting on our efforts but will continue to champion the safe migration campaign. We want as many people as possible to know the risks involved so they will use safer and dignified options,” said Sofiyya.
In order to engage more students in awareness raising events across the country, five more student-led clubs have been established in Senior High Schools in Ghana’s Brong Ahafo and Ashanti regions.
Since the launch of the Club, the students have undertaken awareness raising activities in four schools within the Greater Accra municipality. They have started using other innovative ways to create awareness, such as drama and poetry:
I am worried sick I must confess
I wonder if they will have success
All the others tried in vain
And were never seen or heard again
But the demons are so deadly smart
They will stuff your heart and fill your brain
With petty thoughts and selfish dreams
And trap you in their nasty schemes
Beware of forces of cunning and treachery
And stay safe for self and country
For more information, please contact Collins Yeboah at IOM Ghana; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.