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New Jersey Teacher Receives Martin Luther King Jr Award for Combating Child Trafficking in Ghana

By International Office of Migration (IOM)
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GENEVA, Switzerland, February 8, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- For nearly six years IOM Ghana has had an unlikely partner in the fight against child trafficking in the country's fishing industry.

As a high school social studies teacher in Metuchen, New Jersey, Evan Robbins seeks to raise awareness about developing countries and encourages his students to make a difference in the lives of others, even from a continent away.

During the course of the past six years Evan and his students at Metuchen High School have raised an astonishing USD 200,000 to support IOM's counter-trafficking programme in Ghana, including the rescue of 30 children and the construction of a school in Awate Tornu.

Since 2002, IOM, in partnership with NGOs and government agencies, has rescued, rehabilitated and reintegrated 731 children trafficked in the country's Lake Volta region.

In recognition of Evan's unique approach to educating students and raising awareness of child trafficking, the New Jersey Educators Association has now awarded him the Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights Award.

So what motivated this school teacher to take action six years ago? According to Evan it was a 2006 New York Times article on the plight of fishing children in Ghana. He compared the lives of his two young daughters with those kids in Ghana and knew that he needed to educate his friends, family and students about the issue.

When IOM's counter-trafficking programme was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2007, Evan presented this to his students as a potential class project. The students voted to conduct their first fundraiser for the children in Ghana in 2007 and they continue to take the lead in organizing events and assisting with Evan's non-profit organization Breaking The Chain Through Education (BTCTE) launched in 2011.

Evan says he enjoys working with IOM because the organization takes a project-based approach and he feels confident that the funding provided will get the maximum impact for counter-trafficking efforts. In 2013 BTCTE will provide funding for the construction of teacher's quarters at the Awate Tornu school as part of efforts to ensure the sustainable reintegration of rescued children and to enhance prevention activities.

He refers to his partnership with IOM in rescuing children an “amazing life experience” that he will continue to fundraise for because “no child should be owned and this needs to be stopped.”