Target: President of Ghana John Mahama
Goal: Don’t allow children to work in gold mines, and provide aid to their families to supplement their income.
There are currently over 10,000 child miners working in the gold mines of Ghana, with many as young as 12. The conditions are extremely dangerous, with collapses routinely killing dozens of miners. In addition to the risk of mine collapses, children working in the mines are routinely exposed to toxic mercury, used in the treatment of the gold, causing mercury poisoning that can be deadly as the children mature. It is the responsibility of the government of Ghana to ensure both that mines are appropriately regulated so that children are not working in them, and that families whose income was such that the children needed to work in the mines are appropriately compensated.
Under Ghanaian law, working in mines is explicitly prohibited for anyone under the age of 18. However, many families are forced by their poverty to send their children to the mines, where mine owners can force them to do dangerous jobs for minimal pay, and often, because they work illegally, without concern for their possible death or injury. The solution to this problem then is not just to better police mines, but also to offer financial assistance to families in need, so that these children may be both safe and have a livable quality of life.
The process of ending child labor in a nation is always extremely gradual and often times agonizingly slow; however, Ghana is currently in a position to do so. The Ghanaian government has already taken the first step by outlawing child labor. Now it is up to them to enforce this law while eliminating the need for it.
In light of the recent accident in a Ghanian gold mine where at least one underage miner was killed, it has become apparent that the gold mines of Ghana require better policing so that children are no longer put at risk. However, child labor will never truly be stamped out until the families who need it to survive are provided aid by the government. As such, it is the duty of the Ghanaian to both take steps to better regulate the gold mines while simultaneously providing financial aid to families who need it.
Every year over 10,000 child miners are put at risk of mine collapse or mercury poisoning–particularly deadly to children–while working in the gold mines. These children should not be made to work in such conditions, but with the aid of the Ghanaian government and international aid organizations, it does not have to be so.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Helen Wilkinson Via Wikimedia Commons