HISTORY OF DREAM ON
Dream On (DO) was created from the merger of two nonprofit organizations — Orphans’ Heroes (OH) and Enslavement Prevention Alliance – West Africa (EPAWA). Both organizations have made significant advances in addressing human rights abuses, especially gender-based violence and human trafficking internationally with a particular focus on the West African sub-region. Since 2007, both organizations have amassed international and local recognition for their work.
A central focus of OH and EPAWA has been in raising awareness about human trafficking and child abuse by rescuing children, providing holistic rehabilitative care, facilitating legal cases on behalf of victims, and initiating training and community programs related to the prevention and eradication of human trafficking.
As individual entities, both organizations adopted a three-prong approach — prevention, protection, and prosecution. The preventative programs have consisted of a wide variety of efforts to reduce disease, educate children, initiate community health programs, and provide professional training. Prosecution of criminals is vital not only to achieve justice on behalf of the victims, but for governments to publicly condemn criminal acts and deter the abuse and trafficking of children and women.
Orphans’ Heroes and EPAWA partnered 5 years ago during a time when the Department of Social Welfare in Ghana was enacting the Child Care Reform Initiative, which included the closure of many children’s homes across Ghana. With ongoing efforts to rescue children from abuse and limited options for safe rehabilitative homes, OH and EPAWA founded a residential home in Accra, Ghana together.
While OH and EPAWA have their individual organizational successes, what they have always had in common is an unwavering dedication to human rights and the belief that every person has a right to be free to follow his or her dream. In fact, every child they have come into contact with — no matter how dire the circumstances — has held onto a dream. OH and EPAWA — now Dream On International — have given many children and women the freedom, opportunity and support to pursue their dreams.
Whether the dream is accessing clean water from a well, an opportunity to attend school, being freed from modern-day slavery, or achieving victory in the courtroom, the founders of Dream On International are empowering individuals and communities to rise above adversity and realize their dreams.
History of OH & EPAWA Successes
Over nine years, Orphan’s Heroes and EPAWA have undertaken a number of exciting projects that have changed lives, shaped communities, and forged partnerships with government officials, tribal elders, and other private NGOs. Below are highlights of some of the projects that speak of our former experiences that has culminated in our merger to become Dream On.
Enslavement Prevention Alliance – West Africa
- Participated in the investigation and rescue of 60 children from a child brothel “Soldier Bar.” This case exposed the issue of children being used for commercial sexual exploitation.
- Provided post-rescue care for 15 children in the North of Ghana, who were trafficked for begging and labor.
- Participated in the investigation and provided post-rescue care for Chinese victims of sex trafficking, including legal assistance. This was a precedent setting case that resulted in the longest conviction to date in Ghana: 41 years.
- Partnered with African Health Now, a US based NGO, to hold “Gift of Life at Christmas,” an annual event serving over 300 vulnerable women and children through medical care and education.
- Conducted “Our Voices, We Must be Heard” national advocacy campaign to educate and mobilize youth against human trafficking. This campaign resulted in publication of the book, I Say NO to Human Trafficking, which was written and illustrated by children and youth. This project is ongoing and has currently reached more than 6,000 children and youth nationwide.
- Launched a pilot SMS Helpline Network to respond to cases of human trafficking and gender-based violence in 21 communities in Ghana on August 29, 2011.
- Partnered with Orphans’ Heroes to rescue children from human trafficking and create a residential home for 8 teens rescued from abuse or slavery. Together, they currently care for children in the home, as well as an additional 35 children as part of the Rescue Program.
- Led the investigation on a gang rape case for a teen residing at the OH/EPAWA Residential Home. The victim won her case in 2014 and all four criminals have been incarcerated.
- Partnered with the Enslavement Prevention Alliance - West Africa to rescue children from human trafficking and create a residential home for 8 teens rescued from abuse or slavery. Together, they currently care for children in the home, as well as an additional 35 children as part of the Rescue Program.
- Partnered in the construction of a children’s home and two schools in the Volta Region of Ghana.
- Installed water pumps in the villages of Andokope, Segbedeme, and Kitikpa, Ghana, which brought clean water to over 4,800 people.
- Brought electricity to the village of Shihalia, Kenya and installed a water pump with a large above-ground tank that serves approximately 3,000 people.
- Purchased over 1,000 health cards for children in Ghana and provided educational instruction to parents in a community meeting regarding the importance of health care in the prevention of disease.
- Provided educational sponsorship for over 80 children in Ghana and Kenya through the Preventative Sponsorship Program.
- Organized a safe house in the Volta Region of Ghana for 6 girls who were victims of sexual abuse and witnesses for a criminal investigation.
- Provided witness relocation and protection in several regions of Ghana for children while investigations are conducted and cases are tried in a court of law.
- Initiated sex and health education classes in schools in Hohoe and Sogakofe, Ghana.
- Partnered with Grace Hand for Africa in Mbeya, Tanzania to create Grace Tailoring School and Grace Poultry Project. — income-generating projects that benefit 225 children who have been orphaned or were victims of trafficking.
- Purchased land in the village of Andokope, Ghana for an elementary and junior high school with faculty housing, library, and clinic. OH collaborated with world-renowned design firm ARUP and Ryerson University in Ontario, Canada to design an environmentally friendly school for 330 children.
- Installed electricity at Fodome Woe Elementary School.