The Effect of Illegal Mining in my Community

Emmanuel — By Emmanuel from Ghana

Mining is the process of using machines to extract natural resources such as gold, diamond and bauxite from the ground. In my community, Tarkwa, in the western part of Ghana, mining is the most common work. Everywhere that you pass you will see people with shovel and basket looking for gold illegally.

In my community, you have to obtain a permit according to the laws of Ghana that allows you to mine but people whether they are ignorant or selfish have taken the decision to do mining illegally.

Illegal mining is digging for gold without permit and is against the law in my community and country.

As a result of this activity, the people of the community are paying heavily for the consequences of illegal mining.

Our water bodies have been polluted and therefore access to potable water for drinking or cooking are difficult to come by.

The fishermen in my community have been rendered jobless due to this illegal mining.

Properties have been destroyed​ as a result of these illegal mining activities.

Lands have been destroyed and people are forced to leave their houses because of flooding when it rains. This has also caused the spread of malaria.

Farms have been destroyed to be used for mining and this has brought reduction​ in the production of crops and vegetables in the community and a shortage of food in the community. People even go to the extent of trying to kill themselves​ for​ a plot of land. Buildings​ have been destroyed, stores have been closed down. Robbery has become​ common. People are afraid to go out for fear of being robbed.

A community which was once peaceful has become disorganized and destroyed as a result of this mining activity.

Mining is not bad when it is done in the right way by the right and qualified people. Mining is the process of extracting metals and minerals from earth legally with the permission of the authorities in the country. It becomes illegal when people do it without the right mechanism in place to protect the water bodies and reclaim the land for future use. Manganese, tantalum, cassiterite, copper, tin, nickel, bauxite (aluminum ore), iron ore, gold, silver, and diamonds are just some examples of what is mined here in Ghana.

The environmental impact of illegal mining includes erosion, the formation of sinkholes, loss of biodiversity and contamination of soil ground water by the chemicals from the mining process.

The chemicals used in the mining process often escape the large scale pollution. There is no doubt that illegal mining activities have caused a great harm to my community. This is because most of the minerals are found in rivers. As a result, the mining companies often resort to blasting of rivers and their surroundings​ to enable them access to the minerals. This is done without caring about the effects and dangers this will have on the animals, farms, trees and the people in the community,

Sometimes the activities of these illegal miners release toxic substances into the rivers, causing a lot of diseases like cholera to the people in the community, especially those who drink and fish from it.

Deforestation is part of the damage caused by the mining activities which involves the clearing of farms and trees to enable miners to extract their minerals.

These illegal miners do not put measures in place that will safeguard them from getting infections, with the fact that they are unskilled and also use unprotected tools and equipment.

There are high level of drugs and alcoholism, prostitution, armed robbery and sexual abuse in the community as a result of this illegal mining activities.

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My Journey to Begin Charity Work

— By Dorcas from Ghana

While growing up, I had the passion and determination to help the less privileged in the society. This passion gradually grew to become a dream where I had to achieve it even while in school. I had the passion and the interest to provide care and support to people especially to less privileged children and also to make impact in their lives. The challenges and the struggles that I went through, while embarking on a charity work as a journalist makes it more memorable and worth sharing with people.

Knowing very well that there would be no support from anywhere in terms of finances, I started making some little savings from my personal money that my parent gives to me while in school. While doing the savings, I had short discussions with friends to also support me with some old clothes and shoes or items and this is where my dream of providing care and support to orphans started. While in school, I established this organisation called NABA Foundation which had its main aim or mission to provide care and support to orphans, less privileged children as well as widows and promote health and education in rural communities. My vision was also to become the well-known non –governmental organisation in Africa and beyond that stands out to sorely provide Care and Support, Education and promote Health as well as researching to know the needs of Africans especially those in the rural communities.

After establishing, I began fulfilling the first core area that I have chosen that is providing care and support. I invited few friends and used the money I had to purchase some items that we donated to some families who were in deep poverty and residing in a deprived house in the surrounds of Accra. While conducting the donations, I observed that most people are in deep hardship which means they do not have enough financial support to cater for their family and some have travelled from their respective rural communities to the capital city of Ghana, Accra to search for jobs and end up on the street when they do not get any job.

This observation urged me to do more donations to those on the street and people who need either financial support or clothes or food to eat. The need came for me to contact several colleagues to set up a team in this foundation that will mobilize resources to be used for this donation and also support the research. The team was able to raise some funds among ourselves to make other bigger donations at Osu Children’s Home and conducted free health talk and donation at another orphanage in Dodowa, all in Ghana among others. We have been able to also register the foundation and currently have worked extra hard to attract the interest of some bigger musicians and celebrities both in USA and in Ghana to serve as ambassadors to promote our course including Education, health and care and support.

I have a personal principle that states that “There is no situation or action in life that is called challenge. So far as that situation urges you to think, re-think and provide a solution it, then it is no more a challenge but rather an exam”. I believe it is only during examination day that one has to think and re-thing to ensure the answer given is the best and will provide the best grade and so it applies to this principle. I have worked with this principle that I set up for myself for a long time and it has helped me both in academics and life goals. I had some many hard times while starting up this non-governmental organisation alone. Even though the conversations I had with few friends before starting were all emphasising on getting a huge amount of money before I can provide care or donate to the less privileged in the society especially while being in school. But I ignored those comment and started using my little savings to purchase items and share to people living on the street and to those who are in need.

Indeed, I was able to think and re-think to put certain strategies in place to overcome all those difficult times when setting up this organisation to provide support to less privileged children in the community. In view of my great leadership skills and setting up this organisation even while in school with no huge money, I received the Leadership and Excellence award sponsored by Databank Foundation in Ghana and was also announced the Overall Best Student in Journalism in 2014 at the African University College of Communications (AUCC). After the hardship, the foundation had been duly registered in Ghana as NABA LIFE FOUNDATION.

Tears from Lake Volta

theodora

— By Theodora from Ghana

As a fresh journalism graduate, I was enthusiastic about my future. I envisioned myself addressing thousands of crowds, hosting talk shows on national television and authoring bestselling books. This dream of mine was so real in my mind that I looked forward to seeing it in reality. Being the 5th child of 6 children and the only child who had successfully navigated through tertiary institution, it felt like heaven on earth. Ready to storm the media landscape, I was shocked at the news I received few months after completion from the citadel of communication – The Nigerian institute of journalism.

It was a sunny afternoon. I was on campus to check my name for national service postings as was the norm in Nigeria and surrounding African countries; National Service is a compulsory one year service to the nation upon completion of tertiary education. While I was seated in front of the Student Affairs officer, inquisitive about why my name was not on the board, I received distressing news that my name wasn’t inclusive since I’m a Ghanaian citizen. My heart sank like a ship sinking right in the middle of a deep sea. I had looked forward to serving in the northern part of Nigeria. I had planned to learn to speak Hausa – a northern language.

I couldn’t bear the pain of not experiencing the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) orientation camp. The three-week camp is aimed at preparing ‘corpers’, as they’re known, for the year-long scheme. Being a corper is a part of the Nigerian experience. It’s seen as the last stage of tertiary education, the final hurdle and the key to the world of employment. I took solace in an African Proverb from the Hausa Tribe which says that “However long the night, the dawn will break”. And just when the caterpillar thought life was over, it began to fly. All hope was not lost as I got the chance to serve in Ghana a year later in a foremost child rights organization. I served as a field support officer.

One cold morning at about 4:30. I set off with a team of field officers on a 14 hours journey to the popular lake Volta. Volta Lake is the largest reservoir in the world by surface area and a main destination for trafficking children; an estimated 7,000 – 10,000 child slaves work in the fishing industry.
After a 14 hours ride, we had to travel for another 2 hours on the Lake to Tomato Akura – the village where we hoped to rescue trafficked children. It was my first time travelling on water in a boat and I was the only female. Stephen, the field operation manager had made sure to coach me well about the mission prior to our take off so that I did just fine.

On arrival at Tomato Akura, everywhere was dark, no electricity. I had to use my phone light. There was no hotel to lodge. No internet connections. Our host family who lived in a tiny hut made from palm fronts willingly sacrificed their wooden bed for me. I was thrilled by the show of hospitality but I had to refuse since they had three children. I couldn’t let them lay on the bare floor while I lay on their bed. I spent the night at the lake side on the boat with the worst experience of discomfort I had ever been through. At dawn, I met Kwesi, a 6year old boy who had gotten up as early as 4am to start fishing. Kwesi, along with his master and other children, would toil the lake from 4am till 3pm. Kwesi was unclothed on that chilly lake where I, at 25 years old, struggled to sleep even with quilts and blankets. He ate garri and smoked fish once a day and the same meal every day of the week.

I had to refrain from crying. The look on his face, his skinny and malnourished body, his innocent and pure countenance, the cold and freezing mornings he worked all day and the silent cry I heard in his voice as I spoke to him were moments that turned my life around. Kwesi is one out of many children who had been trafficked to engage in hazardous child labor. His face particularly left a scar in my heart. Just then, I realized just how lucky I am even though I had always thought other kids who lived with their parents had better care and opportunities than me. Prior to my experience with Kwesi, I thought the worst thing that can happen to any child is to have his or her parents separated.

With indefinable resentment in my heart over my parent’s separation, my encounter with Kwesi thought me that no pain could compare with what a child slave had to go through without both his parents. Kwesi told me that his only dream was to go back home to his parents.