Baptist Vocational Training Centre

All Round Vocational Training
The Baptist Vocational Training Centre was set up in 1998 with the aim of rehabilitating freed victims of the Trokosi practice.

Trokosi is an age-old cultural practice in the south-eastern part of the Volta Region and some part of the Dangme area of the Greater Accra Region of Ghana. With this practice, people, mostly girls are sent to some fetish shrines to atone for the crimes of their relations. Mysterious deaths in families are sometimes attributed to the wrath of the gods as a result of offences (ranging from petty thefts to murder) committed by a member of the family. It is believed that the only atonement acceptable to the gods is a member of the family being sent to the shrines to serve as a slave. The unfortunate victims who are mostly innocent of the crimes happen to be virgin girls. At the shrines, the girls are subjected to all sorts of human rights abuses and in most case become wives of the fetish priest at a very tender age.

Some individuals, including a Baptist Pastor of Adidome, initiated the fight against this obnoxious practice. But the lack of funds became a very big challenge.  Later on, Brother Evans Atiamoah, another Baptist Pastor took the challenge of addressing this Trokosi issue. He tried to involve the then District Chief Executive of North Tongu, Mr. Clarke and some government personalities and the Ghana Baptist Convention to help deal with the abuses associated with the Trokosi practice. Together with Rev. Wisdom Ameku, Brother Evans Atiamoah also tried to involve other NGOs like International Needs and Mission International. Unfortunately, Brother Evans Atiamoah passed away before any major headway could be made. The fight against the practice continued after his death. The Ghana Baptist Convention got the UK support Group involved. The Group sent two journalists to Ghana to investigate the practice. The Journalists later wrote articles in the international media which generated a lot of concern for the government.

As a result of this, human right activism against the practice heightened and it led the Parliament of Ghana to pass a bill in 1998 making the Trokosi practice illegal. The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) sensitized the fetish priests and Trokosi shrines to modify the Trokosi system by accepting other forms of reparation instead of human slaves for the atonement of crimes. This move yielded some results by causing some shrine owners and priests to release some of the girls. The release of the girls called for the need to rehabilitate and restore them into free society.  The Convention met this need by renting accommodation at Frankadua and transferred a vocational training centre started at Volu for the released girls. The training centre offered vocational skills in hairdressing, dressmaking, tailoring, kente weaving, and carpentry. Initial support for the centre came from the UK Support Group.

Image Courtesy of Rovaughna Richardson

The first graduation of the Centre was held on the 1st of June 2002. Ten ex- Trokosi girls passed out and each was given equipment in their chosen vocation as well as a start-up capital. In the course of time, the centre opened up to enable other less privileged girls from surrounding communities to have access to vocational training. By the grace of God, the Centre moved from the rented premises to its own site (a ten-acre land) in December 2010. The new site has an eighty-bed capacity dormitory block constructed by The American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts (TABCOM). The other facility on the land is a Kitchen and Dining Hall block built by the First Baptist Church, Midland, Michigan, USA. A twelve-classroom block which was started in 2011 is yet to be completed because of limited funds. When these classrooms are completed the centre would be able to admit more students and run additional vocational training programmes.

The Women’s Missionary Union of the Ghana Baptist Convention has supported the BVTC regularly with logistics and financial support.