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© Natsuki Yasuda/ Dialogue for People



We believe that eliminating child labour long-term requires addressing every level of our global supply chain and getting everyone to play their role. As such, we operate through international cooperation, supporting rural communities at the source, collaborating with corporations, and providing consumer education.

Our mission is to protect the rights of children and youth but our impact extends beyond the Sustainable Development Goal 8.7. 


Take a look at an overview of our results so far. 







sucess stories



Laxmi attended our vocational center, co-operated by our local NGO partners SPEED, as part of our PEACE India Project.

Laxmi, 15 years old

© Natsuki Yasuda/ Dialogue for People


Citti attended our vocational center, co-operated by our local NGO partners SPEED, as part of our PEACE India Project.

Citti, 19 years old

© Natsuki Yasuda/ Dialogue for People

- Telangana State, India

Laxmi's storyline: Cotton field → bridge school → girls'  school (public boarding school outside the village)


Laxmi had never attended public school before. 

"The staff would come to my home every day to persuade my parents to send us to school. The sun was hard when I was working. I also had a stomachache. I was hospitalised for 7 days when I was 11 years old [the effects of pesticides]. My brother was going to school, but I didn't want to go because I didn't think girls went to school. I had no idea that I could go to school until the staff came. But now I can say that I probably had wanted to go. Now girls in the village can go to school.” 

“After I finished my time at the bridge school, I transferred to a girls’ school located outside my village. I was chosen to give a speech there, which I prepared for at the library.  I also 

persuaded some school mates not to quit school and was able to convince two girls to stay on.  Girls are not allowed to go out [of the village] to see their friends. I miss my friends during the holidays. Boys are free, so they can meet up with friends wherever they are. It is not fair. But going to a school outside the village is great because I can have friends without worrying too much about our caste differences." 


Laxmi's grandmother: "I used to have no intention of sending girls to school, so without the project my three year old grand-daughter was also one day going to be sent to work in the fields. Now  I will send her to school." 

Jitu attended our bridge school, co-operated by our local NGO partners SPEED, as part of our PEACE India Project.

Jitu, 10 years old

© Natsuki Yasuda/ Dialogue for People

- Telangana State, India

Jitu's storyline: Dropped out in the 2nd grade when his father left the family (6- 7 years old) → cotton field → bridge school for 1 year → Public school (present)

"I was suffering from heat and headaches when I was working in a cotton field. When I stopped working I wanted to be a doctor who consults for free to help the villagers. I had no dreams when I was working. I need knowledge to be a good doctor so I study."

His sister stayed at home then enrolled in a Bridge School (current) and his mother received income improvement support from ACE and operates a small store.

Jitu's sister: "I want to be a police officer because I want to catch bad people."

Venkatesh attended our bridge school, co-operated by our local NGO partners SPEED, as part of our PEACE India Project.

Venkatesh, 14 years old

© Natsuki Yasuda/ Dialogue for People

- Telangana State, India

Venkatesh's storyline: Cotton fields → bridge school → dormitory school 

Venkatesh's father died when he was still young. He is one of 5 neighbourhood children: Mahesh (14) Shiva (14), Charan (12), Rahul (12) and Venkatesh Naiku (20)

"In our village, more children worked than children who went to school. But now more children go to school. The staff and CRPF (Child Rights Protection Forum) talked to my mother so many times so that I could go to bridge school. I want to help children go to school when I grow up in the future."

John attended our bridge school, co-operated by our local NGO partner CRADA, as part of our SMILE Ghana Project.

14 years old
14 years old

- Bron-Asafo region, Ghana

John's storyline: Child labour → bridge school → school 


John  moved to this area with his family from northern Ghana in 2018, however rather than going to school he immediately began working in the cacao fields. He dropped out in his third year of elementary school, and has never been to school since. His parents had never been to school before, and told us how they "didn't know what school was." Later on, members of the village's Child Protection Committee persuaded his parents to send him to school, and John returned to the fifth grade class.


"Going to school every day is fun and my favourite subject is maths." John says that he wants to be a banker in the future, and now his parents have come to be very proud of that. 

godfried grade5.JPG

Godfred attended our bridge school, co-operated by our local NGO partner CRADA, as part of our SMILE Ghana Project.

20 years old

We met Godfred all the way back in 2008 when SMILE Ghana started operating in his village, Kwabena Akwa, Ghana.

This is his story!

Entry from 2010

"My name is Godfred Otti. I am the eldest son of three, I have one brother and one sister. I am from a village in Atuma Mnpnuya County, Ashanti. I was born in 1995. My family are cacao farmers. My father died when I was 7. That is why a couple years later, when I turned 9, I started to work in the cacao fields. I was enrolled in school at that time, but I skipped a lot of school as I couldn’t afford the school textbooks and other supplies and so I did not enjoy school. My mum was poor and couldn’t read or write, and I felt so guilty that she worked all by herself to look after me and my brother and sister. My siblings were not going to school either. After a while, I went to live with my grandparents who adopted me, thinking that I would be able to go to school, however things turned out to be even worse there and I ended up having to work on their farm and other farms to afford to go to school again."


Entry from 2012: Godfred goes on to high school to pursue his dream to become a doctor

Following his trip to Japan in 2010, Godfred is studying hard and putting all his efforts into catching up for the time he lost to child labour. “I grew up seeing so many lives lost because there wasn’t a hospital in the village and medical treatment was delayed. That is why I want to become a doctor and help people in these villages”. With this in mind, he graduated junior school and went onto high school. While typically in Ghana you have to pass an examination to enter high school, Godfred achieved the highest final year school examination score in his district so he received a  scholarship from the Ghanaian government and was able to get in immediately. He has been studying hard ever since. 


Entry from 2016: Godred gets into medical university

We received news in August 2016 that Godfred’s dream was finally about to come to fruition when he got a place at a medical university. His message read, "at long last I am in school!". "Please say thank you to everyone!”


He saved for over 2 years, and although there were still a few things he needed to buy before school started, he was going to manage. We were able to speak with him and his friend Evan (another boy from the village who had been withdrawn from child labour and became friends with Godfred at the Child Dignity CLub), to celebrate the wonderful news!

"Working on a cacao farm is back-breaking. You have to wake up earlier than everyone, at 5 a.m. to go to the farm and collect the cacao pods, carry loads from the farm to the house. The adults would arrive a lot later, around 10am and leave earlier than me. I could not eat breakfast, so I would be really hungry and end up eating the cacao fruits to fill me up. Carrying the big loads on my head would leave me in pain from head to toe. Sometimes you would trip on the road back and sprain or break your ankle. In this areas there are also poisonous snakes and scorpions, so there are a few people who have died along the road. So the work was tough and dangerous.

However, I did not really have a choice if I wanted to support my family. Even if I got sick I had to work because otherwise I would not get fed, or be forced to sleep outside. I couldn’t tell anyone if I was tired or wanted to rest, and I would see other children going to school and feel so sad that I couldn’t go because I had to work. 

After ACE launched the SMILE Ghana project in our area things really began to change, especially what parents and the people thought about education and child labour. Parents should send children to school, not work. My grandparents started to changed their thinking and I ended up going to school everyday.

The SMILE project set up Child Dignity Clubs where we could talk about issues and decide on various things ourselves. At the club we learnt about children's rights and what is important to us and how to demand our rights. For example, at our school we did not have any walls which meant that when it was raining our classes were interrupted. We asked for a wall and now we can study all the time.

We are so happy that the SMILE project came to our village and that  now there are no children doing child labour in our village. Now that I am back at school.  In the last final exam, I was top in my year. Now I love going to school. 

My dream is to become a doctor. Since I was a child I saw so many problems in my village; the cacao farms are very rural so I saw people who got bitten my poisonous snakes and scorpions and died on the way to the nearest hospital, or women who died in childbirth. That is why I thought I should become a doctor so I can help these people."

- Telangana State, India


Citti's storyline: Dropped out in 7th grade →  cotton field → vocational training center → marriage & work as a tailor


"When I was working, I had no breaks and worked every day. You can rest only when you have a fever or have a headache. Other than that, there are no holidays. The vocational center was in its third term, I wanted to go before the start of the second but my parents wouldn't allow it. They said it was impossible because we had no money. Immediately after my parents made me drop out of school, my school friends visited my home and tried persuading my parents. But my parents turned them away, saying, "If this child doesn't work, we can't feed her." I was very sad."

"I was glad that I was able to go to the vocational training center and there were many girls of the same age, and it seemed that I was able to go back to school. I taught a school mate who was not good at studying because I had been to school before. [Recently] I got married and moved to another village. Right now I am back with my family whilst I recover from some health issues but I will return to my husband's village once I am better with my sewing machine from the Vocational Training Center. My husband and his family also support my work as a tailor."

Citti's father was a debt worker since he was a child. Her elder brother (30) and sister (25) did not attend school, her younger brother (16) is in the 10th grade. 

Renuka attended our vocational center, co-operated by our local NGO partners SPEED, as part of our PEACE India Project.

Renuka, 10 years old

© Natsuki Yasuda/ Dialogue for People

- Telangana State, India

Renuka's storyline: Dropped out in 3rd grade →  Bridge School

Her younger brother→ Bridge School (present)

Older brother: dropped out in grade 5 (village school up to grade 5) → work in field → NRBC → Gadwar hostel school

"My parents were migrant workers to Hyderabad, and I used to go to my migrant destination with my parents." Renuka wants to be a teacher like Vijerakshmi (project staff) at Bridge School. Her brother also wants to be a teacher to encourage children who work like him to come to school. Only Renuka and her brother  can read and write in the family.

 Income improvement support was provided to the family and the project ensured that the grandparents take care of the children so that the family can stay in the village for a long time, and the children can continue attending the bridge school (followed by public school). Renuka and her brother taught their grandparents to write their own signatures.

Venkatesh attended our bridge school, co-operated by our local NGO partners SPEED, as part of our PEACE India Project.

15 years old

- Telangana State, India


Swarupa had been told to drop out of school when she was in fifth grade of elementary school and started working in the cotton fields. The staff talked with her parents and whilst they agreed to withdraw Swarupa from work, by then she was too old for compulsory education (under 14 years), and so re-entering school was difficult and expensive. Instead she had to go to the vocational training centre operated by the project. 


"I'm glad I can study with my friends again!"


Swarpa's mother: "Once Swarupa started going to the centre we saw how much she enjoyed it, and realised that it was much better for children not to work. Recently, if my husband sees children working he introduces the centre to their parents and persuades them to not make their children work. ”

Staff members have also been working with these families to persuade them to let their children go to the centre, yet they do not always get their consent and it will take a little more time to convince them. "It's not going to be easy because I know that each family has a different situation. But I'm going to continue talking to them and never give up." Swarupa’s parents, who had previously made her work, seemed to have been impacted by their daughters change.


Janet attended our bridge school, co-operated by our local NGO partner CRADA, as part of our SMILE Ghana Project.

14 years old

- Bron-Asafo region, Ghana

In 2013, Janet, who was 13 at the time, had been sent to work on a farm in a village where SMILE Ghana was already underway. The farm was run by Kwak Nyame. 


Janet was sent to work on the farm to help pay for her sick mother's medical bills. Her parents told her that she should go work on the farm instead of going to school. Janet was from a northern region of Ghana where this is no big industry and so was an even poorer area than the cacao-farming areas of the south. That is why a lot of parent take their children to work on the farms, and there were also cases where parents would just send their children to another region if the children were sent back from farms.

However, when Nyame received Janet he decided to let her go to school rather than making her work on the farm. Nyame told us that his view on child labour began to change gradually after SMILE Ghana started in his village. He had initially thought he would send her back to her village but understood that it was likely she would just be sent somewhere else.  Instead, he sent her to school and provided a portion of the profits of the farm to send back to her mother. 

To solve the root cause of child labour in these communities, it is as much about changing the consciousness of people regarding child labour and education as much as withdrawing them.



555 children withdrawn from child labour from 10 communities

13,000 children benefited from improved school facilities and supplies

1500 households gained at least a 25% increase in income following training on financial management and increased cacao yield 

SMILE GHANA Community Project


We currently collaborate with 21 corporations and incorporated 80 products into our various campaigns 


with Companies

We hold nationwide events and created several original books and educational materials to educate consumers about where their products are coming from.

Educating Consumers

Collaborated with the Ghanian government to create the Protocols and Guidelines for the Child Labour Free Zone System

Child Labour Free Zones 



We have withdrawn 1069 children from child labour in the cotton production areas of Telangana State, India

PEACE India Community Project

We have trained over 300 villagers in our Farmer Business Training to enhance their yield and create a safer working environment.


We have supported over 250 households to improve their incomes through micro-financing and financial management training.


We have mobilized over 90 local villagers as members of Children's Rights Protection Forums  to independently

monitor child labour in their communities.




- Yoko Nakajima, CSR Group Manager Corporate Communications, Morinaga & Co., LTD.


“We respect and sympathize with ACE’s passionate mission and their tenacious efforts to "protect the children of the world from child labor and give them a reason to smile". We feel that education is a key element for empowering children and giving them the confidence to open their futures.
We will continue to work with ACE, along with our customers, whose purchases of chocolate through the "1 smile for 1 chocolate" campaign donates 1 yen from the purchase of target products, so that happiness can come to all - not only the people who eat chocolate, but everyone else, including the children who live in cacao producing countries.”  


© Natsuki Yasuda/ Dialogue for People


- G.S Ravi Prakash, President of SPEED (Society for People's Economic & Education Development)


“We are very honoured to be associated with ACE. Our organisation has been associated with ACE since 2010. Over the years, together we have implemented several projects benefiting low-income families and adolescent. Many people have benefited immensely from ACE projects, and there is a profound sense of gratitude to ACE and its staff for their commitment and sponsorship. ACE and its staff are like family to our organisation. Their guidance and mentoring has been instrumental in the successful implementation of projects and the achievement of project goals.”  


© Natsuki Yasuda/ Dialogue for People


- Nana Antwi Boasiako Brempong, Executive Secretary CRADA (Child Research for Action and Development Agency)


“It has always been a privilege and honor to work with ACE for the past 8 years since our partnership to eliminate Child labour in the cocoa growing communities began. My experience with ACE has been quite impressive and full of learning process and innovations all through the past years. ACE has always been a worthy partner in the fight against Child Labour in the Ghanaian community. ACE-Japan has provided us a new paradigm shift on how to manage projects, produce better reports and share experiences or best practices with stakeholders.”  




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