In the east of Ghana lies Lake Volta, the world's largest man-made lake. At a glance it is a beautiful lake, but it contains an ugly and shocking truth.
Going to the lake you will see hundreds of children working: peddling, bailing water, fishing, diving in to disentangle fishing nets. They are sold or given away by their families, brought into a strange and often hostile environment, exposed to dangerous and unhealthy situations. Often these kids are sold into slavery with the promise of food, education and a better life. The children, sometimes as young as 4 years old, are at the mercy of a master (fisherman) who treats them as cheap laborers who can be mistreated. Because the child has little value to his master, there is no necessity to cloth or feed them properly. They have no access to health care or education and work for very long hours which at times is very dangerous. Many child slaves witness the death of others, who are sometimes their friends. The enslaved children endure frequent beatings, 16 hour work days, little to no shelter and food. The conditions of the lake that they are forced to work in include parasites, crocodiles, electric eels.... Many of the children that are forced to dive into the water are injured by tree stumps and many do not resurface, drowning while untangling the nets. If they cry or refuse to dive into the water, they are beaten with an oar.
Poverty, ignorance and lack of education can be seen as the three most important reasons why child labor and child trafficking in Ghana exists.
Being on the lake, the team simply approach canoes and try to communicate with the master and his child slaves; trying to build some kind of a relationship and educate them about the law that forbids child labor. When a fisherman, after some time of negotiation, is willing to give up his slaves, we take the children with us. The next step is to trace the family and to make sure the child will be safe and taken care of. Although the first instinct is to go in and take the children by force, it only continues the pattern. The next day the master will have new slaves and hide them, so we cannot trace them anymore. With the approach that PACODEP takes, we at least know where the children are and we can continue our dialogue to convince the fisherman to give up the children. In many cases the fishing masters were slaves as children. It's a vicious cycle that must be broken.
It is possible for you to join us in the fight against child labor and child trafficking in Ghana and around the globe. Global Rescue Project needs funds and volunteers to assist in the rescue missions and future of these children.
To give you an idea of what it takes to rescue and rehabilitate a child:
For $960 we can go on a rescue mission to rescue 1-5 children from Lake Volta. The costs include survey, boat transportation, fuel and other logistics, communication and coordination costs, registration and photographing the children.
For $1080 a rescued child can rehabilitate in the Village of Life for 3 months. This includes feeding, clothing, provision of socialize counseling services, care and support, medical screening and treatment, recreational activities, school supplies, education, utility bills for center.