Guest Post by Mercy Project: working to end child slavery in Ghana
There’s an estimated 7,000 children who work in the Ghana fishing industry. Some of
these children are as young as 5 and 6 years old. All of these children are slaves.
Today many in our country will take a day off from our jobs to celebrate the social and economic achievements of American workers. No matter if we’re celebrating at home or at the beach, we’re entering into a tradition that has largely been shaped by Labor Unions – organizations that are dedicated to protecting workers’ interests and improving their wages, hours, and working conditions. As we lounge around or hang out with friends and family, we’re not only celebrating hard work, we’re honoring fair, ethical working practices and the laws that prevent discrimination, abuse, and child labor in our country. Without these
laws in place (and enforced), the most vulnerable members of society suffer. Who are the most vulnerable? Children.
This Labor Day as we’re celebrating the systems in our own country that strive to prevent injustices like child trafficking and child labor, we’re mindful of the many child slaves around the world who are unprotected and the organizations, like Mercy Project, who are working to free them.
As a mother, it’s difficult for me to imagine my children working 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. I’m unable to wrap my brain around the thought of my children engaged in long, hard days of physical labor, eating one meal a day, and then falling asleep at night on a dirt floor filled with other slave children. Yet this is the daily reality for kids who have been trafficked into the fishing industry in Ghana, Africa. As with much of Africa, there is a great deal of poverty in Ghana. Unfortunately, this leaves many mothers in an unimaginable position: sell their children to someone who can take better care of them or watch them starve to death. Most of the mothers are told their children will be given food, housing, and an education. Instead, the kids are often taken to Lake Volta where they become child slaves and their mothers never see them again. Thankfully, Mercy Project is working to break the cycles of trafficking around Lake Volta by providing alternate, more efficient, sustainable, fishing methods for villagers – ultimately eliminating the need for child slaves. Because of the work Mercy Project is doing in Ghana, the first group of children will be freed this month from Lake Volta.
Please watch this moving, 10 minute documentary about the issues surrounding child labor and trafficking in Ghana and most importantly the hope Mercy Project is bringing to children and entire communities in Africa. Mercy Project is the only NGO working on Lake Volta addressing the injustice of child labor and child trafficking at its root – by strengthening the Ghanaian economy and eliminating the structures that cause the demand for trafficked children.
Whether these ideas of child labor, child trafficking, and modern-day slavery are new to you or you’re aware of these injustices, but need to hear some good news every once in awhile, we invite you to become a part of what Mercy Project is doing in Ghana. When Mercy Project frees their first group of children this month, we can all celebrate together.
Want to learn more or find out ways to get involved in the project?
• Watching Mercy Project’s short documentary (shown above).
• Following Mercy Project on Facebook.
• Connecting with Mercy Project via Twitter.
• Spending some time on Mercy Project’s website.
• Sharing about Mercy Project’s work in Ghana with your friends.
Although child trafficking, child labor, and the unstable economies that result in these injustices are a tragedy, we’re grateful for what Mercy Project is doing to protect the vulnerable and for allowing us to be a part of this story. While we’re commemorating labor laws and ethical work in our own country today, we invite you to follow along on this journey with Mercy Project to protect and free children in Ghana.
“When the lives and the rights of children are at stake, there must be no silent witnesses.”–Carol Bellamy