Every child has the right to grow up in a safe environment that provides opportunities for a decent future. It’s a fundamental value, self-determination. Unfortunately, thousands of children in Ghana are denied this basic principle of fairness. Instead, they are trafficked into fishing slavery.
Our Growing up Free program in Ghana, supported by your contributions, provides enslaved children with a chance to be children once again, by liberating them from brutal mistreatment on fishing boats and returning them to nurturing environments. Gabriel is one of our success stories.
At age 10, Gabriel was sent to live with his aunt and uncle after his mother fell seriously ill. However, soon after arriving, Gabriel’s uncle began to force him to work as part of the family fishing business. With little rest or nourishment, Gabriel was forced onto Lake Volta as early as 3:00 a.m. He was often ordered to dive underwater and untangle fishing nets. Then, after a full day’s work on the boat, Gabriel was forced to work on land, mending nets and hauling equipment. Gabriel was abused both physically and verbally at the smallest provocation. He recalls that “my master sometimes tied my hands and neck and beat me.” Gabriel and many others in child slavery feel trapped and robbed of their youth.
Gabriel and another boy decided to escape the abuse. When they arrived in a nearby village, a local leader alerted our Ghana partner organization, International Needs Ghana (INGH). At the INGH shelter, Gabriel was able to reclaim some of his lost youth, through schooling and psychological counseling.
Gabriel was reunited with his mother, and she has received livelihood support to grow her porridge business and support all her children. Gabriel was enrolled in an apprenticeship program to become a welder so that he can support his own family in the future.
Your contributions make success over slavery possible. Forgotten children are redefining their futures for themselves, reclaiming hope.
We hope that you will help us continue our vital work for the children of Ghana by making, renewing or increasing your annual contribution to Free the Slaves during our End-of-Year Universal Values Campaign.
Editor’s note: Gabriel’s story was reported in the field by International Needs Ghana, and wwitten for the FTS blog by Laurel Rush