Today, January 11th, is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Human trafficking and forced child labor have a long history in Ghana. During my visit to Ghana, one of the most vivid illustrations I saw of this history was when we visited Cape Coast Castle in Accra. When we arrived, I was in awe of the unique, beautiful architecture of the large white castle along the Gold Coast.
Cape Coast Castle
The wonder, unfortunately, became a bleak reality when our tour guide began to explain the masked horrific history. We stood in dark stone chambers that were about the size of a large modern American bedroom that housed about 250 slaves. There were four of these chambers, housing a total of 1,000 male slaves, and there was another chamber where up to 500 women were held. In each chamber, there was a trench in the middle of each room where the slaves would defecate and urinate that led to the ocean. There was a tiny, circular window that was about 30 feet up the wall for light and they would have to sleep standing. The shackled slaves would be led through the “door of no return” to the coast where they were led to fishing boats, generally owned by other slave drivers, and were forced to fish with little to no water or nutrition and in many cases would die.
Human Trafficking and Child Labor Lives On
Today, thousands of children, some as young as five years old, are still sold to work in the fishing industry or as domestic servants in the Lake Volta region of Ghana.
“Child labor is a serious problem in Ghana, where about one-third of children between the ages of seven and 14 work full-time. In the Lake Volta region, children as young as four are sent to live with relatives in hope of learning a trade. This cultural tradition has become distorted by many Ghanaian fishermen who pay parents US $50 per child, ostensibly to teach these children their trade.”
After learning of the need in Ghana, Pam and Randy Cope knew that Touch A Life needed to get involved. Recently, the Ghanaian government made moderate progressions in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor and Touch A Life is grateful to be partnering with the country of Ghana to support these efforts.
RESCUE, RENEW, RESTORE
Touch A Life’s vision is to Rescue, Renew, and Restore children who are suffering, exploited, and at-risk. In partnership with Ghanaian agencies, they have rescued over 100 children from slavery and built the Touch A Life Care Center, the only long-term rehabilitative care center in Ghana for formerly trafficked children. It is here that these former slave children can be renewed, receive an education, and have a chance at restoring and rehabilitating their lives.
We will never be able to truly understand the appreciation of being rescued that these children have, but we can see and feel the overwhelming joy that is instilled in them because they were rescued by Touch A Life.
Let’s END IT.