So, when my cousin Stacey (you can find her at Field House Rock) asked if I'd be willing to participate in raising awareness of child trafficking in Ghana this Labor Day, I wasn't sure how to respond. The heaviest topic I've ever dealt with on my blog is the perils of potty training! But, when I discovered that their efforts included 99 other "mommy bloggers" just like myself, I knew this would be a great opportunity to share the work her and her husband are passionately involved in through their ministry, Mercy Project.
Until I began reading Stacey's blog a few years ago, I was unaware that there are presently an estimated 7,000 children, often as young as five years old, that are being forced into the fishing industry on Lake Volta in Ghana.
Zach will be turning five years old in a little over a month and besides having to clear his dishes from the table, pick up his toys, and make his bed, his main job includes, but is not limited to laughing, running, tackling his sisters, yelling, playing with legos, dressing up as a pirate, and building train tracks.
Zach never has to worry about staying awake long enough to work a fourteen-hour day, seven days a week. He isn't concerned whether or not he will have enough to eat each day or if there will be a place for him to sleep on a dirt floor amongst several other children when such a long day finally draws to a close. 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 these 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.
This is where Mercy Project comes in. Not only is Mercy Project seeking to free these slave children, but they take their approach one step further:
"Our methods are different, and they have been from the very beginning. We are seeking long-term, sustainable solutions that empower and equip the Ghanaians who use the children to work. We want to be creative and innovative in our economic development projects. We don’t just want to rescue a few kids, we want to remove the structures that cause these children to work like this in the first place. Our ultimate goal is to work ourselves out of a job."
~ Chris Field, Mercy Project Executive Director (http://mercyproject.net/our-story/)
This is an especially exciting month for Mercy Project as they are preparing to free their first round of children, one of whom will find his new home in Texas with Stacey, Chris and their two children.
To learn more about Mercy Project and what they are currently doing, I would encourage you to do the following:
- Watch this short informational video on the impact Mercy Project is having in Ghana: Mercy Project Documentary
- Follow Mercy Project on Facebook: Mercy Project Facebook Page
- Follow Mercy Project on Twitter: Mercy Project Twitter Feed
- Visit the Mercy Project Website: Mercy Project