Editor's Note: Students from Brooklyn, N.Y. are traveling to Ghana as Global Service Ambassadors as part of a trans-Atlantic youth service and advocacy summit, bringing together African-American youth and Ghanaian child labor trafficking survivors. The project is called Journey for Change: Empowering Youth Through Global Service and is in partnership with the Touch A Life Foundation. The Ambassadors will advocate for the eradication of child slavery when they return and they will visit Capitol Hill and the United Nations as part of their efforts. Read their blogs from the trip below.
Jasmine Figueroa, Age 15
Journey for Change
Before I went on the trip to Ghana, I visualized and thought of what the food was going to taste like and how Ghanaian people live. Now that I have experienced the culture, I think that the Ghanaian people have a lot of pride in their homes. They take good care of them no matter how poor they might be. When I first met my Ghanaian partner, who is a former child slave, I thought she was very beautiful with a big smile on her face. She is 13 years old and I knew we were going to have a loving and beautiful relationship toward each other. I began to talk to her and she was very polite and outgoing. She told me about when she was a slave and told me all of the things that she had to do when she worked. She had to get the nets for the fishing boots, cook for the fisherman and his family, and clean the fish. She slept outside on rocks or on the hard ground or with the animals. And she was treated like an animal too. I shared a little about my life too. I told her that in my life I have problems at home and in my life and she was shocked. She thought everyone and everything in America was perfect. But when I heard about her life as a slave, it was sometimes too hard to bear and to hear. There were a lot of tears, but also a lot of laughs.
My experience in Ghana was sad, happy, and emotional. I liked the entire trip, but the part that meant the most to me was being on the Lake Volta meeting the trafficked kids either on the islands or rowing to the sides of their boats. It just tore me apart when I first started to experience the reality of child slavery. The kids were as young as 2 years old that were sold into slavery and forced to work the waters of Lake Volta. And the slave’s masters, who were fisherman, did not care about them at all. Some of the children only ate once a day and did not have proper places to sleep. They were tied to trees and beat if they did anything wrong.
Editor's Note: Students from Brooklyn, N.Y. are traveling to Ghana as Global Service Ambassadors as part of a trans-Atlantic youth service and advocacy summit, bringing together African-American youth and Ghanaian child labor trafficking survivors. The project is called Journey for Change: Empowering Youth Through Global Service and is in partnership with the Touch A Life Foundation. The Ambassadors will advocate for the eradication of child slavery when they return and they will visit Capitol Hill and the United Nations as part of their efforts. Read their poetry, writing, and songs from the trip below.
Bloom like a rose/Early in the morning sun/Act like a lion.
Sydney Smart, 13 years old
You were once a slave/Now you are free in God’s hands/No more suffering.
Jasmine Figueroa, 15 years old
Your wings were tied now/they’re free so spread them and fly/Now you’re free, free, free.
Benjamin Hall, 16 years old
Be thankful for all that you may receive.
Don’t complain no matter what you do.
People go through things you wouldn’t believe.
So just look to God, he’ll see you through.
I am hurt, my siblings had to be brave.
Experiencing most of life as a child slave.
Day and night they worked hard and toiled though stressed.
I’m happy, they’re free and they are blessed.
My eyes have been opened to see such hate.
We cannot let this stand, we must advocate.
This has been a journey of love, strength and will.
To make a change from captivity to Capitol Hill.
Joshua Hall, 16 years old
Benjamin Goode, Age 13
Journey for Change
The Paramount Chief of the Krachi region invited Journey for Change and Touch A Life to his palace to eat and be showed a nice dance. There we ate deep, fried chicken, potato salad, and rice. After and before dinner we were showed a nice, smooth, and pop like African dance. The dance was amazing and the dancers were dressed in the Ghana flag colors. The dancer’s kind of added hip hop to their dance by the way they popped their shoulders and hips. After I was invited to stay at the palace along with my chaperone Sergo. It was very fun and we had our own room service. The bedroom was big and had its own bathroom.
We also had a Mitsubishi air conditioner and a small refrigerator in the room. The air conditioner was nice because I have been living without one since coming to Kete Krachi. Every place else only has fans and it is so hot in Ghana. After freshening up, Sergo and I went back to Village of Life and waited for our friends to come back from Lake Volta. After they came back we all talked about the day on the lake. We are now blowing up water balloons because we are going to have a water balloon fight with the rescued child slaves. We are also going to blow bubbles with them and have bike races. Oh, and show them how to double dutch. We are showing them American games and they will show us what they do in Ghana to play.
Benjamin Goode, Age 13
Journey For Change
Today was day 4 and it was better than all of my other days in Ghana because we got to travel over Lake Volta and free two child slaves.
When we first arrived at the Lake, I was surprised because I thought the lake would be much smaller than it was. Just to see the people at the shore of the lake was sad because kids had no clothes and the adults were very poor. They were trying to sell things as we waited to leave on the boat.
After riding for a while, we came up to a boat that had three child slaves – one boy who was about 5 and two teenagers. I thought it would be easy to free that little child but it was not. It made me mad to see the slave master smiling and laughing about the situation because it really wasn’t funny. I thought he was taken us for a joke. To see the little boy clamp on to his slave master made me realize that the master has him brainwashed which also made me mad. Also, he tried to get away with owning him by hiding the little boy under the bow of the boat. And when the little boy finally came up, he lied and said it was his son. But you can tell it was not his son, because he was in rags.
When we had to leave him, I was angry because the little boy had the right to freedom, an education, proper nutrition and I did not want to leave him.
Today was day three and we had to get up earlier than yesterday.
Today Joshua (fellow Journey for Change member) and I woke up at 4:55 AM. When we got up I was weak and tired, but after splashing hot water on my body and my face, it all went away.
After being told we had to be downstairs the previous night at 6:15 AM, Joshua and I had an hour and a half to spare. Once it was time to get our day started, the Journey for Change and Touch A Life participants loaded onto the buses and headed out.
Editor's Note: Students from Brooklyn, N.Y. are traveling to Ghana as Global Service Ambassadors as part of a trans-Atlantic youth service and advocacy summit, bringing together African-American youth and Ghanaian child labor trafficking survivors. The project is called Journey for Change: Empowering Youth Through Global Service and is in partnership with the Touch A Life Foundation. The Ambassadors will advocate for the eradication of child slavery when they return and they will visit Capitol Hill and the United Nations as part of their efforts. Read their poetry below.
Journey for Change
Did my ancestors have to endure such inhuman circumstances from an alien?
Being righteous and open to newcomers resulted in lashes, blood and death.
Why was I ripped from my culture, heritage and chances of knowing where my origins are from?
13 years of bareness
Carrying nothing on my back to share with my loved ones.
Was it really necessary?
Our ancestors want us know that they are thinking of us
They want us to retrace our ancestry.
– Sydney Smart, 13-years-old
There is sadness that fills my
body when I am told you have been beat.
I get on my feet sadness overflowed
with anger now I am furious, thinking
of that whip slapped to your skin
and through to your flesh, I can
hear you yelling, makes me feel
uncomfortable, but guess what
help is on the way, you feel it in your
gut, guess who it is, your knight
in shining armor, can you see,
- Benjamin Goode, 13-years-old
Enslaved Women and The Governor’s Wives—Why?
Why did I come here?
Why did we walk for two months or more
To get but one foot in this place—
Worn out clothes
Uncomfortable state of the mind
Creating a year long lasting stench
Battered, beaten and bleeding
Shackled for a punishment
Washed to be disrespected by the Governor
Pain of lost family, faith, confidence and love for self
Loss of feeling and words
Did that white man lose his heart and all of his soul?
He lost his God loving mind
Do you know that these girls
Felt used, abused, labored?
So many left to die.
Enslaved woman whom I am addressing this to
The Governor’s African wives and the corrupted minds
Of the voices who still whisper, sing and dance
Through the movement of our precious waters
For here in Africa across the Atlantic and back
Creating triangles which these men had to pay for
On their way in the hottest place in the Bible
The deep depths of hell where he may be a slave
Now it is your turn to pay
Be laughed at and embarrassed
Us women speak and the Governor is to be no more.
- Latoya Massie, 16-years-old
El Mina Castle
To learn more on the life of a slave.
To imagine 50-100 people locked in a small, dark cell.
To feel the overpowering heat.
You can’t move and can barely breathe.
To think of the torture our ancestors endured.
Some things you can’t conceive.
To smell the terrible stench of death and those dying of disease
And the person who urinates on himself for there is no restroom
To go to if you please.
Some are terrified.
Some choose to be brave.
Some rebel and dig themselves an early grave.
They are beaten and battered if they misbehave.
And that is but a snippet in the life of a slave.
– Joshua Hall, 16-years-old
My people had to shed blood
Unfairly. Getting whipped angry but still standing tall.
Lost a lot of flesh. Getting brutally whipped angry.
But my people are still standing strong. You my love one
that I lost but never forgotten.
I came to rescue our relationship
and share it with others.
- Jasmine Figueroa, 15-years-old
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