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March 12th, 2010
12:39 PM ET

Journey for Change: Day five in Ghana

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.

A child slave with his owner. Photo credit: Benjamin Goode

A child slave with his owner. Photo credit: Benjamin Goode

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.

Joshua Hall, Age 13
Journey for Change

Today was our last day on Lake Volta. With high hopes of rescuing more child slaves, I woke up extra early and was ready to go at 5:30am. I even skipped breakfast because I was so enthused about rescuing trafficked children. While on the water, we spotted three boats holding child slaves. One of the boats in particular looked to be about nine years old. He looked sickly, sad and malnourished. We gave him a big piece of bread and some water. I was delighted to see the smile it brought to his face. But when the slave masters, who were in different boats, saw us, they paddled away quickly. I believe they did so in fear that we would be able to negotiate the rescue of the children. This frustrated me to know that they would act so cowardly.

We arrived at our destination, La La Island. We knew there were trafficked children on the island so we went to negotiate with the masters who stay back while the boys work the lake. The Chief of the island, who once was a slave master, is now helping Touch a Life Ghana to end the practice of slavery on the island. After negotiating with several masters to no avail, we spotted the master of one of the boys we saw earlier on the lake. I was in disbelief to see him exiting out of the church with a church polo shirt which stated he was a part of the youth fellowship. The thing that bothered me most was that the slave master claimed that he was fasting and praying to God for blessings out on the lake, while he let the children working for him starve! I was angry because he had the means to feed them, but chose not to.

Sydney Smart Blog, Age 13
Journey for Change

Being on this journey to serve and observe child trafficking has been a moving experience for my fellow Ambassadors and I. Waking up early, meeting the masters and watching children clear the nets really helped me visualize how cruel the practice is. Many times when I see a child, I zone out to put myself in their shoes. The words never again go through my head repeatedly. I try not to get myself hooked on the horrible label described on these children, but to focus on making them smile and have a great time with them. But obviously it’s hard when you see them in boat and can’t rescue them because their masters are so stubborn.

As we go to the island La La, just like previous ones, the masters don’t give thought to what they are doing to these children lives. They think these children are minor to the world. In my head I go wild “Well hello these children are the future and you are putting the world in jeopardy, yourself forbidding them to go to school. You are even putting your children in danger. Get a life and give these children one too!” Often I have to set the facts straight when we have a meeting with the community. This morning I advocated that they are doing the same exact epidemic as 500 years ago with the slave trade. Our ancestors were slaves, bought by strangers, sent across the ocean, forced to work, beaten and mistreated. These children are bought by strangers, sent across Lake Volta, forced to work, beaten and mistreated. Do you see a resemblance? The Ghanaian community agrees they want their country to be known for love and companionship. But I don’t know what’s stuck in their head to not accomplish it and let these kids be free. I could argue all night just to free these children so that I can get them away from these sick people.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Ghana • Journey for Change
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