The work wasn’t bad. It was so much worse. Fourteen-hour shifts. One meal a day. No education, no reprieve, no escape.
Godwin, Ebenezer and Bright Anyimornu endured these conditions for eight years when their mother couldn’t afford to take care of them and her husband refused to help raise them.
Traffickers target families like these in Ghana. In this case, they promised the mother the moon for her boys: schooling she could never afford to give them, apprenticeships that would lead to good paying jobs, and healthcare. But everything the traffickers said was a lie.
Godwin remembers the long days and dangerous conditions. Lake Volta storms frequently capsize rickety fishing boats and kill everyone on board. Many families never hear from their children again.
But these brothers eventually found a true friend, Assembly Member Oscar Dzisenu of the Devime electoral area. He is working with Free the Slaves and our Ghana partner organization to protect children from trafficking. He uses social functions such as PTA meetings, church gatherings and even funerals to educate community members about trafficking, its illegality, and the harm done to children.
That’s how Mr. Dzisenu met Goodwin, Ebenezer and Bright. He decided to pay their mother a visit and warned her of the legal implications of trafficking her children. When following up, Mr. Dzisenu found all three children back at home.
Free the Slaves implementing partner International Needs Ghana, together with the Ghana Department of Social Welfare and Community Development stepped in to send the boys to a shelter for comprehensive care. Goodwin was suffering from goiter.
“I am very sad that I now have goiter from my experience.” Godwin says. “When the symptoms began, I told my master but he ignored me. I am sure that if he had sent me to the hospital, my condition would not be this bad. If my mother had not sold me, I would not have suffered from goiter. Now I feel shy to even go out and play with other children. I am afraid they may laugh at me.”
Their mother has deep regrets as well. “My husband does not help me to take care of our children. It is difficult for me to do it all alone. When I saw them on their return, I was very sad, especially because Godwin came back with something that looks like goiter. I regret my actions.”
The story of Goodwin, Ebenezer and Bright underscores how the Free the Slaves Growing Up Free Project is building community resistance to child trafficking and rescuing trafficking victims from slavery on Lake Volta. The initiative supports the formation and implementation of a comprehensive, integrated plan for prevention, rescue, prosecution, rehabilitation, reintegration, education, wrap-around social services, the development of market-based livelihoods for vulnerable families, and the formation of communities united in the determination to drive slavery from their midst. Learn more here.