Thursday, March 24, 2011

Africa 2011: Child Slavery Rescue


Preface:
In 2009, I joined the Bloom Book Club, where I met Tia. She and I had a lot in common, including our love of God, Africa, and our sponsored children. We soon became best friends. Tia had served in Africa twice, and when one of our Compassion children learned this, he began to pray that we would serve in his country of Ghana.

When we began to research the possibility, we were shocked by what we learned. We knew our lives would never be the same. When we announced where we would go in November of 2011 and why, another Bloom member decided to join us, as did my 13 year old son.

Never would I have imagined that God would have combined a book club, a Compassion child, and modern day slavery to turn three women and a 13 year old boy into abolitionists.

As you read the rest of this post, you too may decide to join us.




Welcome to Lake Volta, located in eastern Ghana, West Africa.

Hope begins on Lake Volta, but at first glance, the hope is hard to see. Lake Volta is home to a very lucrative fishing industry, but the fishing industry has a very dark and dangerous side.


There are no employees in the Lake Volta fishing industry. Only slave masters, and slaves.


Child slaves.


With false promises of an education and a future, something so many families feel no hope of reaching in Ghana, children as young as 4 years old are unwittingly sold by their parents to cunning slave masters, and then forced to work under cruel and inhumane conditions.


Imagine poverty so desperate that selling your child might be the only choice you feel you have?




Which of your children would you sell in hopes of giving them a future?


In some cases, it's an "easy" choice of which children are sold. Many of these children were orphaned and left in the care of relatives, who struggled to provide for them and opted out at the first "opportunity". Imagine the rejection these orphans experience? Do they even know that God commands us to care for the orphans and protect them? Do they even know how much God loves them, especially them?


The boys are used as slaves in the fishing industry, their childhood vanishing as they spend their days trapped on the lake, endlessly fishing, hauling and mending nets, and diving to the bottom of the lake when nets become tangled. If they refuse, the slave masters may chose not to beat them, but instead force the other child slaves to beat them into submission.


The visible scars they bear are horrific; one can barely fathom the seemingly invisible scars that shred the heart of these precious children. It only takes a look into their eyes, and the scars on their souls can be seen.




The days are long and dangerous. Working up to 18 hours a day, sometimes getting one meal, sometimes not... these young boys are not only facing cruelty, hunger and exhaustion, but environmental dangers such as drowning, crocodiles and electric eels. Children who die are buried by their fellow child slaves on the shores of the Lake Volta islands without their parents ever learning their fate.

Even though the boys are used in the fishing industry, young girls aren’t spared. The girls are initially used as slave servants for the slave masters’ families. The slave master’s own children go to school while the slave children are denied an education as they are made to do all the domestic labor as well as cleaning and preparing the fish caught that day. The work is literally endless.

As they get older, the girls’ future becomes even more desperate. The girls are eventually used as sex slaves, often ending up pregnant before reaching their teenage years.


Escapes are rare. These islands are isolated, with few opportunities for the children to flee. Fear and terror is enough to keep them from attempting an escape.


While it would seem as though these children have lost all hope, God knows each of them by name, and so does the man God has sent to rescue them.





His name is George Achibra Sr, a modern day Moses living on the shores of Lake Volta in Ghana. George has dedicated his life to negotiating for the release of these child slaves and has rescued several hundred of these children from slavery on Lake Volta.
One by one.

George demonstrates a capacity to love that is rare, refreshing, and breathtakingly beautiful. I see evidence of Jesus in his heart not only in how he devotes his life to these children, but also in the way he has compassion and concern for the slave masters. It’s not enough to rescue the children peacefully and respectfully, George loves God enough to provide alternate means for the slave masters to earn incomes that do not rely on these children. His goal is not only to give the children a better future; he strives to do the same for the men who enslave them. He builds a relationship with them, treats them with respect, and works hard to change their future and their hearts.


Does that not have the fingerprints of God all over it?
Our trip to Africa will be in support of George and his team at PACODEP. We will serve alongside of him while he tends to the child slaves on the islands of Lake Volta and negotiates rescues. Working with George, his team and these children will help us gain a better understanding of their situation so that we can in turn advocate for the release and freedom of these children.

On the mainland, we will work alongside of George and his team at the Village of Life, the campus built to accommodate the children who have been rescued. Love will be poured onto these children as they adjust to their new freedom and learn to read and write, learn the basics of hygiene, get proper nutrition and care… even as they learn to play. Although we will be teaching the children, it is likely us that will learn far greater from each and every one of them.


There is no need too small to fill,

and one need larger than the others.




George’s success in rescuing these precious children poses a challenge. The current three-classroom unit is at max capacity, and without more space, George’s team cannot accommodate and rehabilitate more rescued children. They currently have 51 children living at the Village of Life, and thousands still waiting to be rescued. The construction of a new classroom unit would enable them to bring in more children from the islands of Lake Volta.

Education is crucial at the Village of Life. The children’s rehabilitation and future depend on it… breaking the cycle of poverty and hopelessness depends on it…

...and George’s success depends on us.


In America, it would take hundreds of thousands of dollars to build a school. In Ghana, it’s considerably less. The cost of a three-classroom unit for the Village of Life is $30,000.


$30,000 that George does not have.

I’ll be honest, I don’t have $30,000. It's likely the neither of us have $30,000. So, to you and I, building the school may seem like an insurmountable challenge. What matters is that we serve a God for Whom nothing is impossible, a God who has gathered us together to make a difference for these children. What an amazing opportunity to make a difference!


Alone, we can't. Together, we can.
We will be spending the next 7 months working hard to raise the necessary funds for our trip expenses, the school construction, as well as collecting school and educational supplies, malaria nets, toys and treats for the children. Every penny counts, every bake sale and yard sale important, every donation precious and life changing. It may seem overwhelming through the world’s eyes, but if enough of us gather generously in His name, we CAN succeed in providing this gift to the children of Lake Volta.


We need people like George, who stand in the gap for these children… and George and these children need us to stand in the gap too.


Will you be the answer to this child's prayers?





Your prayers and your support are greatly needed and appreciated.


For updates on our work in Ghana, 
please check blog updates here:  November 2011

For tax deductible receipts in the U.S., please send donation to:

P.O. Box 460
Apple Creek, Ohio
44606
USA
(Earmark all donations to "Ghana Child Slave Rescue")



He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly
with your God.
Micah 6:8


For more information or for Canadian Interac email fund transfers, please contact Africa@BeyondMeasure.me
For more information on George’s team, visit PACODEP’s website http://pacodep.com/index.php

Unforgettable video of the children of Lake Volta and the work that George and his team have devoted their lives to: http://www.touchalifekids.org/lake-volta-video

NY Times articles on the Lake Volta slavery: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/29/world/africa/29ghana.html?_r=1

21 Comments:

Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies said...

First, I will be praying for this endeavor!

Second, I will be sharing this blog post on my blog very soon!

Third, I will brainstorm for ways to help out financially!

I am very excited for you!

Rebecca said...

I had chills throughout the entire post.

I cannot even express how excited I am for you and for this ministry...I definitely see that God did lead you to the "right fit."

YAY!

Caitlin S. said...

I'm so excited to "come along"! The organization you picked? Wow.

JD said...

Thank you, Michelle, for your support and prayers, and for being willing to share on your blog. The awareness will help our mission efforts!

Looking forward to bringing a gift to your Compassion child on your behalf!!

JD said...

Rebecca -- I knew this post would resonate deeply with you. I'm so grateful for your prayers and support and God chose this mission trip for us.

I couldn't have imagined a better fit -- God blew our socks off :)

JD said...

Caitlin -- God chose the perfect fit for us, for sure... in more ways than there are words to express!! Thank you for coming along with us, where more than 2 are gathered in His name... :)

Anonymous said...

Those poor children; I wish we could save them all. Thank God for people who care. Thank God for you. Much LOVE sent your way. Maman

Jill Foley said...

This is so exciting to read - I'm excited for you and will be praying about ways I can help. You can count on my prayers for you as you get word out and raise funds, as well as for the children living in this situation.

Be blessed.

Judy said...

My husband and I will definitely be praying for you, for George, and for all the children.

Deanna said...

My heart shattered at reading the plight of these precious children. What a true Godsend George must be to everyone whose life he comes in contact with. And how courageous and faithful you are to be the hands of heart of Jesus alongside him. We'll be praying for this mighty ministry and it's success while considering what we can do to contribute. Blessings to you!

Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies said...

The tally just keeps going up and up! :D Woohoo!

Talisa said...

This is awesome!

Anonymous said...

If you wanted to join the trip how would you go about it?

JD said...

Jill, Judy, and Deanna -- thank you SO much for your prayers and support for children, George's ministry, and our mission project. Deanna -- your words echo the experience I had when I learned about these children, about George's ministry and heart. I know this will be the first of many trips to Ghana for us.

JD said...

Michelle -- stay tuned, it's about to double very soon -- we have another contribution pledged to bring us to 4%!! Your support been SO appreciated!

JD said...

Anonymous -- there are various ways to join in this mission -- contact us at Africa@beyondmeasure.me!

Anonymous said...

JD: This is Linda Shinn from OC. I just came across this blog while I was looking at your blog about Berling's photo. You have such a beautiful gift for touching people's hearts with your words.

This is such a hard situation for me to comprehend. I suppose in my head I realize that things like this happen in places around the world, but in my heart I have a hard time accepting that people can be so very cruel to children!

I will be praying for your trip, for George's efforts (wow, what an amazing man of God!) and for the fundraising campaign for the facility there. I will also be sure to pass this information along to anyone I know of who may be interested in helping out financially as well. May God richly bless this effort and those precious children!

Thank you for answering the call, and for helping to spread the word about these atrocities, and the potential for hope for these children...

Anonymous said...

Hello JD, I found this after reading some of your journaling on OC. How much God is using you and your gift of writing! I am so thankful for you and will be praying for the lives that will be reached through this project. As I am praying for how the Lord wants me to use any funds that he puts in my hands I will remember this project also, and George! This is the name of my oldest son, it will be easy to recall. Praying that nothing will happen to prevent you from going, and that the Lord will be glorified as children are rescued out of the place that satan meant for them to stay in. Laura Dorsey

Lisa Marie said...

JD, I will share this on FB and my blog. If we can raise over $23,000 For Liliana's adoption in a day we can certainly do this! God bless you for not just sitting on the sidelines!

JD said...

Lisa Marie -- thank you, please do share. Many of these children are living as orphans, they were so young when they were taken, not all of them know where they are from or who their families are. Many were orphans to begin with, sold by relatives who could not take on one more child. Devastating, and yet such an opportunity for redemption, love, and hope.

Couldn't not do this...

Anonymous said...

this has inspired me so much and im only 10 when i am older i want to something like this and belive in god and i will pray he is with in your journey to help these children

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