By Anna Bengel
A new special Free the Slaves series profiles children who have survived slavery on Ghana’s Lake Volta. They were forced to work day and night on dangerous, deadly fishing boats. They were abused, held under threat of violence, unable to walk away. Many children enslaved on the lake are never seen again. But these inspiring survivors highlight how our community-based model for freedom really works.
Photographer Emily Teague volunteered to help Free the Slaves by traveling to Ghana to photograph child slavery on Lake Volta, and document the remarkable stories of children who have escaped or been rescued thanks to our “Growing Up Free” program. These portraits of freedom, and stories that go with them, are astounding. Click on the link in each caption for the full story.
These six children—and many more—were freed as part of our Ghana initiative “Growing Up Free,” which focuses on 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.
Working conditions for trafficked children on Lake Volta are deplorable. The work to rescue children, and ensure that no one else takes their place on the boats, is urgent. New research by Free the Slaves has uncovered 35 percent of households in the villages where we work having a victim of child trafficking or slavery-like conditions.
Our “Growing Up Free” program is made possible by an innovative Child Protection Compact Partnership between the U.S. and Ghana governments, as well as by individual contributions by Free the Slaves supporters. Learn more, and see video of an actual child rescue, on our Ghana webpage.
Thanks to Free the Slaves Ghana Country Program Manager Bismark Quartey and Theorore Atsu Ameme of our partner International Needs Ghana for their work in documenting the six remarkable survivor stories in our portraits of freedom series. And our thanks to photographer Emily Teague for her stunning images.