Tricked into child slavery: Kweku’s story
Kweku is woken up before sunrise with a smack around the head. It happens every day, after his master enters the room he’s been kept in all night under lock-and-key. Today, this 12-year-old boy won’t go to school. Instead he’ll be forced to undertake the dangerous work of fishing on Lake Volta, Ghana. After his mum became ill he had no-one to care for him, and he was told by a man he met that he knew a place he could work. But he didn’t tell him the conditions. And he didn’t tell him he’d be getting 25 pence per day for it.
An estimated 20,000 children are living today in Ghana as slaves, living stories like this. The reasons are diverse, but they are driven by a dangerous mix of desperate poverty and unscrupulous traffickers who trick them with the promise of a better life.
These children are being denied their basic human rights to safety, education, healthcare, adult care, nutrition, play, and freedom. The money they receive is so little that it falls far under any established poverty line.
Although Ghanaian law prohibits this situation, it’s still widespread. Through supporting Challenging Heights, a member of Family for Every Child, we’re working hard to change that.
Breaking the chains of slavery
We need to help children already enslaved and stop it happening in the future. That’s why we take a holistic approach, focussing on four key areas:
- Prevention: We need to tackle the desperation that causes children to take the risk of leaving their community. This means reducing poverty in at-risk communities by ensuring that people have opportunities to improve their livelihood; as well as educating people about the reality of what faces children who are trafficked.
- Prosecution: Laws exist in Ghana that make this activity illegal, but there has only been a few prosecutions of traffickers to date. As such, it is not an effective deterrent.
- Protection: Those children already in slavery need to be rescued, rehabilitated and given care and education.
- Partnership: So much more can be achieved if we work with others. That’s why effective and efficient partnership between the government, non-government organisations such as ours, and the private sector are so important.
We’re making a difference
We’re proud to be working towards the end of child slavery in Ghana.
As of today, we’ve rescued over 1,600 children from slavery. This means we’ve saved them from their past reality, and helped them build a brighter future by providing education, high quality adult care, and therapy. This is supported by 1,600 adults who we’ve trained to be effective caregivers.
To stop it from happening in the future, we’ve reached 160,000 people across the most affected communities with information about the risks of trafficking.
We’ve also successfully prosecuted two slave traffickers, responsible for the slavery of hundreds of children; but there’s still many others out there. That’s why, this year, we are partnering with the International Justice Mission to expand our prosecution activities much further. In fact, everything we do has been strengthened by our range of partnerships, including those with other members of Family for Every Child.
Looking to the future
We’ve achieved a lot, but tens of thousands of children are still enslaved in Ghana alone. We’ll continue to strive each and every day until every child can live without the threat of slavery. Until then, the struggle continues.
Names and details have been changed in this story and the photographs are for illustration purposes only, in order to protect the identity of the children involved.