A SINGLE GIFT
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GHANA – In early October, IJM led two rescue operations which resulted in the freedom of 10 boys from labour trafficking.
The rescues were a collaborative effort between IJM, the Dambai Police, and the Department of Social Welfare. On the day of the rescue operation, the team moved swiftly to avoid a possible attack by the local community.
Most of the survivors were trafficked by close relatives, who sent them to work for fishermen on Lake Volta in exchange for money. They were contracted for three years and promised 800 cedis ($80 AUD) for their labour.
The boys were subjected to neglect and abuse – forced to paddle and scoop water out from the boats. Some suffered from untreated medical conditions such as stomach ulcers, eye problems, and skin infections.
Before they were trafficked, most of the survivors attended school. Sadly, over half of them dropped out due to the impossible demands of work. Those who managed to remain in school had to struggle through the exhaustion of waking up before dawn to fish.
IJM staff observed that the boys had low self-esteem. They were timid and easily startled, always in a “ready to act or react” mood.
Since rescue, the survivors have moved to a shelter, where they are receiving care and protection while IJM staff follow up on the case and provide support for investigations and legal action.
Despite the trauma the survivors faced, they have hope in their newfound freedom. One of the survivors, a 12-year-old boy, shared that he finds hope in things as simple as rice and chicken, a meal he was served after the rescue. He shared that for the past three years, he had only eaten it during Christmas time, and because this meant so much to him, he ate only a portion of it and saved the rest for later.
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