Friday, February 09, 2007

Child Slavery in Ghana

Today the Oprah Winfrey show was about child slavery in Ghana. There is more than one type of child slavery there--the Oprah show highlighted children who are sold to fisherman as young as 4 years old and spend up to 14 hours a day working in dangerous conditions on Lake Volta.

Another form of slavery is particularly rampant among the Ewe tribe in Ghana (Volta Region). My understanding is that virgin girls are given to Ewe Priests basically as concubines. They live their lives "serving" the priest in physical and practical ways. One priest may have MANY slave girls as his servants. Families willingly give their girls to the priests so that they can stay in good standing with their tribal god. Of course, many children are born through these slave girls, and the priest doesn't claim any of them.

I was glad to see Oprah highlight Ghana's child trafficking issues. What I want people to understand is that the government of Ghana really does seem to be doing a lot to try to stop child slavery. They have the laws in place. And in every government building (and on the streets) you see poster after poster speaking of the dangers and immorality of rape, child trafficking, and pedophilia. The Ghanaian government is up against generations and generations of these practices, basically built into their culture, and it is hard to change a part of the culture of a nation (I speak like I have experience with this or something! LOL!).

I have read that the authorities in Ghana are particularly leery of prosecuting the Ewe priests for their slave girls...still just a bit too scared that the tribal gods will punish them.

Even though I don't condone the Ghanaian government's lack of progress in this area, I believe that there are many people in the government who truly do want to stamp out child slavery in their country. I feel sad that the Ghanaian government, who so wants to be fully functional and not seen as a "developing" government," was probably very embarrassed by Oprah's show today. I pray that the reaction is positive--being more dedicated than ever to stopping child slavery in their country--rather than defensive.

Pam Cope was a women who was on the Oprah show today. She raised money and negotiated the system in Ghana in order to free 7 children from "fishing slavery" in Ghana. After the show I immediately went to google to learn more (I'm assuming like millions of others out there)! What I learned is that Pam Cope (and her husband Randy) are people we should be supporting! They run a non-profit humanitarian organization called Touch a Life Ministries. I don't have any first hand experience with Touch a Life Ministries (yet) but their projects certainly look worthy.

I've already noticed a big jump in blog hits today, coming from people who are googling "Ghana Adoption." I'm assuming that if you found this blog through a search like that you'd like to know if international adoption is happening in Ghana. The answer is YES! The process is full of unknowns at this point, but families are getting adoption decrees and kids will be coming home shortly through Life's Vision International adoption agency. Please feel free to write me with any questions and I will give you my honest feedback about the program and the beautiful and deserving children of Ghana. I don't know if adoptions are possible through Village of Hope (the orphanage the slave children went to) but have written to Pam Cope to see if it might be a possibility.

Finally, here are a few organizations that I urge you to throw your support to.

  • Touch a Life Ministries-- A humanitarian ministry run by Pam and Randy Cope (Vietnam, Cambodia, and Ghana projects).
  • Every Child Ministries-- A ministry that is involved in saving the slave girls of the Ewe tribe from shrine slavery.
  • The Village of Hope Orphanage--An orphanage serving hundreds of children in various capacities (some in foster homes, some with family members, some living on campus, some street children). The orphanage who took in all 7 of the children saved from "fishing slavery" by Pam and Randy Cope.
  • Life's Vision International--To my knowledge, the only US agency currently conducting international adoptions through Ghana. LVI is also a registered Non-Government Organization (NGO) in Ghana and involved in several humanitarian projects there.




Jasmine 9:42 PM  

Did you catch the article in the NY Times about it? They had done an article about the children in the Volta Region, and then a follow up last week about them being rescued. They were both really well done.
It's so sad what goes on in this world. :-(

You might already know about this, but my mom and I watched a movie the other night that made me think of your blog and Brighton.
It's a documentary called Emmanuel's Gift, and part of it is narrated by Oprah Winfrey. It is a superb film! Very well done and very touching. My mom and I were in tears. (It hit home for us, as tho we're not adopting from Ghana, I have three siblings with special needs and the thought of them in that situation was unbearable.)
I would definitely recommend it!

Love reading your blog,
(Bio sister to six, adoptive sister to four through domestic adoption, and awaiting two Liberian siblings)

Anita and Family 9:51 PM  


Thank you for the comment! Yes! We did see Emmanuel's Gift! Actually, because of that film we had planned to give our Ghanaian son the middle name Emmanuel. It's a wonderful film--highly recommended!


Kathy 2:53 PM  

Hi Anita,

I came across your blog when trying to read up on Oprah's show. It was such perfect timing with this year being the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade. Unfortunately, I missed the show and wanted to ask if you taped it?

Anita and Family 6:44 PM  

Response to Kathy:

Hi Kathy! I did tape the show on our DVR, but there's no way to get it off of the DVR and onto a tape or DVD to send it to someone else. Sorry! It was a great show. Maybe it could be purchased through the Oprah show????

Kathy 9:18 AM  

The Oprah Show doesn't sell tapes for the time being. Awful, thanks for your help. I'll try to ask more people!