The Problem

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Although child trafficking is illegal worldwide, there are more  trafficked people today than in any other time in history. Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal activity today with a global annual market of $42.5 billion.  Trafficking today manifests in bonded labor, forced labor, and sexual exploitation. Child trafficking is a unique problem in the larger domain of human trafficking because more than 30% of trafficked children are forced into the child sex industry. Trafficked children are often taken from exploited families in impoverished regions throughout the world. But instead of receiving an income and/or education as the families are promised, the trafficked children undergo severe physical and mental trauma and don’t develop normally as a child should.

The Problem in Ghana

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Lake Volta in Ghana is the world’s largest man-made lake, and also the epicenter for much of the forced child labor in Ghana. Each day, hundreds of children wake up before sunrise and head out onto the lake as fishing assistants. These young boys’ and girls’ parents sold them into slave like conditions in the hopes of getting supplemental income and/or an education for their children. Many of these children are sold when they are just 3 or 4 years old.  These children work on rickety fishing boats from sunrise to sunset every day. The labor is so physically demanding, the burdens placed on the young children distort their bodies forever. The “fishing children” receive no education, are fed sparingly (often only receiving a single meal a day, if that), and often die of untreated illnesses, or directly because of their labor.

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Because Lake Volta is a man-made lake, there are many trees underwater that often get caught in the fishing nets.  When this happens the children are forced to dive into the freezing water to free the net from the branches. Quite often, in an attempt to free the net, the fishing children end up getting caught in it themselves, drowning as they try to escape. There are thousands of these fishing children throughout Lake Volta, and it is estimated that hundreds, even thousands, of children have died as a direct cause of their forced labor.