In late November, IJM and partners rescued four boys and one girl between the ages of 8 and 15 who had been trafficked into the dangerous fishing industry in Ghana. They faced treacherous working conditions and were abused by the fishermen who enslaved them for six months before they were rescued. The young girl had a wound from being punished with a knife.
This rescue also led to the arrest of four suspects.
The IJM team and government partners partners initially set out to rescue three children. On the day of rescue, two children had left early to fish, meaning only one child could be located, rescued and taken to safety.
The operation was not over, however. The team did not give up.
The first rescued child shared the names of two other children trafficked on the lake, and the man who enslaved them. The team began to prepare a follow-up rescue. But before they could, the suspect mentioned by the rescued child came to the police station to bail out one of the previously arrested suspects. He was detained and police forced him to produce the two children he had allegedly been using for slave labor.
Still the team was not done fighting for freedom. The two children who left to fish early were still missing. The team diligently searched for them until they were located - a week after the first rescue attempt.
Monica Nettey, IJM Attorney, said even in the face of unforeseen challenges, the team was highly motivated to continue to fight for these children. “Despite all the disappointments, I think the team kept pushing because before setting off on this operation, one of the goals we set for ourselves was that none of these children would spend Christmas in slavery. And so we kept going until that was achieved. It was all God’s grace that saw us through.”
One of the children told Nettey, “it was good you came at the time you came because one of the victims you rescued had almost drowned twice before your coming and I don’t know what would have happened to her.”
The children rescued had been on the lake for about six months. They had been taken from their home community to fish and farm. The children are now receiving care at a shelter, and all have a bright future ahead of them.