Nine (9) year old Paa Kwesi was rescued by IOM in 2011 and has since been reintegrated with his father in a community in the Central region of Ghana.
Paa Kwesi was living with both parents in a fishing community in a fishing district of Ghana. He was just three (3) years when his father left the family and never returned. according to his father, he had to leave his family when his fishing business collapse and it became very difficult to feed his family. Paa Kwesi's mother took care of him on her own until she remarried and had to move to her husband at a mining town in the ashanti Region of Ghana. As she did not want the presence of her son to create any problems in her new marriage, she gave out Paa to a fisherman for a fee when he was just six (6) years old; he had been with the fisherman for three years until his rescue.
While with the fisherman, Paa Kwesi's usual day started at 5am and ended at 8pm. His tasks included paddling and taking water out of the canoe. He was fed only twice a day and said he felt very tired at the end of each day.
Paa whose growth looks stunted as a result of the physical pressure he was put through at a young age of six, is very happy he was rescued by the IOM team. He is currently in school (Kindergaten I) in the Central Region of Ghana; where he is performing academically well, although he had a little difficulty from the beginning.
Paa is very happy now and almost always wears a smile. His interpersonal relationship with his class mates and family members has greatly improved. it is heartwarming to see him progress from the quite and withdrawn child rescued a year ago to a very happy and open child. All these were achieved with the support of your generous donations. He would however need your continuous supports to enable him achieve his dream of becoming a medical doctor in future.
“My name is Never and I am 18 years old. When I was 10, I was removed from school along with my younger brother and sister and we were sent to work with a fisherman. The work was hard and very dangerous.”
Never and his siblings had a normal life until their father began experiencing financial problems and was not able to provide for his large family. The parents were approached by a fisherman who offered to care and send the kids to school in exchange for some work. He offered to pay US$200 for each child, but only paid US$133 for the three.
Once in the fishing community Never worked 14-hour days. A typical started at 5am when he and other children would set off in the dark to begin a long day on the lake. After a meager lunch, they would continue fishing and repairing nets. Never and his siblings would return from work at 7pm.
Although they caught many fish, these were sold by the ‘master’ and were never allowed to use for their own consumption.
“Being sick was not an option,” recalls Never. “When we complained, they would beat us with paddles and force us to continue working.”
Never missed his family so much that he often dreamt of the day when someone would come and take him home. Never was exploited for 2 years before being rescued.
“It was 6pm when an IOM team came on a rescue mission to the village. If not for IOM, I don’t know how my life would be today. Because of what happened to us, we did not behave like other kids, so IOM gave us training before we were brought back to our homes,” adds Never.
The horrific experience kept haunting him even after he returned home. “Sometimes I dreamt of big fish chasing me in a river,” recounts Never.
But he does not blame the fisherman who treated him badly. “I know it is their way of doing business; sometimes it comes from ignorance.”
He is a happy and well-adjusted teenager living with his family and currently in his last year of High School. He believes education has changed him. He speaks English and interacts with friends and other people.
“If I manage to finish school, I will teach my younger brothers and sisters how to read and write, so that they will be like me,” he states proudly.
Never has many plans for the future: “If I have the money, I will set up a business for my family, so that they will not suffer from poverty again.” Never hopes his story will bring rescue to hundreds of children who remain trafficked.