Saving Children Sold Into Slavery in Ghana

May 29, 2014

Former Child Labour Victim Shares her Story

Abranvi at school
Abranvi at school

Abranvi*  was among a group of over 100 trafficked children rescued by IOM in 2005. She survived over three years of her childhood forced to work for a fishing master at Yeji in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana,  along Volta Lake .


Abranvi and her elder sister were both trafficked by their parents for economic gains at an estimated age of nine (9). While she was forced to work on Volta Lake she endured very hazardous conditions until she was rescued by IOM and reunited with her father in their community in the Volta Region.


Before being rescued, her fishing master used her both on the lake and for domestic services. Her typical day on the lake was from 4:00am to 11:00am and then from 4:00pm to 9:00pm. There were instances when she faced storms on the lake which got her so frightened that she said ‘ I was just lucky to have escaped without drowning.’’


After her rescue, she was enrolled in school by IOM .Through determination and hard work; she is currently in Senior High School, Form Three, and is writing her West Africa Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) hoping to complete this by the end of May 2014.


With IOM and her father’s support, her academic performance is very good. IOM is hopeful that Abranvi will receive high marks on the WASSCE to allow her to continue her studies at the tertiary level and pursue her dream of becoming a professional journalist in the future.


Message by Abranvi during a recent monitoring visit with her ‘’I am so grateful to IOM for rescuing me and enrolling me in school. I’m happy to be in school. May God bless you’’.


*Please note the name has been changed to protect the identity of the child.

Abranvi at home
Abranvi at home
Feb 26, 2014

Testimonials from trafficked children

John and his mother receive IOM in-kind assistance
John and his mother receive IOM in-kind assistance

IOM continues to provide support to children rescued from situations of trafficking in Ghana, thanks to private donor contributions. During a recent monitoring visit with some of these sponsored children, testimonials were collected to raise further awareness about the plight of those remaining in conditions of forced labor. Below is an excerpt of stories from two children currently going through the reintegration process.

My name is John and I am 15 years old. I survived four years of my childhood spent working for a fisherman at Lala-Krachi in the Krachi District of Volta Region. I was trafficked at the age of six by my maternal grandmother during my stay with her. During the period of trafficking, I worked from dawn till dusk every day under harsh conditions.

Before being rescued by IOM in 2008, my fishing master used me for all activities pertaining to fishing on Volta Lake such as scooping water from canoes, carrying fish from the lake side, diving into the lake to disentangle nets, and domestic services.

After my rescue, I was enrolled in school by IOM and am currently in Basic School Class Three. I am happy to be learning in school because my performance is good. I always attain between first and fourth position in class at the end of every term. My current family situation is that, I live with my mother. She is a single parent and doing her best to cater for me at home and school through her petty trading.

My name is Michael and I am 16 years old. I was trafficked at age eleven by my mother after the death of my father. I spent two years working for my fishing master at Awate-Tornu, a village located in the North Dayi District of Volta Region. I was maltreated by my master and forced to engage in various fishing activities such as diving into the river to disentangle nets, paddling canoes, casting nets, pulling net, mending nets when torn, unscaling fish, and scooping water from canoes, until IOM rescued me in 2011.

After my rescue, I was enrolled in Basic School Class Six. I am very happy to be learning in school and my academic performance is very good. I always emerge with the first or second position in class at the end of each term and my performance has earned me school prefect.

I currently live with my mother and stepfather as my biological father passed on prior to my trafficking. My mother and stepfather do their best to support me in school. The challenge, however, is that they make very little money from their work, which makes it impossible for them to adequately take care of me and my siblings.

On behalf of IOM and USAIM, we thank you for your support of children such as John and Michael. Together we can make a difference in the lives of rescued children, so they can attain or reach their highest potential in life through a safe and dignified manner. Donations are used to provide basic essentials for children to attend school or their apprenticeship program and include school supplies, food and hygiene items.

It is only through your generous support that we can continue to prevent and curtail child trafficking in Ghana.

Michael feeds his goats after school
Michael feeds his goats after school
Dec 23, 2013

Evaluation Results and Holiday Message

Meeting with community members
Meeting with community members

As we come to the end of 2013 we are pleased to share good news about the results of our child protection and child counter-trafficking campaign in Ghana. Since March 2013, IOM has partnered with six communities in the Volta Region of Ghana in an attempt to educate and raise awareness about the dangers and consequences of human trafficking and approaches for child protection. A series of highly interactive training workshops were held from September through November 2013; each starting with a community ‘Tree of Life’ mural activity and continuing with sessions explaining human trafficking and child protection concepts, the birth registration process (giving a child their identity), children’s rights and good parenting skills to name a few.

The IOM counter-trafficking team recently travelled to these communities to evaluate the success of the campaign and to acquire feedback from community members. The most highly valued training session mentioned by participants was child trafficking and the Human Trafficking Act, because many were unaware of the harsh realities faced by children after they had been trafficked. To quote one community leader, “we are appreciative of the work IOM is doing to educate the community about child protection. The toolkit will be a useful tool that we can continue to use long after your work here is done.”

The evaluation also indicated that the community remains concerned about economic hardship as many stated this played a role in decisions related to their children. In two communities, IOM was advised that as a result of new-found knowledge imparted by IOM regarding the dangers of child trafficking, parents voluntarily went to reclaim their children previously sent to fishermen.

As a result of these findings the IOM will adjust its approach to meet the needs of the communities as the remaining workshops are scheduled to take place through May 2014. In addition to this preventative approach to counter-trafficking, IOM also aims to conduct a group rescue in 2014 with the goal of rescuing at least 20 children held by fishermen on Lake Volta. This tandem approach of raising awareness and educating vulnerable communities together with direct assist is we hope a comprehensive means to address the issue of child trafficking in Ghana, together with government and NGO partners.

We hope you will continue to support our efforts as we plan for a dynamic 2014. It is only with your support that we can achieve our goal of rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration of children trafficked into the fishing industry in Ghana, and conduct important public awareness campaigns. We ask you to consider giving to our project during this Holiday season. As a special offer, GlobalGiving will match 100% of the initial donation of any recurring donations established during the last 12 days of December (more information available on their website).

On behalf of IOM Ghana we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season and thank you for your continued support and for brightening the spirits of children in Ghana!

Children provide feedback to IOM
Children provide feedback to IOM

Dec 4, 2013

Keys to Child Trafficking Prevention

New teachers accomodation - photo Evan Robbins
New teachers accomodation - photo Evan Robbins

IOM in partnership with BTCTE is please to share an update regarding the construction of a new teacher's accomodation in 2013, as part of ongoing efforts to prevent child trafficking through enhanced educational opportunities. The community of Awate-Tornu is located in the Volta Region, which has been heavily affected by the phenomenon of child trafficking into the fishing industry.

In 2012, a school block was constructed by IOM with funding support from BTCTE to allow children in the area to have access to education close to home and thereby prevent traffickers from duping parents/guardians with false promises of educational opportuniies for thier children. To ensure the sustainability of the school and to provide decent accomodation for teachers, IOM was able to embark on a new construction project in December 2012 with BTCTE to further enhance the school project.

In early November 2013, the IOM counter-trafficking team and representatives from BTCTE travelled to Awate-Tornu to monitor the progress being made and speak with members of the community. "The accomodation has made a drastic difference in the community. The teachers are now based in the community and our children are benefiting from continued learning." The further eplained that since the construction of the school block took place children have been attending lessons on a regular basis, and they would not consider sending them to another community. According to the teachers, there is also a great interest in teaching at the community as a result of the accomodation.

As we begin the season of Thanksgiving and Holiday celebrations, we would like to thank all of our donors for their support of IOM counter-trafficking projects in Ghana, and for making a difference in the lives of Ghanaian children. We are also thankful for the dedicated team on the ground working working to counter child trafficking and promote child protection.

It is only through your generous suppor that we can continue to prevent and curtail child-trafficking. We ask you to consider participating in one of Globalgiving's holiday campaigns to help us raise awareness and rescue more children. During the month of December, the top 9 organizations that raise the most funding with receive bonus awards towards their project. Additionally, if you are considering a recurring donation, those established during the last 12 days of December (and pledged for an additional 3 months), will be matched by GlobalGiving 100% on the initial donation.

Oct 30, 2013

Child Rescued from Trafficking

IOM and development partner negotiate release
IOM and development partner negotiate release

On 23 October, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in partnership with the Government of Ghana and village elders, undertook the rescue of a child trafficked into the fishing industry along Lake Volta. Although, the Government of Ghana has national legislation aimed at prosecuting traffickers (Human Trafficking Act 2005) and supports projects promoting awareness about the child trafficking phenomenon, children continue to be given to fishermen by their parents/guardians, particularly in the Volta Region of the country.

French documentary filmmaker Mr Daniel GrandClément accompanied IOM on its rescue of Samuel (name changed to protect his identify). For the first time the process of negotiation, release and return was captured on film. IOM hopes that this forthcoming film will reignite public support for the release of other children that remain in bonded labour to fishermen. “National and international pressure to stop child trafficking practices in Ghana is necessary to ensure a protected and safe future for all Ghanaian children. All children have the right to develop to their full potential without exposure to exploitative practices. We hope that the visualization of Samuel’s experience will contribute to the elimination of child trafficking,” explains Dyane Epstein, Chief of Mission, IOM Ghana.

Soon after his birth Samuel’s family moved to a village near Yeji. When Samuel was only 3 years old he was forced to start work on Lake Volta, bailing water out of his Master’s fishing boat. According to Samuel, he started more the dangerous and physical work at the age of 5, assisting his Master by working with fishing nets, diving to the bottom of Lake Volta and working long hours.

Following his rescue, Samuel, now aged between 14 and 15, will receive counselling and rehabilitation from officials with the Ministry of Social Welfare, any medical needs will be addressed and his parents/guardians will receive micro-grant assistance to better support his long-term needs. Samuel will also be enrolled in school and/or technical training to improve his chances for future success. Any child rescued as part of IOM’s programme undergoes 2.5 years of monitoring in an attempt to ensure a successful reintegration process.

On behalf of USAIM and IOM Ghana we would like to thank you for your continued support and encourage you to tell others about our work! Stay tuned for more information about our upcoming holiday fundraising initiatives through Global Giving.

Fisherman signs paperwork to release Samuel
Fisherman signs paperwork to release Samuel
Samuel (striped shirt) is officially freed
Samuel (striped shirt) is officially freed
Samuel is now safe at the rehabilitation centre
Samuel is now safe at the rehabilitation centre

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Project Leader

Maria Moreno

Washington, DC United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Saving Children Sold Into Slavery in Ghana