“Kwame”, now 15 years old, was among the 36 trafficked children rescued by IOM Ghana in 2008. He comes from one of the fishing communities in the North Tongu District of the Volta Region of Ghana. Prior to his rescue, he was working with a fisherman as a fishing boy in one of the fishing Islands along the Volta Lake.
During his rescue, it was discovered that his left eye was severely injured and needed medical attention. Before being rescued, he informed the IOM team that his injury was as a result of sand entering into the eye but later confessed during rehabilitation that he was injured as a result of diving under the water to disentangle a fishing net. While under the water, a stick pierced his left eye...
See the attached report for pictures and the rest of Kwame's story.
Mary and her driver met us at Mamkessem and drove us in a dirt road to a village called set right on the coast called Immuna. The beautiful surroundings concealed the darker side of this town. We met with the village chief who, through a translator, told us that many children from the village had been trafficked in to the fishing industry. Men come to take them to promise parents that they will pay the children’s school fees and take care of them, but this is not the case. They force the children to work hard labor for long hours and they are often mistreated and ill fed.
IOM has negotiated the return of many of the children not only in this village, but many other on the coast. The children and their families work with IOM for at least 2.5 years to assure the children have counseling and can be reintegrated and to spread awareness to the community and parents. The chief said that formerly men would come and take many children, now if they try to convince parents to send their children with them, the villagers laugh at them and send them off.
As Mary introduced us to one of the school teachers, he explained that over 60 of the students at the school had been trafficked, but thanks to the work of Eric and the others at IOM they have returned to the community and many are now at the top of their class.
However, there are still many children from Immuna and many other areas, which have not been returned to their homes. The IOM staff has developed a sponsorship program to provide sustainable support for the children who have already been rescued so that once they can have long-term support and IOM can continue to help more children.
Sarah and four other In-the-Field Travelers are currently in Ghana before they are making their way to Mali and Burkina Faso. They'll be visiting more than 30 GlobalGiving projects in the next month. Follow their adventures at http://itfwa.wordpress.com/.
A story on a rescued child with a physical challenge with the vision receiving medical attention and reintegrated children who have been enrolled in schools and also benefitted from school supplies.
TRAFFICKED CHILDREN RESCUED IN 2009 RETURN HOME
All the 36 children rescued in February and March this year (2009) were successfully reunited with their families after the 15th of May, 2009 and have begun their reintegration process. May 15th of every year is the International Day as declared by The United Nations General Assembly. This year’s International Day of the Family, fell on Friday, 15 May, 2009. The theme chosen for this year’s celebration of the day is Mothers and Families: Challenges in a Changing World. IOM Accra used the day to highlight the importance of mothers and families in promoting and protecting the rights and development of children. In celebrating the day, IOM Accra focused on making mothers and families understand that trafficking children is not the solution to the challenges they encounter in a changing world. Several stakeholders from governmental and non-governmental agencies were present and presentation in recognition of this year’s celebration.
Before reuniting with their families, the children underwent a comprehensive rehabilitation program with support from health professionals, social workers, psychologist and educators in both the private and public sectors. They also had access to psychosocial counseling designed specifically to enable them to heal from the trauma of their ordeal. At the beginning of their rehabilitation, the children received medical evaluation and were treated for several diseases including all kinds of sores in their mouths and on their bodies’ bilharzias, malaria, anemia and various skin diseases among others. Two children who were diagnosed of having sickle cell anemia were referred for further assessment at specialist hospitals.
STORY OF ANDREWS KWEITSU
Andrew Kwetsu was also among the 36 children rescued by IOM, Ghana this year. Andrews who hails from Ningo in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana was living with the maternal grandmother when the parents were deceased. A few years after however, the paternal grandmother came for him under the pretense of sending him to school but instead gave him to a fisherman in Kete-Krachi to engage him in fishing.
At Kete-Krachi, Andrews goes to fishing with his master and other trafficked children from 4:00am till noon and again in the afternoon till late at night. His duties during fishing included paddling the canoe, scooping water from the canoe, diving under water to disentangle stuck nets from tree stumps and pulling fishing nets.
Before his rescue, he was found to be physically challenged at his spinal chord. The physical challenge was alleged to have resulted from a fall he suffered during a fishing expedition. He was said to have slipped in the canoe, falling and in the process landing with his spine on the edge of the canoe.
According to Andy, his master failed to send him to the hospital to receive medical attention, but rather offered him paracetamol and asked him to stay home for a couple of days to recuperate. According to him, the affected spine started bending, making it difficult for him to stand straight. Presently, Andrews cannot stand upright for a period beyond two minutes. He usually experiences pain, numbness or tingling in the legs and feet in addition to pain in the back.
The physical challenge has predisposed him to mockery and ridicule by some of his peers. He cannot get involve himself with other friends to play soccer, the game he likes best. Notwithstanding the physical and health challenge, he was asked to resume fishing after a month.
Andrews who has been united with his maternal grandmother (who would not stop crying from the first day she set her gaze on him) has been enrolled in school. He hopes to be an auto mechanic in the future.
IOM has gone a step further to send Andrews to the hospital for treatment. After initial assessments on him by a spine specialist, which cost $1500 in total, he was diagnosed of tuberculosis (TB) of the spine contrary to what we were made to believe when he was rescued. According to the Doctor, the TB which was left untreated is what has resulted in the bending of his spine. Andrews has since been put on TB treatment after a series of test.
With the support of some individuals and groups such as Global Giving, IOM was able to deposit half of the amount of $5000 required for his surgery, enabling him to undergo the surgery to correct his spine. The surgery which was done a month ago was successful and he is currently being taken through a post surgery care which is going to last for the next five months. IOM, is currently soliciting for more funds to enable it complete payment for the surgery and also provide for Andrew’s post surgery care. In his own words, Andrews said “I thank all those who supported my surgery; I will cherish their kindness forever”
These are just a few additional photos of the kids rescued in Phase 1 of the February rescue mission.
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