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/.
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