The Boys of the Lake are real. All 21,000+ of them. Trafficked, doing dangerous work, wearing next to nothing, just trying to survive a life that is much different than a life they dreamed of.
21,000 boys held as slaves in Ghana’s fishing industry on Lake Volta. Forced to do labor and work in conditions that are hard to imagine in our 1st world comfortable lifestyle.
I recently was able to experience the boys on the lake firsthand. I met them. I was part of a trip to Ghana where we were able to learn more and visit the Lake Volta region and actually interact with the boys and fishermen.
So is this their lot in life? Does being born in a certain location in the world increase your chances for a “hard life” or a life that really gives you no options or choice? Where we are born certainly gives us hand up or a push down. This does not mean all people born in the 3rd world are doomed to a rough life, certainly that isn’t the case.
But what about the boy that is 5 years old and his parent can’t take care of him? So the boy goes off to “learn the fishing trade” and go to school. Purchased for a mere $20-$60 USD. But the boy never gets to go to school. The boy doesn’t get to live inside the fisherman’s house. The boy doesn’t get healthy meals. The boy doesn’t get new clothes. Instead the boy works the lake. 16 hours a day setting nets, pulling in fish, cleaning, etc. And the lake is huge! Twice the size of Rhode Island with many fingers and outlets, Lake Volta is massive and full of dangers to trap the boys. One of the biggest dangers is when a fishing net gets stuck on a tree beneath the surface of the water. It’s the boy’s job to dive in and untangle the net. Many times the boys don’t resurface.
Our team wondered: Why can’t we just take them? Why can’t we just rescue them when we pull along side their wooden fishing boats? It’s heartbreaking. There is a process that is being worked. If you rescue one boy, another boy will be purchased and put to work. It’s hard for us to make sense of it.
With this new found knowledge, what am I supposed to do? I left Ghana with a mission that I could re-tell their stories. I could tell the stories of the boys on the lake and try to raise awareness. International Justice Mission is coming for you boys. They have a team in Ghana preparing to fight against your injustice and rescue you and get you back into society with your family. It’s a long road, but a clear path is visible. Action will be taken and justice will be served.
Want to hear more about my trip? Call me, let’s chat: 317.513.7070
Want to learn more about IJM and the work in Ghana? https://www.ijm.org/where-we-work/ghana
Thanks for “going into the world” Bill. Your presence provides more hope than you will ever know. It is good news to the poor. Your actions will be the key to liberating the captive. Your prayers are what bring sight to the blind. I am proud of you and thankful for you.
I read your story and find it troubling and inspiring.
Troubling, because it’s hard to imagine the exploitation and slavery of any age, especially children. Children who without choice were born into circumstances of not of their own.
Inspiring, because you and others have chosen to reach out in faith to give hope of a life other than the ‘circumstances’ they were born into.
Bill, may your journey continue to bring awareness, the spirit of hope and faith, and ultimately resolution to those in need.
Blessings to you Bill and those you touch…