I am not a burden, I am just a child
Every thirty seconds, a child is trafficked.1
Recently I had the opportunity to understand just how this evil occurs in Ghana, one of the 162 countries where human trafficking enslaves more than 27 million men, women, and children.2 I met with the Ghana national police special unit on child trafficking, a remarkable group of passionate men and women committed to setting children free, and was stunned to learn how boys eight and older are forced to fish long hours in Lake Volta. Many drown in nets snagged with lake debris. Some boys as young as four years old are forced to bail water out of canoes while the older boys fish.
I have grandchildren that same age! These kids aren't out fishing for fun. They are modern-day slaves. How ironic that Ghana, one of the cornerstones of the slave trade to the USA, England, and South America, now has thousands of child slaves. In fact, there are more slaves in the world today than ever before in human history—a $32 billion industry.3
During our meeting with the special unit, we offered Bethany’s services to provide family shelter homes for the victims that are rescued from trafficking. Ghanian Christian families, recruited and trained by Bethany, will take in these precious children and nurture and love them as their own.
Bethany also works with children and adults who are trafficked for sex. I will never forget seeing more than twenty-five women and young girls who had recently been rescued from trafficking, praying and thanking God. Our dedicated staff was on scene to help relocate them into safe family homes, but they did not want to leave just yet.
“Before we go, we must thank God,” one of the women explained to us.
So what can you do to help put an end to human trafficking?
- Pray for Bethany’s workers around the world who are on the front lines in the fight against trafficking.
- Support efforts to fight pornography and prostitution. Women and children are trafficked to make these businesses successful.
- Consider adopting an older girl. When these girls leave the system, they have few options for survival, making them vulnerable to trafficking.
- Contact your representatives in Congress and urge them to reauthorize the Traffic Victims Protection Act, a key resource in the fight against trafficking.4 It expired in 2011 and Congress has failed to reinstate it.
- Support organizations like Bethany who are verifiably involved in helping victims of trafficking.
As our meeting with the Ghanian police wound down, a poster on the wall caught my attention. Under a haunting photo of a sad-eyed girl were the words, “I am not a burden, I am just a child.” Next to it, another poster spoke directly to my heart: “Only you can protect her. Stand up for what is right.”
On this day of awareness, please join me in answering the call of the prophet Isaiah to “loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke to set the oppressed free and break every yoke” (Isaiah 58:6, NIV).
The views expressed in this post are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bethany.