24 young boys who were forced to work on Lake Volta, Ghana are now FREE!
Early in the morning of 24th January, IJM and Ghanaian authorities prepared for a rescue operation. The sun rose over the calm waters of Lake Volta, one of the world’s largest manmade lakes. The team was abuzz with anticipation.
Everyone was ready for the day’s mission: rescue the boys.
These boys used their small bodies every day to dive into deep water to untangle nets for their masters. It was dangerous, back-breaking labour, made worse by violent abuse and lack of food and sleep. They dreamed of their families whom they could not see.
But today would be the day this would end.
Right before 6:30a.m., eight boats launched off the shores to look for the boys. When we found them, most were scared—they didn’t know what was happening.
As we pulled them into our boats, the Ghanaian commander instructed his unit to arrest the suspected boatmasters, 16 in all.
The boys are now free!
Watch a video of the boys being rescued and see where they are now.
24 boys were rescued; the youngest was 7 years old. Three had malaria. Several had injuries from work and abuse.
We quickly reassured them that they were now free and safe.
When this new reality sunk in, many began to clap and sing. The youngest boy felt safe enough to fall asleep.
That night, for the first time in a long while, they slept in warm beds.
“It was a new experience for them to live like a child and eat a full meal and sleep a full night and play football and do the things normal kids do. In these small moments, there were little beginnings of transformation,”
ANITA BUDU IJM Ghana Director of Aftercare
Together, we celebrate their freedom.
But the road to recovery and healing will be long. The journey to regain their childhood will be hard. Many of them will need care for years for come.