Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ghana: Choosing to See

On our 3rd day in Kete Krachi we awoke early to head out on the lake for our first glimpse of the reality of modern day slavery. I wasn’t sure what to expect or how to feel. On one hand there was a sense of anticipation; this is what we had come to see for ourselves. At the same time, a sense of heaviness was also present.

We boarded the boat and began our journey on Lake Volta.

We had traveled all this way, but yet we still had a choice to make. When we shared with locals what our mission was in Ghana the typical reply was, “There is no slavery in Ghana.” They now have a choice to make.

We could pull up alongside boat and after boat and choose to close our eyes and withhold out of fear, anger, insecurity or denial.


Choose to really look, reach out, and offer love where it is absent and learn how to best make a difference.

We pull up. A boy in yellow shorts who is afraid to talk with us. Afraid of what might happen after we leave. I choose to see. To look into his eyes. I see hopelessness.

We pull up. Another boy in pink fleece pants. His body is rigid and his eyes full of fright. He recoils when a hand reaches out to touch him. How many times has that hand reached out to hurt him that he no longer knows touch can be healing? We give him some candy. Hopefully he did not pay for our kindness.

We came ashore on an island just behind another boat as we watched the children run from the boat and hide. They said they thought we were the police. Mud huts with thatch roofs, corn fields and fish net colored the landscape.

Children outnumbered the adults we saw about 10 to 1. The common lie of the slave masters, “These are my children” held about as much water as the sieve-like-boats they worked in.

Many of the children wore tattered clothes or none at all.


We smiled at the kids. Touched and hugged and held as many as possible. Tried to make them laugh even knowing it was so very fleeting. We handed out new shorts and dresses, praying the masters would let them keep this one thing and not take it from them, returning them to the rags.

 Among a group of boys, one stood out. His skin was dirty, his eyes milky and vacant, and his hair turning color from malnutrition. Besides being clearly ill, it seemed as if he had relinquished his spirit.

To see that haunts you. Even if you choose to close your eyes from this point on, that look is seared to the back of your eyelids.

Justice and salvation doesn’t always happen in our timing and we had to move on, leaving him with a pair of shorts and our prayers for God’s protection. We moved on with the hope that there was still the possibility of rescuing other children who had been negotiated for over the last 6 months.

The boat ride back to Kete Krachi was quiet. We were weak from dehydration and lack of food - an infinitesimal connection to what these children endure daily. Who would dare complain? Yet we forget so fast when it’s no longer right in front of our eyes.

I felt sad. I felt pity. I felt guilty.

These children robbed of their innocence and joy were not just enslaved by men trying to survive by fishing but partly by me. By me… when I consume more than I need. By me… when I refuse to share my excess. By me… who lives in a land that tells the rest of the world they must do all they can to “get ahead” and “get more” for themselves.

But not anymore...

I chose to see.

I choose to change.

What is your choice?

1 comment:

Michelle ~ Blogging from the Boonies said...

This hits the heart, that is for sure. I think you are right on. Thank you sharing this difficult post.