Ebenezer was exploited at just 8 years old. He was offered a job to work as a fisherboy on Lake Volta in Ghana. He accepted this offer because he and his grandma were desperate for money. But what he received was not what he was promised.

“My name is Ebenezer and I am 19 years old. When I was just a few months old my father was killed by a witch doctor because he owed them money but would not pay it. My mother also died when I was 2 years old.

My grandmother took me under her wing but she found it difficult to feed me and my other cousins who were also living with her. I felt hungry often. We would eat only once or maybe twice a day. I used to think to myself that I need to go and work so that I can have an education, I always believed that education was key. Sometimes as I would walk alone by myself I would become sad. I would think about how I was an orphan and a burden on my grandmother. I didn’t want to be poor, I wanted to live a better life. I knew that if I could get an education, I could do better things with my life.

One day a man came to the village and said he had work for young boys so I went with him. Those first few days I was so scared. I would dream at night about going back to my Grandma. We used to wake up at 4am each day and then comeback by midday for something small to eat like cassava. Then we would work again until nightfall cut up fish, bait them, put them in the water, collect the nets, bail water out of the boats, untie knots and dive deep. I was 8 years old.

Sometimes the man who owned the boat would beat the other boys with paddles or bamboo on their backs. This would happen every couple of weeks when he got angry. Only once in the four years I worked for him did he do this to me. He beat me because I told him not to hit the other boy on the boat. It was like even though he was beating the other boy, I was the one that was feeling it. He turned around and said, “Fine, I’ll beat you then”.

When we would get sick or hurt we would not be able to go to the doctors. Instead we had to use whatever natural medicine we could find. While I was there my friend was taken for child sacrifice. I remember praying that this would never happen to me. I used to sit by myself and think of my future often. Even if I wanted to leave, I couldn’t – I had no money for transport. I used to pray that God would help me leave that man.

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One day our boat capsized in a thunderstorm and the man who took me to Lake could not operate his business anymore. When my Grandma came to pick me up she began to cry as she realised what had happened to me out there on the lake for those years. She said that if she had realised what was going on she would have never sent me with that man. I was paid NZ $77 for about four years work.

When we got home she approached the local project and they accepted me into the program. Through Compassion, Tearfund’s partner, my sponsor gave me school fees, clothes, medical care and Christmas gifts. It is a big help! The first thing I bought was a school bag and shoes.

When I come back to the Lake I feel sad about how I am with Compassion but so many others are not. I remember the past and I don’t want anything bad to happen to those boys out there. I see boys pulling in nets, not in school. I know those boys are thinking about their friends in school.

I have suffered enough in my life and so I don’t want my family or my children to suffer. I want them to acquire some knowledge so they can lead a better life. One day I’d like to become an automotive engineer.

If not for Compassion, I would be on the river.  But now, if I was to be sent back to the river, Compassion would chase me and pick me up because they know me. Before, I was quiet, but now, I can talk. Now, I have self-confidence. Compassion’s taught me that.”
 
 

Hear the story of the trafficked fisherboys of Lake Volta LIVE at the  Hope More Powerful than Poverty Tour in New Plymouth. See the tour schedule and reserve your free tickets now.

 

A Hope More Powerful Than Poverty Tour 
February 2020

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