Alumni save children from slavery in GhanaPosted October 31, 2012
Alumni Chris and Stacey Field ('06) are working through their nonprofit organization, Mercy Project, to save child slaves in Ghana, West Africa. The husband-and-wife team have saved many children from the cruelties of slavery, and their most recent efforts led to the rescue of 24 children in the fishing village of Adovepke.
Mercy Project began with Chris' first trip to Ghana three years after he graduate from ACU. Chris met Tomas, one of the 7,000 child slaves in the country, and founded his organization upon arrival back in the States.
Chris and his team recently rescued 24 trafficked children in Adovepke. "This is a day we have been working toward, praying for and laboring to achieve for more than two years," says Field. "To walk out of that village with those precious children, and to know that they were now free, and could be kids again was a more incredible feeling than I could ever describe."
Experts estimate that 7,000 to 10,000 children in Ghana have been trafficked to work in the fishing industry. Most of them come from rural and impoverished communities with poverty-stricken parents who struggle to feed them. These parents often agree to "rent" out their children to fishermen from faraway villages, believing they will gain the chance to learn a trade, possibly attend school, and eat a small amount of their daily fish catch. However, the children are usually forced to work 12-hour days, seven days a week, leaving no time for school or other pastimes.
All 24 of the recently rescued children were from Adovepke, where Mercy Project has been working for more than nine months. The process began with conversations about economic development and child trafficking and ended with a village-wide meeting, in which Field addressed local fishermen who were willing to give up their trafficked children.
Field asked the adults in the crowd to raise their hands if they had been trafficked as children. More than half the adults raised their hands. "Thank you," Field said, "for being unselfish. Thank you for giving these kids an opportunity you never had."
The rescued children were taken to a Ghanaian-run rehabilitation center where they will receive medical care and psychological counseling, and begin their formal educations. Many of the children will sit in a classroom and sleep in a bed for the first time. "The joy on their faces when they hold their first pencil, draw their first circle, or learn that their name is made up of letters from the alphabet, is amazing to behold," says Field.
Chris, a graduate of the Department of Bible, Missions and Ministry, serves as the executive director of Mercy Project, and Stacey, a graduate of the Department of Teacher Education, uses her skills with children to serve those rescued. When they are not working in Ghana, they live in College Station with their two young children.