child slavery in africa The 11-year-old child I sponsor did not know that child slavery is happening in his own country — to children just like him.

As his sponsor, I did not know I was helping prevent this from happening to him.

Ghana’s history has long been tainted by slavery. It’s still being tainted today as children throughout the poorest regions of Ghana are sold into slavery by parents or relatives in an unimaginable attempt for sheer survival. It’s the choice of feeding a few at the expense of one.

Except these children aren’t like my 11-year-old friend Sam. He is a Compassion child. Sponsored children receive the vital resources that not only help them to overcome poverty, but to avoid such desperate situations that would leave a parent with little choice but to sacrifice one of their own children.

It wasn’t until Sam urged me to come to Ghana that I understood the close relationship between extreme poverty and modern-day slavery.

Through research, I repeatedly saw how poverty is at the root of slavery, and in turn perpetuates the cycle of poverty. A child slave not receiving sufficient nutrition, health care, education, protection or even love will not develop into his or her full potential.

If he or she survives slavery at all, the future often looks grim, with the cycle of poverty keeping him or her trapped as a slave or eventually as a slave master.

Worse, this isn’t simply a situation of financial poverty, but of spiritual poverty. Without the gospel’s teaching about the value of children, without the hope of a Savior, these child slaves are engulfed in a suffocating darkness.

An innocent child is sold into slavery by his or her family in a desperate attempt to be able to afford the resources that Sam now receives through the Compassion program:

Clean water. Food. Education. Medical care.

The provision of hope itself.

The mere thought of my beloved Sam suffering the same fate as those children is unimaginable.

I know now that his sponsorship helps protect him from slavery, but what about the children who aren’t protected?

In addition to sponsoring children in Ghana and elsewhere, I felt the call to do something for the children currently outside of the Compassion program in Ghana.

Through fundraising efforts, God provided $30,000 for resources in the form of classroom space, housing/shelter and care for children rescued from slavery in the Lake Volta region of Ghana.

Even though I was unable to prevent them from having been enslaved in the first place, I was able to take part in the rescue of two child slaves. These former child slaves, along with the other rescued children, will have all they need to reach their full potential.

Just like my Sam.

It’s interesting looking back now how natural the progression was from sponsor to abolitionist … I now see that I was a preventative abolitionist all along.

As a sponsor, you are too.

Compassion Ghana currently has over 25,000 children enrolled in the sponsorship program, with plans on growing that number. That means many more children and families protected from slavery. Let’s help them meet that goal.


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  1. Feb 20, 2012
    at 8:25 am

    AMEN! Thank you, JD!

    • Mar 13, 2012
      at 9:16 pm

      Thank you for coming with us along this journey!! <3

  2. Sarah
    Feb 20, 2012
    at 1:14 pm

    JD, Great article! I live in Richmond VA which is in the process of creating a new national slavery museum. I’m wondering if they would consider including a section on the current slave trade – especially as West Africa was the origin of most of the slaves brought to the Americas in colonial times. The National Holocaust Museum in DC does something similar – they educate about the horrors of Nazi Germany but also have expanded it to incorporate examples of genocides occurring today. Having a section in the slavery museum on the situation in West Africa today would be a great way to bring attention to it and inspire people to change it!

    • Mar 13, 2012
      at 9:31 pm

      I can not imagine a slavery exhibition/museum that would exclude the current slave trade and human trafficking crisis, as it is worse now than it has ever been in the history of mankind. I often thought, ever since I learned about the slavery in Ghana, how years ago, people were forced out of Ghana to become slaves elsewhere, tragically exported, and now, their own people are locked within their own borders under similarly inhumane conditions. It’s devastating on every level.

      I hope the museum also touches on the horrors of the chocolate/cocoa child labor/slavery in West Africa as well. Given that North America creates a lot of demand for chocolate, it’s important for consumers to be aware of the human cost of that demand.

      I will do some research on this museum in Virginia — I hadn’t heard of this project until you mentioned it! Part of me applauds their effort, because awareness is crucial in the abolishment of slavery, however I can’t help but think of a museum as a place to capture, share and study the past… and slavery seems all too present today to be on display this way. I am eager to see their approach and whether or not they will include a section on prevention too! I’d think it’d be a perfect spot for a Compassion event!

      Thank you for taking the time to share this information — it’s exciting to see these efforts made!

  3. Laura Dorsey
    Feb 21, 2012
    at 9:58 pm

    Hi JD, I recognized your boy as soon as the page loaded!
    Great article, thank you for writing it! Are you back from Cameroon yet?

    • Mar 13, 2012
      at 9:17 pm

      That boy is well known these days, isn’t he? Any word from Stephen since our trip to Ghana?

      Yes, I’m back from Cameroon, and beginning to journal the journey! It was very difficult and wonderful, all wrapped into one.

      • Laura Dorsey
        Mar 14, 2012
        at 1:54 pm

        Welcome back, and yes I have received one letter and two pictures. The letter was written December 22nd by a social worker for his project and it was a short paragraph thanking me for a family gift. The pictures are of Stephen and his Mom holding chicks that they purchased, and another of them and 3 other siblings gathered around a ‘table top refrig that they bought. Each one is holding shoes and clothing also. No smiles, very somber. Prayer is asked for Stephens’ father, who was sick. The letter had lots of blanks and the script seemed to be written hurriedly. No mention yet of your visit in November, I hope that you have received a letter since you have been home; perhaps we will find out more in the coming months. Did you get a letter from a project facilitator recently? I received a letter from Kwesi Cyriaano, who is facilitator over 10 projects, I think. I was glad to get this, it was well written and very informative. There is information about the Methodist church that the project partners with and I learned that every child is given a Bible, that there are 25 registered children at the project (this shocked me because I had been told months ago that there are 175 children at this project, and they are not on the US site anymore). I also read that tours for the children were arranged last year and that the children visited Kakum National Park and Cape Coast Castle. I don’t know if Stephen was able to go. Did you get this very same letter? There is a paragraph about the rainy season, the poor drainage , flooding and the potholes in the roads which make it difficult when families have to evacuate and have no place to go. Much to continue to pray about. I hope that we can see a letter from a pastor one day, posted on OC.
        Glad that you are back safe. Hugs, and God bless you!

  4. Kathy
    Mar 7, 2012
    at 3:46 am

    Jolaine is such a blessing, not only to the children of Ghana, but to all of us close enough to her to be allowed to participate in her journeys from our places on the sidelines. God lives in each of us; it’s through such unselfish pouring out of this love to others that Jolaine helps us learn what is meant by unconditional love. Jolaine, you are His treasure, and I thank Him daily for allowing me to be a witness to your journey! Love you!

    • Mar 13, 2012
      at 9:20 pm

      You’ve never been on the sidelines… you’re always by my side, walking life with me, and I thank for His provision of you, your love, support, encouragement, and understanding.

      You are loved!!

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