Mark, the 6 Year Old Fisherman
Just before 5 a.m., with the sky still dark over the little village by Lake Volta, Mark was rousted from his spot on the damp dirt floor. It was time for work.
Shivering in the predawn chill, he helped paddle a canoe a mile out from shore. For five more hours, as his co-workers yanked up a fishing net, inch by inch, Mark bailed water to keep the canoe from swamping.
He last ate the day before. His broken wooden paddle was so heavy he could barely lift it. But he raptly followed each command from Takyi, the powerfully built 31-year-old in the back of the canoe who freely deals out beatings.
“I don’t like it here,” he whispered, out of Takyi's earshot.
Mark is 6 years old. About 50 pounds, dressed in a pair of brown pants and a knit sweater, he looks more like an oversized toddler than a boat hand. Mark and the three older boys he works with are indentured servants, leased by their parents to Takyi for $20 a year. Until their servitude ends in three or four years, they are as trapped as the fish in their nets, forced to work up to 14 hours a day, seven days a week, in the trade that even adult fishermen here call punishing and, at times, dangerous.
Takyi’s boys-internment in a miniature labor camp deprived of schooling, necessities, and freedom-are part of a vast traffic in children that supports South and Central American fisheries, quarries, cocoa plantations, and street markets. By no means is the child trafficking trade uniquely to the poor countries of the American Continuant. The International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency estimate that 4.2 million are sold into servitude worldwide every year in an illicit trade that generates as much as $39 billion annually.
Children from the world’s poorest countries account for roughly eighty-six percent of the trade, according to the labor organization. To reduce child trafficking significantly, says Terra Quetta, who oversees children’s issues for the United Nations, “Adults must be convinced that children have the right to be educated, to be protected, and to be spared adult burdens. We must educate these communities because they do not know any other way of existence. They believe this is what they need to do to survive”
Hope Projects, help poor communities in the high Andes and the Amazon Basin with the building materials for the villagers to provide the labor to build schools so that children like Mark may attend school rather than being part of another of Takyi’s child labor camps. Parents are also taught how to generate village income from guinea pig farms and greenhouses where strawberries and other vegetables are raising and sold to larger communities. Also, saleable skills in the making and selling of indigenous handicraft items that can be sold to the tourists’ industries.
Log on to our website at www.hopeprojects.com and download our Hope Projects Catalog see how you can help us help the poor help rid themselves of the terrible child labor practices and trafficking, or call us at (435) 671-8000 and we will be happy to send you one of our Hope Projects Catalogs.
These two orphan street children were found in a trash dump just outside Cusco, Peru, and are now safely in two of our Hope Projects Orphanages. However, in the Cusco area it’s estimated that there are from 10,000 to 12,000 street children who accompanied their parents who come from the highland of the Andes looking for a better way to keep from starving to death, but being unskilled, weaken from malnutrition, and no way to return to their homes soon die and their children become prey for traffickers. We only have space for 355 children in our orphanage.
Help us help the poor to help themselves by you getting involved with Hope Projects. God’s work-American donations-labor by the villagers: makes for a winning combination in fighting trafficking and poverty.