We interviewed nearly 40 children over several days, listening and recording heartbreaking stories. Sometimes the children cried. Sometimes we cried. We knew that, at the end of the day, they would have to go back to their masters.
Included in the group was a little boy who looked familiar. He was very sick with a high fever and symptoms of malaria. He had been beaten that morning because he told his master he was too sick to work. Then he had to work anyway.
It was only after we returned to our
volunteer hut and compared photos that we could confirm that the boy,
Joseph, was the child from the photo snapped nearly two years earlier.
Then, more miracles started happening. Chiefs in the mountain village of Tafi Atome granted us land to build a children's boarding home and community development center in their village. It is far from the view of the lake, and far from the children's masters. Children will receive a safe place to sleep, three meals a day, psychological care and medical care, education, vocational training, arts education and all of the hugs they need!
We were traveling with another boy, Joshua, who was once a child slave himself. We asked him for name ideas, and together we came up with "Melor Vinyewo," which means, "I love all of my children."
We hope to have Melor Vinyewo open and ready to take the first 16 children by Christmas 2013, but we have a world of hurdles to pass through first. We have already obtained all of the necessary permits required by the Ghanaian government. Now we have to raise approximately $100,000 to build the home and resource center.
Once we have identified the children, we have to trace the history of each one of the children to make sure they don't have a loving mother wanting them back. Then we have to go to court to obtain custody of each child who qualifies for rescue.
But those aren't the only hurdles. We have to find at least one couple with a strong background in raising children and an understanding of traumatized children willing to serve as house parents in the home for a minimum of two years.
We also have to raise an estimated $100,000 to build a house ... a home ... for these very special children.
When we left Joseph and the other children behind, we told each one of them to be patient. We would come back to help them.
And we will.