Why donate when you can participate? This question is posed by Harry Kent, programme advisor for Projects Abroad – the volunteer organisation which has launched a campaign to rescue and rehabilitate children sold into horrific slavery situations in West Africa.
Mr Kent is urging charitable souls in Britain – anyone over 16 or under 75 – to become involved in helping to retrieve these young slaves and help heal their damaged psyches , also assisting in recording the tragic tales they have to tell of forced labour and sexual exploitation.
“It’s all well and good to give what you can to charity, but in many cases – and this is certainly one of them – time is worth twice as much,” says Mr Kent. “These youngsters need a human touch just as much as they need the material comforts in life. We need volunteers to liberate them and help them learn to be children again.”
Projects Abroad, the leading global organiser of overseas volunteer work placements, is calling for people to spend a couple of months at special centres in Accra (the capital of Ghana) rescuing and working with slave trafficked children, helping to rehabilitate them into a school and play environment. Volunteers are also needed to help with a project which is recording the experiences of each “slave”, from when and how they were sold, how they were transported, what their living conditions were like and so on.
“Our new campaign aims to target each issue faced by both potential and present victims of trafficking,” explains Mr Kent.
“Volunteers will join slave rescue missions with a Ghanaian organisation (this is generally a peaceful process), help to bring them back to the capital, see them through the rehabilitation process and then return them to their home villages to be re-united with their families and the community.”
Mr Kent says Projects Abroad ensures that the former slave children’s families (or foster families if necessary) receive the means to send the youngsters to school and enjoy a ful-filling life. Volunteers also monitor these home situations and help in local schools.
“It is a highly satisfying enterprise to be involved in. It is shocking for Britons to discover that slavery is still being practiced so blatantly in this day and age, but by joining Projects Abroad you can actually do something about it and see the results happen before your very eyes.”