This summer, I (Ellie Mullins) went to Doryumu, Shai-Hills, Ghana, West Africa. I went with Adventures in Missions for a one-month journey with twelve other girls. While in Ghana, we worked with the Cities of Refuge Ministries (CORM). CORM works with the International Justice Misson (IJM) to rescue children from Ghana’s fishing industry, a form of trafficking on Lake Volta which is one of the largest man-made lakes in the world. The lake is home to thousands of fishing boats with child workers, mostly young boys ages 3-10. Fishing is pretty much a way of life in Ghana, so many people don’t see that there is anything wrong with it. The parents send their children to work on the lake for four cedis, the equivalent of 1 USD a day. The conditions on the lake are horrendous. The children are submerged in the water for a large portion of the day and their skin develops a condition that inhabits the surface of the whole body with sores and boils. There are parasites and other diseases that can come into the bodies of the children. There are also eels and dangerous trees in the water that cause eye injuries. The children are given 1-2 non-nutritious meals a day, and they are often unclothed. CORM believes that this is NOT how life should be for these children. After the children are rescued, they are sent to the CORM compound where they live, rehabilitate, learn about Jesus, and are simply children. The children go to school on CORM’s campus at a private Christian school called Faith Roots International Academy. The ages of children do not correspond to their grades because the children were not in school when they were working on the lake. The grades they are placed in depend on test results when they arrive at CORM. One of the children I got closest to is named Moses. He is 16 years old and in a 5th grade classroom. The children also do not know how old they are. When they were trafficked, they didn’t have a way to keep track of how much time had passed, and many were so young that they didn’t know their birth date. The children receive a new birthday when they arrive at CORM. The date becomes the day that they were rescued, and the year of their birth is determined by physical examination. The ages of the children often prove to be inaccurate.
At CORM I was a third grade teacher’s assistant. I taught class a couple of times, but mostly I graded papers and created relationships with the children in my class. The school is for the children that live at CORM. It is also open to the community which creates an unknown, as we do not know what kind of home life the community kids come from. This was the hardest aspect of the trip for me. I had a little girl in my class, Lily, who would turn in her tests after 2 minutes and go back to put her head down on the table. Lily was a house slave for a family that barely let her rest. The kids were allowed to nap after they had completed their work, so this was Lily’s strategy for getting the rest that she was deprived of. The education system is very corrupt and it was hard to stand by and watch. There are a very few children who have parents that actually have an education and care about their children’s studies. There are some children that excel, while others lag further and further behind. Many children are not given adequate time at home to study because they are forced to work. There is not enough help to catch these children up, so they get frustrated at never knowing what is happening in school and usually they drop out. While in Ghana, I heard the voice more clearly than I ever have before. I went on this trip to discover what international missions looks like for me, and God gave me that answer. I know that this is the life that I am called to and I know that it is at CORM in Ghana. I’ve never felt more called or more useful to the Lord’s work in my life. The biggest need that I saw while at CORM was the psychological rehabilitation of these kids, and that is something I could help with after I graduate with my Psychology and Sociology degrees. I feel as though the Lord took every desire of my heart and put it in that one place. CORM is my new home, and I long to go back there, living out the Lord’s plan for my life and serving those kids.
You can help support this ministry by going to http://www.cityofrefugeoutreach.org/
~ Ellie Mullins