So yesterday I went to the beautiful village of Ekumpoano together with 25 trafficked children for a reunification ceremony with their parents. It wasn’t only kids, parents and me there but IOM staff, journalists from TV3 and Joy FM, policemen, the Minister of Women and Childrens affairs,local MPs and municipal politicians, the Chief of Ekumpoano ( a surprisingly young,goodlooking guy)and probably over 1000 villagers.
The returning children, many smallish due to malnutrition and hard work, had been sold by their poor parents to work in the fishing industry in Ghana and were three months ago rescued by IOM and sent to rehabilitation. Now they were to be returned to their communities.
It was a hot day and we were late. The white bus with the kids stopped in an alley and kids, blue bags and bottles of water filled the village square. The ceremony started with an opening prayer 3 hours later than it said on paper (and probably only I believed). I thought it was a very good idea to have an acctual ceremony to mark this ‘second chance’ event in these 25 childrens lives. Through the rescue program, the kids will recieve free schooling and supplies which will make them more likely to finish primary school than their peers in the village.
Still, the ceremony made me think about central problems with aid. Where do we start? By giving some children a second start? What about the 500 children watching the event living with equally poor parents (read:mothers – since the fathers often are absent)? What did the villagers think of the ceremony (half in English, half in local language Fante) – educational on human trafficking and childrens rights or that it was a fun day when some big cars came to the village? Is it fair to raise these issues and not come with an alternative?
After the ceremony the invited guests and IOM staff were given something to eat and drink. When I walked back to the car, kids and old women asked me for money saying they were hungry.
Here’s an article from an earlier reunification ceremony.