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Joao Silva for The New York Times Cover 29 October 2006

On Lake Volta in Ghana, Mark, 6, left, scoops water in the canoe while Kwabena, 11, paddles. Featured in a 29 October 2006, New York Times article, they are indentured servants, leased out by their parents for as little as $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 a trade that even adult fisherman here call punishing and, at times, dangerous.  Conscripts in a miniature labor camp, deprived of schooling, basic necessities and freedom--they are part of a vast traffic in children.  Parents frequently hand off children to even distant relatives if it appears they will have a chance at education and more opportunity.  Only in recent years has it become clear how traffickers take advantage of this custom to buy and sell children, sometimes with no more ceremony than a goat deal.  It is estimated that 1.2 million children are trafficked each year.


Oliver Asselin for The New York Times Cover 5 February 2007

Mark, 6, and John, 12, now seen playing and attending school, were among seven trafficked children Pam Cope, a Missouri, USA mother, rescued from forced labor in Ghana and found a home for in an orphanage near Accra.  Cope rescued Mark and the other six children after seeing a picture of Mark (top of the page) and reading an article about him by Sharon LaFraniere in the New York Times.



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