A Champion in the Fight Against Child Labor

Posted by Carol Pier
March 1, 2013
Fishermen Haul a Net in the Fishing Community of Chorkor in Accra, Ghana

The warm waters of Lake Volta in eastern Ghana support local fishermen from the small town of Kete-Krachi, which is perched on the edge of the lake. If you were to stand upon the shore, you would see numerous wooden boats bobbing on the waters with two or three fishermen in each, trolling for the day's catch.

The lake is where local fishermen earn a living for their families, but it is also a destination for thousands of trafficked children. Sold by their parents in exchange for food, these children work 20 hours a day casting nets. Many are forced to dive into the lake's dangerous waters to wrestle nets free from trees; far too often, they dive in but never resurface.

Dismayed by the plight of these children, a schoolteacher in Kete-Krachi named George Achibra took action. He began to keep track of the children he saw working on the lake, befriending them and learning about their lives. One such child, 9-year old John Arthur, first learned of "Teacher George" from other local children and ran to Achibra's house in the night to escape his master. It was in the care of Achibra and his wife that John felt as if he had "real loving parents."

With dedication and bravery, Achibra negotiated the release of hundreds of child laborers, including John. He also founded the Partnership for Community Development, providing the children with shelter, schooling and health care after rescue. And he has raised awareness among area employers about the trafficking of children to work in the fishing industry.

That is why we honored George Achibra with the U.S. Department of Labor's 2012 Iqbal Masih Award for the Elimination of Child Labor. Through his ongoing work and leadership, Achibra has given hope for a better future to many children trafficked to work in Ghana's fishing industry. He is an example of the incredible difference one person can make.

The Department of Labor selects a recipient of the Iqbal Masih Award annually, which honors those who have taken extraordinary steps to combat exploitative child labor wherever it exists. The award is named after a Pakistani child who was sold into slavery at age 4, escaped at 12 and became an outspoken public advocate against child exploitation, even helping free other children from slavery. If you know someone who has made a real difference for some of the world's most vulnerable children, I invite you to submit a nomination for next year's award.

Learn more about the Iqbal Masih Award and efforts by the department's Bureau of International Labor Affairs to combat exploitative child labor at www.dol.gov/ilab. To subscribe to updates about the Iqbal Masih Award, send an email to iqbal.masih.award@dol.gov.

Editor's Note: This entry also appears on the U.S. Department of Labor's blog.

Comments

Comments

Gabriel L.
|
Canada
April 15, 2013

Gabriel David L. in Canada writes:

The US is one of the Country that brought the Sudan govt.and the then SPLA, to the round table that ended up in South Sudan as a new Country, But I have noticed how the US faile South Sudan, the US allowed the govt.in Khartoum to Bom, part of South Sudan, and it abandon the table and let the AU to handle the rest of the issues,i.e Abye. at leese help South Sudan, to build Air Force, and give them Amre to defend the Country from the air force of Khartoum.

Gabriel L.
|
Canada
April 15, 2013

Gabriel David L. in Canada writes:

Help South Sudan with Arms to defend It selfe from Khartoum,Because if Khartoum sees South Sudan with Jet Fither,and air base it will make the Khartoum Govt. think before it send its plane to the South

Rinta M.
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India
June 11, 2013
Relevant post. Child traffickers should be rescued.

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