COLLEGE STATION, Texas — A College Station-based organization has been top-rated in 2021 by Great Nonprofits for its efforts to help communities come out of poverty.
The “Mercy Project” has been around for 11 years, saving children out of labor trafficking or what they call slavery in Ghana, Africa.
The goal is to free children from slavery while teaching the “masters” how to make a better living without kidnapping children for slavery in Ghana, Africa.
“They have the kids out on the boats untangling nets, there are a lot of trees at the bottom of Lake Volta, so the kids will dive all the way down untangle the nets some of them don’t know how to swim,” said Bre Heinrich, Director of Marketing and Communications.
Heinrich said the founder Chris Field took a trip with a favorite author who was writing a book about trafficking on Lake Volta and took an interest himself, wanting to do something about the situation.
“We make sure they are taken out of trafficking and enrolled in school and back with their families,” said Heinrich.
With social workers and field workers doing the groundwork in Ghana, the nonprofit says the traffickers voluntarily release the kids in exchange for fishing training and aquicultural supplies. As a result, the nonprofit hopes they won’t have to kidnap more.
Law enforcement and government officials are aware of the problem. Still, with over 20,000 kids out there, some of them have families who work on Lake Volta, helping keep the economy stable in the fishing industry. So it is hard to differentiate who has been kidnapped and who hasn’t.
“It’s a little bit more complex in terms of you can’t just go out and take them off the boat and bring them home because the fisherman will go and find more kids to replace them,” said Heinrich. “We focus on the overall problem by working with these fishing villages and the people who are trafficking.”
So far, they have saved over 200 kids. Once rescued the children go through therapy and groundwork crews continuously check in with them. Most of them choose to stay in Ghana, which allows them to go to school again and return to their lives.
“None of the kids has been re-trafficked, which is an incredible role as far as our team,” said Heinrich.
Mercy project officials said this is a very complex problem in Ghana. They have rescued kids as young as four years old.
You can help this nonprofit by sponsoring a kid and following their social media pages.