There’s a pile of us blogging today about The Mercy Project, a non-sectarian effort to free children from slavery in Ghana. I have no affiliation with the project myself, so if you decide to support it financially, do your own due diligence. But I think the project deserves attention as a model for serious anti-slavery efforts.
Why does slavery persist? It is difficult to maintain the unbridled hatred that inspires forced labor camps, Nazi-style. Over the longer run, the humanity of the slave is undeniable; to calmly take lifetime ownership of another person requires the unshakeable certainty that somehow, for some reason, we simply must have slaves. To be convinced it’s an unavoidable fact of life, one of those regrettable difficulties we must chin-up and endure, hand in hand with long work days, mosquitoes, blisters — all that we suffer in this fallen world.
In Ghana, parents relinquish their children in desperation — the alternative is death. [My own former-slave-state’s motto seems to particularly apt. Probably not what the founders had in mind.] The fishermen on Lake Volta who use the children as slaves are in a similar situation: I need this free labor, or I can’t stay in business. The Mercy Project’s method is to think up a village-scaled sustainable new business project that eliminates the financial need for slaves, and then to partner with a particular village to coordinate an emancipation day in conjunction with the implementation of that new opportunity.
[There’s then a process for helping the newly-liberated former slaves to recover from their experience and to rebuild their lives back home with their family of origin, with family assistance to prevent re-trafficking.]
The reported success of the Mercy Project’s first initiative suggests that given any viable alternative, the local slave-owners really are willing to move on to some better business model. You can read about their second project-in-progress here — same model, slightly different details.
So that’s the Mercy Project. Take a look.
Thanks to Heather Hendricks for coordinating the giant blog-a-thon.