Monday, September 3, 2012

Mercy Project/Labor Day

Happy Labor Day!

Today Andrew and I don't have to work. We'll be taking the kids to their favorite park, maybe do some swimming, and most definitely have some ice cream.  Today we'll enjoy one of the last days of summer together as a family.

Most people around the world will be working today. They'll be at the check out counter at our local grocery store. They'll be scooping ice cream, monitoring the pool changing room, driving trucks, harvesting tomatoes, picking apples, fishing.

Some of the people working today will be children. Some of the children working today will be slaves.
Mercy Project Ghana

One of the amazing surprises of becoming a family through international adoption is how my eyes have been opened to the world in a whole new way.  I've make connections across the country with other bloggers and mothers of Ethiopian children.  I've read books and articles and histories of Africa that I may not have picked up before Daniel and Lily came home.  Most of the things I've learned on this journey have enriched our lives and opened my mind and heart wider and wider.  Some of the things I've learned have made me weep.

All over the world people are working today without pay, without protection, without recourse to legal or social support.  There are men picking tomatoes in Florida who are locked into dorms at night. There are women being trafficked into the sex industry, here in America. There are children working in mines, picking coffee and chocolate, making sneakers and sweaters.

Today, Labor Day, I'm joining with 100 other bloggers to celebrate the work of Mercy Project Ghana.  Mercy Project works with fishing communities on Lake Volta, Ghana.  The Lake was created 50 years ago by a dam, and is home to many fishing communities.  Over the decades the fishing stock has been declining (as stocks have all across our Earth). This has led these desperate communities to turn to child slavery.  Child slaves are small, require little food and no money.  They don't rebel, and have fingers just the right size for the intricate nets required to fish ever smaller, elusive fish.  Where do they come from? Other desperate families who are tricked into believing their children will lead a better life on the lake.

Why do I care? Why is an adoptive mother now advocating for the end of child slavery? Because I now know, as I didn't fully before, how small the world is.  There are two little children sitting next to me, happily watching cartoons, who were once part of a hungry, desperate family.  If there had been a fishing community trafficker or a chocolate farm "employment" recruiter in their village, instead of an orphanage, they may have ended up one of the children in this video.  This is no insult to their Ethiopian family.  Desperate, hungry people make desperate choices.  Choosing another life for your children because you have no hope for their future with you is a desperate, difficult act of faith. Some families are lucky; some families are tricked.  Some children end up in loving families. Some children end up living in slavery. When I look around my home, I see so many products that may have been picked, mined or produced by slaves, or made by people who are so underpaid and unprotected they may as well be enslaved.  Our world is so, so small.

Today, Labor Day, people are working all over the world.  But this month, hundreds of children on Lake Volta will stop working. They will go to school; they will go to the doctor.  They will be reunited with their families.

Mercy Project has been working with fishing communities to establish more productive, less labor intensive fishing methods. They have been making it possible for these communities to thrive without slaves.  The children will be freed.

See how it will happen here.

Learn more here and here.

This Labor Day I'm celebrating not working. I hope you'll join me.

Facebook: mercyproject

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