Raul was discovered on a cold, blustery day in August 2009 on Lake Volta in Ghana, West Africa. Lake Volta is the largest man-made reservoir in the world, and it’s home to over 7,000 child slaves working in the fishing industry. When Touch A Life staff members and Ghanaian abolitionists passed Raul’s slave master on the water, he forced Raul to hide on the floor of their tiny canoe. Despite the master’s attempts, Raul was spotted and asked to come out of hiding. Raul was incredibly afraid – his hands were trembling and he clenched his tattered t-shirt while wailing inconsolably. Translators determined that Raul had never seen white Westerners before and, coupled with the anger emanating from his tyrant-like master, he was terrified. The translators and abolitionists found out where Raul lived and asked if they could return the next day to negotiate his rescue. The master appeared to oblige to their request, then quickly moved on.
Twelve hours passed. The abolitionists and Touch A Life supporters boarded their boat and set out to find Raul. He was where the master said he would be, and he was still very afraid when the team returned. Translators realized that Raul had been told that the white people would kill him, an obvious lie that the master told to oppress and frighten him. When the team spoke with him alone, they conveyed the truth – Raul would be safe, healthy, happy, and free in Touch A Life’s care. Raul seemed to relax as he understood what his future could be if his master agreed upon his release.
After hours of negotiation, Raul’s master finally relented and agreed that the child could be transitioned into Touch A Life’s care. Raul was timid at first, understandably so. But when he arrived at the care facility and saw the faces of other boys and girls that he recognized, all of whom had been rescued from the lake, he softened. He began to smile. Raul knew that he was home.
Fast forward three years later and Raul is indeed all of the things that were promised to him – he is safe, healthy, happy, and free. His story is so well known that he is even the poster child for an anti-trafficking campaign in Portugal hosted by some of Touch A Life’s partners!
Thanks to support from donors like you, Raul is living a life of purpose, happiness, and freedom.
By Rachel Johnson from Touch A Life Foundation