Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Issues Affecting African Children #1: Trafficking Children-- or Protecting Them?

A scandle has erupted in Chad, central Africa, over the past week. Members of a French charity called L'Arche de Zoe (Zoe's Ark) have been arrested on charges of child trafficking. Reportedly, they took nearly 100 children from the Chad/Sudan border, dressed them to look injured, and attempted to smuggle them to France, where numerous families waited to take them in. These families had paid several thousand dollars to Zoe's Ark, though most have claimed they were to be hosts, not adoptive parents. Not only were the children all in relatively good health, but many of them were not actually orphans. The children never left the country, and efforts are being made to reunite them with their families. The arrested charity members claim they were saving the children's lives by taking them away from a potentially volatile situation near Sudan. (For more information, click here.)

The question I'd like to ask is this: was this simply a case of greed and child trafficking-- or an attempt at mercy? These children were stolen away from their families, the charity members even (according to BBC's Africa Today podcast) lying to the parents to get the children. Families in France paid large sums of money, essentially adopting these children illegaly. And yet, the people under arrest claim they were doing everything they could to save these children from a possible violent, painful death. On the border between Chad and Sudan, these likelihood must be realized.

So, all you blog lurkers out there, I'm asking you to make yourselves finally known. What do you think: trafficking or protection? Any thoughts on this issue are welcome, as long as no one attacks anyone else. I'll post my own thoughts in a few days, after a few of you have posted responses. This is an issue that comes up across Africa, not just in Chad. Let's try for an intelligent, thoughtful dialogue on this issue.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sankofa Mbofra Fie

Sorry, it's been a while since I posted! I've been very busy getting the volunteer groups together, and working out all the details. But now, I've got a minute, so I thought I'd post about one of the orphanages we're going to be helping. They are called Sankofa Mbofra Fie (Return to your Roots Children's Home), and they are located in Eguafo, near El Mina and Cape Coast. It's a fairly new orphanage, within the last few years. Here's what their Facebook page says about them:
"Sankofa Mbofra Fie is a children's home established in 2006 by David Kwesi Acquah and Helen Martin. Located in rural Ghana the organisation provides free education, meals and shelter to 200-250 children whose families may have otherwise no other option but to turn them out onto the streets. It is also hoped that Sankofa Mbofra Fie can also function as an agent of social change in the village promoting women's and children's rights. Here goes!"

Both Helen and David are wonderful, caring people, and we're excited to be working with them next year! I'll give some updates on our projects after our first volunteer orientation tonight! Here's some pictures, too!

From the top: SMF children getting lunch. The nursery class meets in a church building. Class in session in the bamboo school house. The bamboo school David built in Eguafo when the church got too small; this is now also too small. An SMF student enjoys school.