Children forced into slavery risk lives deep-dive fishing in Ghana

·2 min read

Lake Volta, Ghana — The sunset over Lake Volta masks the sinister depths below. Rickety vessels are filled with young boys, trapped — like the fish they catch — and forced to dive deep to free entangled nets.

Driven by poverty, thousands of children are fishing there — some work in the family business, but many have been sold into modern-day slavery.

The United Nations estimates one in 10 children — about 160 million kids — is forced to work. Many are doing so in horrifying conditions.

Noah, whose full name is not being published for safety reasons, was one of those children sold into slavery. When his mother died, his father took out a $500 loan to pay for her funeral. In exchange, Noah, who was 8, was supposed to spend 15 years as a slave to repay the debt.

Noah / Credit: CBS News
Noah / Credit: CBS News

"It breaks my heart," Noah told CBS News. "I was unable to go to school."

He escaped after three years of fishing on Lake Volta.

Wallace, who hides his real identity because he's undercover, has saved more than 150 children like Noah for Love Justice, an international charity. CBS News went with him as he did his undercover work.

Wallace said the work is dangerous for children. "It's very bad condition for them," he said. "How deep an adult can go is not the deepness a child can go. So when it comes to that, the child can lose his life."

A trafficker-turned-informant told CBS News that he could buy a child for about $80 and over the last 25 years he bought thousands of children. He said the worst thing he has ever done as a slave owner was "forcing a kid who doesn't know how to swim to dive to the bottom of the lake. They could go down and never come up."

Noah said he was beaten if he didn't do what his slave owner demanded. He now dreams of becoming a doctor, but the first scars that need healing are those inside him.

"God punish him," he said of what he would tell his former slave owner.

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