Friday, November 20, 2009
God has certainly answered my prayers to continue to fuel my discontent. Last Tuesday was a day that was full of unsettling and heart wrenching experiences. It is the short version (if you can call it short). My intent was to go to Tema to visit the house where the 23 kids who were rescued out of slavery from lake Volta live. They were here in August for a week at the art camp and I met them then. Halfway to Accra we learned we were stopping to pick up George (a man who works tirelessly to rescue trafficked children) from the hospital. He was in a serious tro-tro accident six weeks ago and had serious injuries to his leg and jaw. The top and bottom of his leg are in a cast with a brace between, and he has wires holding his mouth in place. He was not the same man that I saw in August. He was using a walker and struggled to get down the stairs. I have heard much about him from those who work with him, and was humbled to meet him. At the hospital we waited outside while they removed the wire holding the top and bottom set of teeth together at the hospital. Then they took us into a particular ward to have a nurse change the bandage on his other leg. Walking into that hospital took the breath right out of me. It is supposed to be one of the best hospitals in Accra, and yet there were cots/beds scattered around the lobby with people laying there in obvious pain. Gauze bandages covered various parts of their bodies with the blood seeping through. The look in their eyes was haunting. I was so overwhelmed. There was a chalk board listing the number of beds in the various units, and the amount of males and females occupying those beds on that particular day. I happened to notice there were more female patients than beds. There was even a column for deaths of the day, set out in red. I was almost in tears the whole time we were walking through. I have seen a lot of poverty and suffering in Ghana but this place really struck me. The surgery room was open to the outside and had the most pitifully equipment. Everything seemed overcrowded and under-supplied. We left and backtracked to the edge of Accra to take George back to his friends house where he is staying to recover. As we sat down in the sitting room he started to tell us the stories of some of the children he has rescued. I have heard some of them before, but somehow they just completely overwhelmed me. I was sitting there in awe of this man’s heart and passion for these trafficked children. And the way that he devotes himself so fully to making relationships and fully addressing the issue of child trafficking from educating the families to creating new ways of fishing for the fisherman. As he is sitting there with his bandages and casts and walker he said that if someone could carry him into the boat at Lake Volta all he needed was his mouth to continue to save children. He said “disability is not inability” that so long as he can talk he can continue to educate the fishing communities and rescue more children. Suddenly the reality of the lake hit me like it never has before and I was just sitting there so broken at his stories. My heart was breaking for these children and families. Families who sell children multiple times because they have no money, children who ran away from cruel masters, only to get sent back. George said he wanted me to go to the lake with them sometime. I really would like to, although I know it will be utterly devastating. You can’t see kids in that condition and walk away the same. My spirit was just flooded with emotions and ache for the 7,000 children enslaved on Lake Volta to fishing masters. I praise God that he is using people like George and the organizations that he works with to rescue these precious children. We left from there to drive to Tema to see the children’s home. When we showed up it became apparent that there was some dissension that had arisen between several of the organizations working together with these particular children. I don't want to say much, except that it was painful to see division amongst people who claim the same vision for these children. This world truly is broken. My spirit was just wrecked at seeing many of examples of this brokeness manifested on Tuesday. I am still trying to process everything I heard and saw. I must say that I am thankful that we serve a God who sees and hears the cries of the suffering. The "God who sees me" as Hagar describes God in Genesis. I take hope in knowing that the world is in the process of being redeemed back to Him, and that I can take a small part in that.