Last month I entered 2 photos in a contest sponsored by Studio Altius (www.studioaltius.com). This contest was open to professionals and amateurs alike. I was recently notified that these photos made it to the finals in their respective categories. These were taken on my trip to Ghana, for the Touch-A-Life Foundation (www.touchalifekids.org). The winners will be announced this Saturday night at their open house, but all 80 or so finalists photos will be displayed at Studio Altius throughout December.
Yesterday I emailed the editor of the St Louis Suburban Journal, informing her of the contest, as well as my entries. I wanted to submit a freelance article promoting local business news, and tying in these pictures to show the work that Touch A Life has done, through the support of many St Louisans. They don't accept freelance work, but the editor forwarded my email to Mary Shapiro. She is a staff writer who wants to do a feature story incorporating these photos, the contest, the studio and Touch A Life.
“Heartbreak In Ghana”
This is Thomas. I met him while on a humanitarian mission with the Touch A Life Foundation. Thomas is a trafficked child, who was more than likely sold by his parents. Lake Volta is reportedly home to approximately 7,000 trafficked children, who are forced to fish these treacherous waters. Many children do not know how to swim and eventually drown. It is very common for these children to work up to 18 hours a day. These children are usually viewed as property and business assets by their masters and are not fed well, clothed well, educated or loved. Many times they are beaten severely.
One afternoon, our rescue team encountered Thomas as he was fishing on the lake. After a few minutes of negotiation, Thomas misunderstood the conversation and thought he was being rescued at that moment. He immediately tried to board our boat. At that point, his “boss” (usually a former trafficked child) told him to get back in their boat. He was not leaving. At this instant, all hope faded from his eyes as he rested his tired head on our boat. This is when I took this picture.
A few minutes later the master (via cellphone) agreed to release Thomas the following day. The following day, we made our way to the shores of his remote village to pick up Thomas. He had hope in his eyes and met us at the shoreline. Members of our team escorted Thomas up the worn footpath, leading to hs village, to visit his master and document his release. At that point, his master sent Thomas away and informed us he was not releasing him. We are continuing our efforts for his release.
“Seeing An Abruni For The First Time”
Remote Village on Lake Volta
I encountered this little girl while on a humanitarian mission on behalf of the Touch A Life Foundation, to rescue trafficked children on Lake Volta. Her village is accessible only by boat. Upon seeing me, she shrieked in fear and ran behind her mom. After a few minutes of crying, she finally peeked around her mom’s dress, revealing her bloodshot eyes. I was walking with a young man in the village, who explained she had never seen an Abruni. This is the Ghanaian term for a white person. Throughout this ordeal, her mom smiled in amusement and didn’t skip a beat doing her chores.