By Allison Karman, Semester at Sea, Spring 2017

While in Ghana I took a trip with Semester at Sea to an island in Lake Volta. The trip description was very vague in the sense that I didn’t know what to expect from this adventure. After a three hour bus ride from Tema we pull up to this shore where we piled in a long wooden boat and took a trip down the lake to our island destination. The island was something out of a book. The island was about three football fields wide so you could easily run back and fourth from the crazy waves of the Atlantic Ocean to the calm waters of Lake Volta. We slept in huts on the beach with sandy floors, a single lightbulb illuminating the space under mosquito nets. At night we danced and drummed with the locals of the island and other travelers. It was something I will never forget. The next morning we packed up and took a two hour boat ride around the surrounding islands and saw how the fishermen earned their living, admired the beauty of the nature around us and saw how the local rum was made. It was an amazing experience.

On my last day in Ghana I went to an orphanage called City of Refuge. The children who are at this orphanage were rescued because they were sold into child slavery. These children were sold by their parents who were tricked into thinking that the children would be getting an education while working and earning money. The opposite is true. These children were sold to fishermen who made them work long hours in the sun without rest or much water, beaten when they didn’t work hard enough, and forced to dive down into the water to detangle fishing nets and sometimes being entangled and drowned to death themselves. We asked the heads of the orphanage where the children came from. Their response was Lake Volta. Now looking back at my beach experience I remember seeing young children working wherever I turned. It’s a hard thing to process that while you were having the time of your life, the children around you didn’t have a life at all.