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The children begin the long journey back to Ghana's central region to be reunited with their families. Many of them haven't seen their parents in years.

Before the fishing children can return home, they are taken to a rehabilitation clinic where IOM counselors teach them English, as well as basic nutrition and hygiene. They will stay at the clinic for two months. "You can't exactly drop a kid back off into their villages because the parents are the very ones who gave the children up in the first place," Lisa says. "They have to be educated about the fact that sending kids to these [fishing] villages is wrong."

Once the children are settled, Lisa and Eric go in search of their families. With only photos of the children to guide them, they ask villagers for help. Finally, they track down one boy's mother, who says she sold her son to a fisherman so that she could afford to take her husband to the hospital when he was deathly ill.

Lisa and Eric also find the mother of another boy, who was sold into slavery—along with two siblings—when he was just 4 years old. She says she had no other way to support her family after her husband died.

After learning about her son's dangerous living conditions, Lisa says she could see that his mother was embarrassed and full of regret. "I truly don't believe that the parents had any idea of how their child was living," Lisa says. "They are promised not only money, but the fishermen promise that they'll take care of the kids. ... Communication is very limited, so they really just don't know."
FROM: A Special Report: The Little Boy Oprah Couldn't Forget
Published on February 09, 2007


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