“Don’t leave me with this man. He is wicked. Don’t leave us.”
Gideon does not know his age. He cannot read or write. He has never been to school. He was likely only 10 years old when he went to the lake, but he doesn’t know how many years he spent on the lake.
After his father’s death, a neighbour came to Gideon’s home and asked Gideon to help him fish on Lake Volta for four years. Although a contract was signed for Gideon’s work, he and his family never received payment.
Gideon was immediately put to work, and he was on the lake seven days a week, from 4 a.m. to 6 p.m., in back-breaking labour. He ate once a day and rarely received a moment’s rest.
The master and his wife verbally and physically abused him, especially during his early years on the lake when he was learning his job.
In 2014, an IJM investigator set out to measure the scale of slavery on Lake Volta when they had an unforgettable encounter with Gideon, who begged him to take him off the lake.
“Don’t leave me with this man,” Gideon said. “He is wicked. Don’t leave us.”
After a year of planning and searching, we found Gideon and took him off the lake and away from the wicked man who exploited him.
Gideon spent the majority of his life in slavery on Lake Volta before he was rescued. But today, he has graduated from school, earning the “Best in Literacy” award in his class. Now he is working as an apprentice to a mason who has taken Gideon in as a son.
By conservative estimates, there are as many as 10,000 more children just like Gideon on Lake Volta praying for a way to break free from their abusers.