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  • Writer's pictureAlly

Finding Creative Freedom

Ghana. A vibrant country in West Africa bustling with high energy, wide-mouthed smiles, and lively song and dance. Despite outward displays of joy, however, Ghana holds a dark secret that is nestled away deep in the eastern region of Volta.

Lake Volta, in the Volta region, an artificial lake that sustains Ghana’s thriving fishing industry and provides the country with hydro-electric power. But what many don’t know is that Lake Volta is home to over 49,000 children who are sold into forced labor as fishermen on the lake for as many as 17 hours each day.

Sadly, most of these children are voluntarily sold by their parents out of desperation and poverty for as little as one US dollar. Many of the parents were manipulated into such heinous crimes, or were fooled into giving up their child based on empty promises. Once sold, the children are then forced to work long hours under hazardous conditions with very little food and sleep, and many are physically and emotionally abused.

The Touch a Life Foundation works directly with local abolitionist groups in the Volta region to rescue formerly trafficked children from the treacherous confines of modern slavery. The children are provided with food, shelter, and education at the Touch a Life Care Center in the central Ashanti region of Ghana, and are cared for by host parents.

Many of the children at the Touch a Life care center struggle with the after-effects of trauma, abuse, abandonment, and neglect from the experiences they endured while working on the lake. Our goal at Touch a Life is to provide these children with holistic, long-term rehabilitative care that addresses their basic, as well as emotional needs. We believe that every child deserves a chance at a bright future.

At Connor Creative Art Center at the Touch a Life site, we offer the chance for our children for emotional healing through art therapy. Art therapy utilizes creativity as a vehicle for self-expression, communication and insight, and can address the cognitive, social, and emotional needs of people of all ages and backgrounds. For children, art therapy is often a non-threatening and safe way for them to explore their emotions and identities.

Studies on trauma therapy have shown that traumatic memories are stored in non-verbal areas of the brain. In order to alleviate the pain and anxiety associated with traumatic events, it helps to address sensitive topics through non-verbal or sensory methods. Art has the capacity to do just that. Trauma-based art therapy allows the affected person to slowly tap into painful, traumatic memories and work through them by engaging in the artistic process at their own pace, and with appropriate support from the therapist.

At our Connor Creative Art Center at the Touch a Life site in Ghana, our children deepen their understanding of themselves and work through their challenges through their unique artistic processes. By participating in art directives such as book-making, fabric doll-making, and exploration of various materials, the children are given the space and supplies to tap into their painful pasts with support from one another. The art center is a safe haven for many of the children and a place where they can relax, play, be creative, and be a normal kid.

Every child deserves the chance to grow into a healthy, productive adult. Our goal is to provide the children at the Touch a Life Care center with appropriate tools and support to help them heal and prosper. We strive to offer children who once had no freedom, the chance for creative freedom through art therapy.

The kids at TLV enjoying the art center
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