Child slavery survivor tells story at Grand Valley event

James Kofi Annan
James Kofi Annan
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Abolitionist James Kofi Annan will describe his life as a child slave in Ghana and his efforts to stop the brutal practice, in a presentation hosted by the Frederik Meijer Honors College at Grand Valley State University.

Annan was forced to work in more than 20 villages along Lake Volta in West Africa from the time he was 6 years old until he was able to escape his captors at age 13. He will tell his incredible story about escape and becoming a modern-day abolitionist. He will present ways students, businesses, organizations, and other individuals can take action to help end child slavery.

His presentation, ‘Eradicating Child Slavery and Exploitation in Ghana,’ will be held Wednesday, February 8 at 5 p.m. at Loosemore Auditorium, DeVos Center, Pew Grand Rapids Campus.

Annan is an internationally recognized leader against slavery. He was the recipient of the Free the Slaves Frederick Douglass Award, the Young Innovator for Social Justice Awards, and has spoken about the issue at a TEDx conference and on CNN. He is also the founder of Challenging Heights, which serves as one of the largest anti-trafficking organizations in West Africa. 

Annan’s presentation is related to a service-learning opportunity that is open to Grand Valley students.

The trip will involve seven weeks in Ghana, including two weeks of classroom time in Accra at the University of Ghana and five weeks in Winneba working at Challenging Heights.

During the part of the trip at Challenging Heights, students will assist the organization by engaging in community services projects and observe the holistic approach to rescuing children from slavery. For more information on the service-learning opportunity, contact Janaan Decker at deckejan@gvsu.edu. Study abroad applications are due by February 1.

Annan’s presentation is sponsored by the Frederik Meijer Honors College, the Political Science Department, Housing and Residence Life, Padnos International Office, Amnesty International, Brooks College, and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

For more information, contact the Frederik Meijer Honors College at (616) 331-3219.