DALLAS - It's estimated there are 150,000,000 children around the world who live in child slavery, but a Dallas-based organization is hoping to put an end to it in one West African country.
Over 6,000 miles from Dallas, in the West African country of Ghana, Dallas-based Touch a Life is healing and empowering children; the goal, ending child labor in Ghana.
“That is our goal. As kids are being rescued from child labor, bring them to our facility; and we're working on helping them get educated and back into community so we can change the way they live," Touch a Life Executive Director Jan Osborn said.
Osborn says Touch a Life was born after the group's founder saw a picture of a child slave featured in The New York Times. “Pam Cope and her husband, Randy, lost a child when he was 16 years-old, and she was looking for something to do to really make her life meaningful," Osborn said.
That photograph in the newspaper stirred something with Pam, and she made it her goal to rescue Mark, the little boy in the picture.
“So Pam and Randy went over to Ghana, and they were able to rescue Mark and seven other kids. They were called them magnificent seven,” Osborn said.
As it turned out, another woman saw the same photograph of Mark and also set out to save him, only to discover she was too late. That woman's name: Oprah.
“So that got Oprah very interested in meeting Pam," Osborn explained.
Oprah isn't a partner, but years after she helped spread Pam's story, Touch a Life now sends kids to private schools, helps them immerse in art programs and more, all in Ghana.
"We are a place of rehabilitation. We have five houses for the kids. We have house parents, so they have a home. Now, we have over 100 kids who have been rescued. Our first kids are graduating high school this year," Osborn said.
Touch a Life's hope is that the children who have gone through the program will use their education to make a difference.
“So, we are hoping that these first kids that are graduating, that they will go back and help change the process and end child trafficking," Osborn said.
There are multiple ways to get involved with Touch a Life. You can sponsor a child or even an art program. To learn more, visit TouchALifeKids.org.