Student Siblings Shed Light and Hope on Child Trafficking

As the world continues to advance at a rapid rate in terms of human interaction, it may be hard to believe that there are still countries where child slavery remains a prominent form of employment. Fortunately, Rider University is home to two students working to combat this horrific situation.
Monday, March 12, 2012

Siblings Rebecca Grossman ’14 and Adam Grossman ’14 of Metuchen, N.J., are active members of Breaking The Chain, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization created to end child trafficking in impoverished regions of Africa by building schools, educating villages, and providing slave owners and parents alternative ways to make a living.

“Breaking the Chain started off when a teacher at Metuchen High School read an article about child trafficking in Ghana and decided to start a fundraising project for his political institute classes,” Rebecca explained. “By the time my brother and I were seniors there, the fundraiser had grown larger and a student suggested that we even try to raise enough money to build a school.”

According to mhsbreakingthechain.org, human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal activity in the world today, with a global annual market of $42.5 billion, requiring awareness and attention every single day. The students at Metuchen High, including the Grossmans, were ready to help.

The class hosted 5K runs, dinners and even won a Cablevision charity champion competition to generate funds for the effort. With more than enough money to accomplish their goal, Breaking The Chain set out to make a difference in the lives of the child victims, as well as the volunteers.

“That summer, after we graduated, I was approached by my teacher and was asked to be on the board of directors to turn it into a new organization,” Rebecca recalled. “So what started off as a project could very well be what I end up doing for a living.”

Rebecca made her first visit to Ghana from February 17 to 25, where she visited rescued children, spent time meeting those in the process of being rehabilitated, and oversaw the building grounds for the school. So far Breaking The Chain has rescued more than 40 children, and with the newest school scheduled to be up and running soon, that number will increase.

Children there currently have to walk four miles to and from school each day. The building is made of sticks and a thatched roof, and includes just one classroom, a few benches, and a single chalkboard to be shared by children of all ages.

“As an organization, we knew what to expect once we were in Ghana,” Rebecca said. “However, I think we all really grew with the experience. Prior to the trip, only one of the board members had actually been to Africa. Previously, it was difficult for him to relay his emotions and for us to fully understand the situation and the dynamic of the people. Now that three of us have gone, it’s so much easier to understand exactly what the situation is.”

The new school will be built in the Ghanaian village of Awate Tornu, constructed of cinder block and metal. With space for six functional classrooms for children ages 5 to 14, this project alone will ensure freedom and better education facilities for 19 children. 

“The most gratifying feeling during the trip was actually being able to go to the village and see the schools and meet the kids and their families,” Rebecca said. “I didn’t realize what a huge effect we’d had on them, but it’s a huge change for so many people.”

The organization is now in the process of raising money to complete the school, while also trying to sponsor and build a new home for one of the girls they have rescued. Once they accomplish those goals, Breaking the Chain will not only maintain their relationship with this village, but hopes to expand their services to serve areas of need beyond Ghana.

“I can’t even describe all of the lessons I've learned on the trip, but it definitely fueled my desire to help people and to travel more,” Rebecca said. “I have so much more to do, and one of the greatest things I realized is that when you have ambition, be proactive. It can really have an impact on people.”

Through people like Rebecca and Adam Grossman, and organizations like Breaking The Chain, hope is given to victims who do not have the means to help themselves.

“Going to Ghana was of the most life changing experiences I have ever gone through,” Rebecca said. “I’ve realized that there is a huge world out there, and I now view things from all different perspectives without judging a situation at first glance. I want to do things like this for the rest of my life, and I am so excited to see what the future brings.”

For more information about human trafficking or Breaking The Chain please visit www.mhsbreakingthechain.org, or contact Rebecca Grossman at grossmanr@rider.edu.

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Rebecca Grossman ’14 visits with a rescued child during her recent trip to Ghana.