Reasons I love me some Jason Mraz: Seriously catchy music. Smart lyrics. The signature hat. Sings with The Muppets. Gives a damn about equality. And — randomly awesome tidbit from Wikipedia — owns an avocado farm.
The newest reason? Jason Mraz cares about fighting slavery. Recently, the singer traveled to Ghana with Free the Slaves, where he spent five days learning about the issue firsthand from former child slave James Kofi Annan. Annan, who was enslaved between the ages of 6 and 13 by Lake Volta fishermen, helms a rescue boat to help children in similar situations. Between 8,000 and 12,000 children are enslaved on the lake, beaten, and starved while forced to do dangerous work, such as disentangling underwater nets from debris.
In many cases, local parents are duped into believing their kids will be moving on to a better life, provided with basic needs and an education, when the unthinkable opposite is true, and they are anything but cared for. So Annan also speaks with communities through his Free the Slaves-funded program, Challenging Heights, educating parents about trafficking and helping to find their children. Once rescued, kids are given a much-needed chance to heal from their experience as slaves at the Challenging Heights shelter.
While in Ghana, Mraz accompanied Annan on his rescue boat, witnessing up close the reality of child exploitation and the harrowing rescue process. The singer describes Annan as "Frederick Douglass, Indiana Jones and Mother Theresa combined" and hails him as a personal hero. You can read his first journal post on the trip here.
Mraz, who was also recognized as the Surf Industry Manufacturers Association's 2010 Humanitarian of the Year for his work with Life Rolls On and other charitable organizations, sounds like he's already quite passionate about fighting human slavery, which can only mean good things for the promotion of our cause. As Free the Slaves' co-founder Peggy Callahan noted, "The movement to end slavery really needs more voices, but they really need to be authentic voices, people who really do care about an issue." She believes Mraz is one of those people, and it will certainly be interesting to see what abolitionist tricks he's got up his sleeve — or under his hat, as the case may be.