Deep under the jungles of Ghana, sweat soaked teens crawl through tunnels like ants, searching for faint veins of raw gold.Several hundred feet above, guards from the mining company patrol a vast concession, looking for any trespassers bold enough to dare come on their land. This is the world of the “galamsey,” the thousands of Ghanaians – many of them mere children – struggling to evade death and arrest to eke out a living as illegal gold miners. In the south of the country, Justice Afekah has just quit school to tempt his fate in the deadly practice, hoping to earn quick cash to help support his father and go on to technical school. But over the course of six brutal weeks, he learns first-hand the harsh reality of the dangerous work, and must make a difficult choice about which path to stake his future. In the north, Maxwell Durroh has been compelled by his father to leave school and join him at the mines. But when James Bingo, an activist with Afrikids – a child rights organization – tries to bring him back to school, Maxwell must confront both his family and a leader in the community in order to fight for his education.
Every day in Ghana, thousands of children are compelled to work in the dangerous pits, facing poisoning from the mercury used in the refining process or death from pit cave-ins. Through the stories of Justice and Maxwell, “The Money Stone” delves into the dangerous world of small-scale mining, a vast and controversial local industry that provides the livelihood of millions across the globe. Dramatic verité footage brings the viewer on an incredible journey through the mines in Ghana, exploring some of the most pressing issues facing international development today through the eyes of two bright and enthusiastic teens. Nearly one-quarter of the world’s gold output is estimated to originate from small-scale mining, yet few know at what cost this precious metal is obtained.
THE MONEY STONE is the recipient of the Roy W. Dean Los Angeles Film Grant, a New York State Council for the Arts grant, and a Brooklyn Arts Council Grant. Please visit our SUPPORT page to see how you can help us in the final stages of bringing you this important story.