Karibuni sana (very Welcome) to the Launch of our First Newsletter. This comes to you at a very critical time for our world and all our countries, none more so than in Africa. In Kenya we will share with you how Covid-19 is affecting us and in particular how it is impacting on the victims of human trafficking.
The advent of Covid-19 (other-wise called Corona virus) has ushered in an unprecedented situation in Kenya and around the world since the beginning of 2020. With thousands initially; and now millions reported infected by the virus around the globe, many States effected restrictions of both movement and interaction at all levels of social life.
But first we must update you on the long journey we have come since I first held Awareness talks for our Health Volunteers in MMM, Mukuru kwa Njenga – a large informal settlement on the East side of Nairobi, in 2006. Literally we were born in the slums. Sadly these slums are the main ‘hunting ground’ for traffickers as they seek to lure the most impoverished and desperate young people in our society. This work particularly in slums continued for a number of years before the Kenyan Government even held preliminary talks on Human Trafficking (HT). Eventually, in October, 2010, the Act was signed into Law.
First Training of Trainers
In August, 2010 we held our first “Training of Trainers” (ToT) in order to increase the capacity of people reached through these newly trained ToTs. There was an instant peak in Workshops given and it was a very satisfying breakthrough. In the intervening years I worked in co-founding a number of organisations to Counter HT. It included one for Youth, an NGO, Religious Women & Men, my own Congregation, Medical Missionaries of Mary (MMM) and most notably now we registered “Counter Human Trafficking Trust – East Africa” (CHTEA) in August, 2018.
Talitha Kum Training
Having co-founded “Religious Against Human Trafficking” (RAHT) in 2016 we knew this would eventually lead to our taking RAHT beyond Nairobi to the dioceses and counties of Kenya. RAHT is composed of male & female Religious so, we saw it wise to ‘insert’ ourselves under the ‘umbrella’ of the “Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya” (AOSK) and the “Religious Superiors Conference of Kenya” (RSCK). CHTEA is a valued member of RAHT since 2018 and CHTEA staff have been co-opted in to a number of working task groups.
In July 2019, RAHT an affiliate of Talitha Kum, the world body of Religious against Human Trafficking organised a regional (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Italy) Training of Trainers’ workshop in Nairobi. CHTEA was involved in the preparations and the eventual workshop delivery through presentations and rapporteur services. The training was headed by the Co-ordinator of Talitha Kum, Rome office, Sr Gabriella Botelli. This was a major milestone in the development of RAHT and it raised CHTEA’s profile ahead of other conferences of religious and non-religious within the East-Central African Region.
The Santa Marta Conference.
“Santa Marta Group” is an alliance of international police chiefs and bishops from around the world working together with civil society in a process endorsed by Pope Francis, to eradicate human trafficking and modern day slavery. The Pope describes trafficking as “an open wound on the body of contemporary society”. The group was formed in April 2014 and was literally instigated by Pope Francis himself. The group commenced annual conferences to consolidate efforts on counter HT in different regions of the world
This very dedicated body held their Second Regional Conference for Africa, in Nairobi 1 – 3 October, 2019. Both Francis Mutuku Nguli (CEO, CHTEA) and I gave a presentation on that occasion. The theme of our presentation was “New and emerging issues in Human Trafficking” We focused on a number of them but the one which drew most interest was “Surrogate motherhood” We will explore this further with you in the stories we present in this Newsletter.
MMM East Central Africa CHT Conference.
Last year I came up with the idea of holding a 4-day Training Conference on Counter Human Trafficking for the members of my own Congregation: Medical Missionaries of Mary (MMM) in East Central Africa from 19th – 24th April, 2020. This has received tremendous support from the entire leadership of MMM. I began preparations well ahead of time and everything was in place even to my own ‘closing speech’ at the final Mass when participants would receive their
certificates. Then early March, it became increasingly clear that the said Conference should be deferred due to Corona virus, it was a painful decision but I knew it was for the greater good and that at a future date it will be possible to do this training.
Trafficking of Women, Youths, Children & Men
Human Trafficking (HT) is the vilest trade on earth in addition to being the most lucrative. The Global trade is a multi-billion dollar industry second only to the arms trade which also makes it the most violent industry on earth. It results from a huge demand for purchased sex. Trafficked persons are shipped all over the world to work in brothels, hotels, bars, lap dancing clubs and in red-light districts. Except for their services, the victims are largely invisible and are regarded as perishable goods, mere commodities to be sold and re-sold repeatedly for as little as $50. In our modern world today when they are no longer useful they can be replaced, discarded or used to lure new victims. This is very important to understand because unless we rescue and assist victims they can be used by their traffickers to recruit others
The vast majority of victims are trafficked within their own country as labourers, domestic servants, farming, fishing, begging, herders, etc. All these are among the lowliest paid jobs and for longest hours. With children they may only receive one meal daily and are deprived of an education, socialising with peers, missing out on their families, etc. They are also sexually exploited within their work place and are rarely allowed out.
Who Thinks they Know of Human Trafficking?
Human Trafficking is the ultimate slavery and a crime of horrendous proportions. Most of us can only guess but never get more than a hint of the level of degradation, abuse and torture experienced by its victims on a daily basis. Human trafficking is much more than facts, it is a modern form of slavery not previously experienced in our world. With the internet and modern communications on our doorstep the recruitment is swift and efficient. Then the cargo (read human) is dispatched.
We in CHTEA, pledge ourselves to dismantle a phenomenon the size of a global pandemic virus! Our efforts and mobilisation depends on all of us. That is why we are urging you to garner a wider readership for us and assist us where you can with any donations. In the years I have pursued this ministry the heaviest and most expensive item we have is the rescue and care of victims. But we cannot abandon the most ‘sinned-against’ human persons in their hour of greatest need.
May God protect and save us all in these days of Covid-19.
We pray for you & yours at this critical time in human history.
Mary O’ Malley, MMM