The Changing Face of Human Trafficking cases during Covid-19

The unprecedented changed environment due to Covid-19 continues to ravage the core fabric of the society in ways never witnessed before. As at the end of 2019, everything seemed normal in Kenya, until the first pronouncement by the Government on March 9, 2020. It was the Corona Virus pandemic’s first reported case in Kenya and a declaration for schools to be closed with immediate effect. This action was followed shortly by a curfew and a total lock down of some Counties, all of which deteriorated the ability of delivering quality services towards counter trafficking efforts within and outside of Kenya. CHTEA had to adopt new and creative ways of ensuring that all was not lost and below is a summary of four key stories that have since been processed successfully in spite of all restrictions.

  1. ‘Cherry’ (not her real name) in Lebanon

Cherry was trafficked to Lebanon in 2012 by a trafficker who had promised her a white collar job. Once in Lebanon, she was placed at an abusive household to work as a domestic staff. The work environment however turned out to be quite abusive – sexual assaults, working long hours, non-remittance of salary and physical assaults, among others. In a span of about 6 months, Cherry escaped for fear of aggravated abuses, or even death. She joined other Kenyan ladies who were already surviving on the streets of a city called Dekweneh where she eventually got married to an Egyptian man using Muslim rites in 2015. Cherry’s marriage gave forth two children, Malak El Sayed, 4 and Christiano El Sayed, 3. The two however separated in November 2016.

Since their separation, Cherry has lived as an illegal migrant as her visa and work permit expired. She now lives with a group of 4 other Kenyan ladies in a two roomed apartment alongside her 2 children. A group of Nuns had assisted her with upkeep supplies until 2019 when the assistance stopped, exposing Cherry and her children to extreme suffering.

The other challenge for Cherry relates to her two children. Both children are registered under their biological father’s name and this therefore requires the consent of her separated husband. The husband is still in Lebanon and has allegedly been demanding the custody of the children too besides threatening Cherry with serious death threats if she fails to comply.  The situation got even worse after the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic. Increased movement restrictions and social distancing meant that even the few petty jobs became rarer and the mainly Arab population looked down on migrants as the part of the problem

Cherry’s effort to get assistance from the Kenyan Consulate in Lebanon bore no fruit. Instead, she claims to have been met with demands for money and sexual favours to facilitate her repatriation besides a host of other humiliating insults.

Cherry’s plight was brought to CHTEA’s attention by her aged mother, Mama ‘Cherry’ on 9th June 2020. Dorcas had visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where she was only given a number to call or write to since the work environment did not allow for face to face meetings. She immediately proceeded to CHTEA’s office in South ‘B’ where she met with Sr Mary O’Malley (Executive Patron) and Mutuku Nguli (Chief Executive Officer). Mama ‘Cherry’ presented a letter to CHTEA asking for help with following up on her daughter’s case. Immediately after Cherry’s mother left, CHTEA contacted her daughter in Lebanon who further provided important information and documentation to support her case. After cross checking all the information given, there was sufficient ground to embark on the case.

The first step was to write a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) seeking to understand why it had not been possible for ‘Cherry’ to be assisted. Although MFA never reverted, Cherry immediately received a courtesy call from the Kenyan Embassy in Kuwait seeking further clarification of her case and assuring her that all would be well. ‘Cherry’ was further assured that once international flights resumed, the embassy would organize for her repatriation alongside her two children; but this would only be possible if she got enough money to buy tickets. The embassy pledged to work on the documentation of the children.

When ‘Cherry’ got back to CHTEA about the ticket issue, a quick letter was drafted and sent to Talitha Kum (a Rome based Global Women Religious network) with a request to support her with whatever was possible. After back and forth correspondence between CHTEA and Talitha Kum, Cherry’s case was finally picked by the latter and handed over to a Lebanon based Congregation of Sisters who together with an attorney met Cherry on Monday, 20th July 2020 and processed her matter. Cherry had to fill in bio data papers as a means of supporting the validation process to get confirmation of tickets. In the meantime, Cherry is working on regularizing all travel documents for both herself and her 2 children…..the availed attorney is closely involved as well as the Kuwait Embassy.

Cherry’s case is a master piece of how a global system can be activated to effectively support a counter human trafficking situation, during this Covid-19 period, regardless of location.  It is fairly clear that Cherry may be back to Kenya any time as soon as International flights resume in August 2020.

  1. Eunity (not her real name) from Narok

Eunity, a 17 year old girl was trafficked to Mukuru kwa Njenga slums, Nairobi with a promise to a good education and social protection. Although she was enrolled to Njenga primary school, Eunity never quite got to attend classes but instead was assigned domestic chores where she worked very late at night. The trafficker, who was also her aunt brewed illicit liquor in the same house, where she also gave her out to some of her customers for sexual escapades while she got paid for it.

Eunity’s case was brought to light on one fateful night when a community volunteer officer (CVO) noticed a commotion at a very odd hour of the night. Early the following day, the CVO reported the matter to an organisation called Movement Against Child Trafficking (MACT) who recorded the case and sought for help from CHTEA. A joint fact finding mission was commissioned to affirm the facts behind the report.  The team identified the lady trafficker, location of the abuse and the bio data of Eunity’s parents who hailed from Narok County.

The mission also gathered that Eunity’s parents had disagreements over her…….she was born out of wedlock and the foster father did not wish her to live with the rest of the family. On further investigation, it was established that the trafficker had very close working relationship with the Villa Police station, where the matter had previously been reported with no action taken.

The mission also gathered that Eunity hailed from a family of eight from Kajiado County. It was further revealed that the alleged trafficker, Mercy Kwamboka changed the names of Eunity and processed a birth certificate depicting Eunity to be her birth child without the consent of her parents. Eunity had marks of torture on her neck. The abuse matter had first been reported to Villa Police station on 11th February 2020 and booked in the occurrence book.

A CHTEA staff later managed to talk to Eunity’s mother who confirmed that she was not aware that her daughter was going through such mistreatment. She indeed asked if her daughter could be returned home immediately. When this matter was once again reported to the Villa Police post, the police commenced a round of investigations which are reported to have given a warning to the trafficker. Eunity’s case was reported to the Anti Human Trafficking and Child Protection Unit (AHTCPU) who promised to liaise with the local police unit to pursue the matter. It was in CHTEA’s interest that Eunity was immediately placed at shelter as the matter was being processed from the police.

When the promised police action took too long, CHTEA reported the matter to the Police Commander at the Embakasi Police Division where a contingent of 8 police officers accompanied one staff in a vehicle to the trafficker’s location and rescued Eunity, while arresting the trafficker. Eunity was immediately placed under Estella Children’s Home in Kayole as the trafficker recorded a statement. The trafficker was however released on cash bail pending more investigations.

The Estella Children’s Home (ECH) fearing the Covid-19 pandemic ramifications processed a proper return of Eunity to her parents back in Kajiado. Working closely with the Children’s department and the police, Eunity was finally returned to her parents on Monday, 20th July 2020. The parents have since pledged to get Eunice back to school, even though they are a needy family who may need some support to improve their economic status.  The ECH have given a further assurance that they may be in a position to educate this girl and/or enable her avail of an educational facility (vocational college) to boost her chances of becoming a fully independent person and make her own contribution to her family and society.

CHTEA will still pursue the police with respect to the investigations of the trafficker. Together with MACT, CHTEA is willing to offer legal services towards supporting any conviction of the trafficker in respect of Eunity’s abuse.

Kevin (not his real name), the 12 year abused boy

Born to a single mother at Nyanguso, a rural village in Kisii County, Kevin was moved to Nairobi by an aunt who promised to offer both protection and care in 2017. Kevin was registered to join school at a nearby location in Nairobi but shortly afterwards, he was placed to take care of his younger cousins. He used to wake up as early as 4am to cook and prepare them before taking them to a nearby baby care center.  Kevin would then proceed to school at around 10am, long after classes had started.

After several encounters with the school management and subsequent punishments, Kevin felt pressured and he reported the same to his aunt who in return ordered him to stop going to school and instead go and do petty jobs to earn some money for the family. He did odd jobs such as hawking of ground nuts and fetching water for money, among other petty jobs. After a while, he failed to secure any jobs and that infuriated his aunt who descended on him with vicious fights. Kevin eventually escaped one fateful night into the streets and started begging. Village leaders noticed his plight and took him to the local government administration who placed him in a children’s home for better care. While at the shelter, the aunt followed him up and pledged to take better care of him. She was allowed to take him back.

The aunt did not take him back to school but placed him to care for her young children. This did not go down well with Kevin so he deserted the home shortly afterwards and got back to the streets. He was once again noticed by community leaders who again took him back to the government administrator who in turn contacted CHTEA.

His Road to Home & Safety

Kevin was immediately interviewed and it was determined that his parent and relatives had no idea that he was undergoing mistreatment. A return plan was agreed and Kevin was placed at another safe house for two days as travel arrangements were being made. Eventually, one CHTEA staff accompanied Kevin to his village after receiving clearance from the Government with respect to Covid-19. Kevin may have survived the dangers of being infected with the corona virus but his future can only be guaranteed by some economic intervention.

The CHTEA staff who accompanied Kevin made a detailed assessment of the family’s socio-economic status and determined that they seriously needed an urgent economic boost. To this end, CHTEA is evaluating a number of options on how to best support Kevin’s mother in order to restore his life back to school, alongside other siblings.




Key Highlights: 2019


The year 2019 was majorly a turning point for Counter Human Trafficking work in Kenya. And so was the case for CHTEA, whose existence is fairly young but abounds with both knowledge, expertise and experience, dating back to 2006.  Registered in August, 2018 as a Trust in Nairobi, Kenya, CHTEA which is a short form for “Counter Human Trafficking Trust-East Africa” Its registration spurred growth and a sort of revolution within the counter human trafficking sector. Ranging from aligning with national, regional and international networks and institutions to providing leadership on matters of policy and advocacy, CHTEA focused on strengthening the core fabric of developing a clear cross border framework for the regional civil society.

The Year under Review

In the most unprecedented turn of events, the CHTEA Patron and Founder, Sr Mary O’Malley, MMM, travelled to Ireland for a medical check-up in January, 2019.  Her departure created a sort of vacuum as the organisation was still searching for clear direction upon its formal registration in 2018. Even so, the momentum was sustained by the remaining directors, who continued with some of the pre-planned work and sought for some new potential funding opportunities. Sr Mary however returned to Kenya a few months later after she was given a clean bill of health in Ireland.

Activity Overview

This segment is divided into two:

  1. Counter Trafficking Actions
  2. Enhancing the operating environment


Counter Trafficking Actions

This component speaks to “caseloads” and it provides some insights on how the year under review brought some new but more discrete methods of human trafficking to the fore:

1. Two twin boys (Kevin and Denis, 14) were reunited with their mother, Christine, after years of separation. A self-acclaimed barren Pastoress took away the boys from their biological mother and made them believe that she was their mother by virtue of offering them good education. The Pastoress employed the boys’ mother as a farm hand and deployed her to her rural farm in Kitui County where she got isolated from her children for over ten years (as the boys lived in Nairobi with the Pastoress). The boys were aged about 4 years when they last lived with their mother. This case was brought to our attention by a community volunteer officer (CVO) who received a distress call for help from the boys’ mother. The CVO then called CHTEA who advised the mother to come to Nairobi with family support. Meanwhile, her two brothers came and one had a car. We had pre-arranged to meet in the presence of Villa police, Pastoress, the boys and CVO. It was a precious moment to witness the reunion of a mother and her twin boys.

2. Regarding the issue of abused surrogate mothers which CHTEA encountered in early 2018, at total of five victims were rescued from a holding house in the East of Nairobi and one from Mombasa.

3. One victim in particular called ‘Rose’ was willing to tell her story. In her own words “we cannot stay quiet about it.” She willingly availed herself for an interview by the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI) at Nairobi. After hours of discussions, the DCI officers were able to clearly understand how women are currently being used to procure the births of babies whose lives are completely at the mercy of ruthless baby traffickers both in and outside of Kenya. For this operation to succeed a doctor trafficker heads-up the operation. The mothers are desperate slum dwellers who are willing to undergo a high risk pregnancy (the age range was 15 – 42 years old) for cash remuneration to conceive by use of a hormonal injection to bring on an ovulation.  Within hours they are artificially inseminated using donor sperms of Qatari males. The mothers must undergo a mandatory Caesarean Section to give birth. The babies’ documents are prepared in advance of the operation and these newborns are transported to Qatar within days. DNA is performed and if they are a match for a Qatari father/parent, they are kept probably for organ transplantation or medical research. But if it is a Kenyan baby s/he is returned to Nairobi and sold for two million KShs to a childless couple. A total of 8 victims were identified and contacted; though not all cases were conclusively processed. Others shied away from any public attention for fear of what the trafficker doctor might do.

4. Wayua, a mother of 3 got involved with a Ugandan man with whom they had a baby boy. The ‘alleged husband’ eventually duped Wayua to travel with him to Uganda in order to commence proper marriage proceedings. As soon as they arrived in Uganda, the alleged husband’s mother took away the baby boy from her. This case remains unresolved after the complainant went missing, fearing for her life!

5. A young boy aged 6 years was trafficked to Nairobi by his father to be in the custody of his step mother. He was never taken to school as promised before leaving home but he instead became the domestic helper to the step-mother’s children. Seen by neighbors who reported the matter to a voluntary child officer (VCO), CHTEA eventually rescued the boy and returned him to his biological mother at Busia, Kenya. This happened after CHTEA assessed the home condition of the boy’s mother and decided to support the mother to begin a second hand clothing business which has since flourished.

6. CHTEA handled a case involving four trafficked minor Ethiopian boys at Kyamaiko slaughter houses, Huruma, Nairobi. The boys were arrested by police for engaging in underage sex with underage Kenyan school girls, one of whom tested positive for pregnancy. The boys were eventually placed at a Nairobi Government remand home pending home tracing. Working closely with an Ethiopian NGO called CIFA, CHTEA managed to trace the original homes of the boys. Once the case was dispensed with through the courts, CHTEA collaborated with the Anti Human Trafficking and Child Protection unit and working closely with CIFA, the boys were eventually moved back into Ethiopia for family re-unification. A proper plan was made through CIFA to place them into vocational training colleges and guide them to refocus their future out of bondage.

7. In Early 2019, CHTEA entered into an informal agreement with the Tanzanian Police (Anti Trafficking in Persons Unit) to profile thousands of Tanzanian beggars along the streets of Nairobi. Although the exercise was undertaken around May 2019, the data remains inconclusive since hundreds or even thousands more beggars are found in other major towns in Kenya. CHTEA is currently fundraising to carry out a comprehensive study of this cross border phenomenon which has also looped in beggars from other East African countries.

8. In July, CHTEA was actively involved in the return of the first Kenyan victims of human trafficking from Saudi Arabia. ‘Lizzy’ and ‘Ann’ were formally received at the JKI Airport by Sr. Mary O’Malley (Patron) and Mutuku Nguli (Chief Executive) before reunification with respective families. Lizzie’s mother was at hand to receive her at a reception organised for her while Ann proceeded to Kitale, her home town in Western Kenya. A rehabilitation programme commenced in earnest for both and it continues to date. It is a demonstration of how deep seated effects impact is on victims. Ann had escaped a previous trafficking ordeal in the Gulf region but due to the pangs of poverty, she made a second attempt into a different country.  CHTEA eventually absorbed victims into microfinance projects and both have since stabilized their economic situations.

9. During the month of July, CHTEA convened the first group of seven ex-Gulf region-trafficked victims who met in Nairobi to share their experiences. The session was facilitated by a CHTEA trauma counsellor who had previously engaged with all returnees upon their respective arrivals from the Gulf. The initiative created the first (support) network of its kind in Kenya for ex-Gulf victims managed by CHTEA.  A total of 7 victims participated at the meeting which was also attended by a representative from the Transnational Organized Crime Unit (TOCU) of the police. All victims benefited from a small kitty on income generating projects.  We invited 3 other young women who also were being processed by the same agent. They gave up the idea of going to Saudi and we set them up in micro finance.  But the presence of these other 7 victims reinforced the notion that being trafficked invariably end in dire regret and great suffering.

10. A 19 year old Ethiopian young mother, Hamida, (with 2 children) who was trafficked to Nairobi at the age of 13 years was rescued from Kyamaiko slum in Huruma. She had been forced into an early abusive marriage where the husband tormented her with daily assaults and threats to kill. CHTEA rescued her and took her to a safe house in Kiambu County where she has since been enrolled into a vocational college where she continues to train on tailoring while her two children attend a school nearby. Upon completion, Hamida will be supported to begin a livelihood project at a place of her choice in Nairobi.

11. An alleged Zairean trafficker woman lured 2 boys aged 5 and 7 using sweets at the Imara Daima estate, Nairobi. The boys had been using a public pavement to play together as their mother was running a sewing business nearby. The trafficker surveilled on these boys for days before making the final dash to abduct the boys. Unfortunately, she did not have swift means of transport to move them as she attempted to use public transport. The older boy raised an alarm when he resisted boarding the transport and this drew public attention who gathered and sought to understand the truth. The public established that the lady had intended to relocate the boys for unexplained purposes. The public avoided lynching her and handed her over to the police who arrested her and later released her on cash bail, pending investigations. The two boys were saved by a whisker otherwise, they could have been an added statistic either for organ removal or child sacrifice. This case ended after the boys’ parents declined to cooperate with the police in prosecuting the trafficker.

12. The tracks of a lady trafficker operating at the Pipeline estate in Nairobi was discovered when CHTEA went out looking for Brian, an eight year old boy who had vanished from his father’s house at the Mukuru kwa Njenga slums. The trafficker later turned out to be working alongside the police at the Villa Police post, Imara Daima. This matter was later brought to the attention of the Anti-Human Trafficking and Child Protection Unit (AHTCPU) who are currently pursuing the trafficker.

13. A group of seven children were rescued from the jaws of a woman trafficker at the Mukuru kwa Njenga slums while transporting them out of their neighborhood. This only happened after the trafficker’s car stalled in the middle of the road within the slum. Although the police at the Mukuru police post got involved, the alleged trafficker was only held momentarily to record a statement but the matter was never prosecuted…..allegedly due to poor investigations. CHTEA followed up the matter but it proved elusive as no police officer was willing to follow up on the case as an indication of complicity. The matter was brought to the attention of the Anti-Human Trafficking and Child Protection Unit of the police. CHTEA continues to engage with the AHTCPU on the matter post 2019 in the hope that the lady trafficker will eventually be brought to book. The trafficker is alleged to have worked closely with the “nyumba kumi” leadership at the village level who facilitated the entry and exit of the trafficker at will until this fateful day when she got cornered by the public.

14. A young Burundian lady who was trafficked to Kenya in 2016 with a promise for a “marriage” has since remained on here; even as she expresses a desire to travel back. Shantel was trafficked by a fellow Burundian woman who knew her since childhood. The trafficker allegedly arranged Shantel’s marriage to a Kenyan man. Once she arrived in Nairobi, Shantel was handed over to be ‘married’ to a church Pastor who eventually abused her (both physically and mentally) and deserted her after they had a baby; for another woman. The matter was mediated by CHTEA with a promise for the Pastor to regularize travel documents for both mother and child to enable them travel back to Burundi. The matter was eventually reported to the Transnational Organised Crime Unit of the police for further investigations. As at the time of filing this report, the matter was still being investigated.

15. Following a request from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (AHTCPU), CHTEA was able to trace, coordinate and avail a Tanzanian father to receive his two children from a court in Nairobi. The two kids aged 6 and 8 were trafficked by an aunt who lied that she was bringing them to have better education in Nairobi but she eventually sold them to a friend who exploited them until a concern was raised by neighbours who noticed the mistreatment. The whole exercise was almost a ‘mission impossible’ for the AHTCPU until a specialist from CHTEA took up the assignment (upon formal request) and delivered the children’s father within a record 2 days, just in time to be present at the court hearing. The traffickers were found to have a case to answer and their judgement was delivered at a later date. They were sentenced to 30 years in prison.

16. A total of 96 Karamoja girls were finally rescued from the Eastland’s suburb of Nairobi called Eastleigh. They were in a group of almost a thousand other girls who managed to escape from an open ground at the Shauri Moyo neighborhood. The rescue was a culmination of concerted surveillance and effort since November 2019 and the operation was scheduled to take place in December 2019. The actual rescue (of 12th Jan, 2020) of these girls was a major breakthrough and was carried out by a combined effort of both the Kenya and Ugandan Civil Society Organisations (CHTEA and Make A Child Smile, respectively), DCI and police (both Kenya and Uganda). A ‘Kingpin’ trafficker was arrested and has since been arraigned in court. Esther, (herself a Karimojong) the alleged trafficker, was tracked down and led into a police trap through the efforts of CHTEA and her highly trained community volunteers based at Eastleigh and Majengo slums. Esther’s mother was alleged to be the lead recruiter on the Ugandan side of the impoverished Karamoja region.

17. On 15th December, CHTEA rescued 5 girls who were within days to be trafficked to Saudi Arabia at the Majengo slums, Nairobi. Through an excellent effort by a CHTEA community volunteer, the girls were identified after appointed coordinating leader, Mary (not her real name) lost the telephone gadget which contained the contacts of other girls. Mary visited a cyber café to seek the services of tracking the phone in Eastleigh. The cyber café coincidentally happened to belong to the volunteer who immediately noticed Mary’s nervousness. He probed a little further to know why she seemed so anxious which revealed that her colleagues’ contacts and the trafficker’s number were in the lost phone. The volunteer managed to bring the girls together and took them through a human trafficking session which led to a subsequent major meeting at CHTEA’s office. We gave a ‘mini’ workshop   where they were exposed to more educative materials such as audio, visual, video and whatsapp messages which originated from trafficked victims in the Middle East. One rescued victim was also invited to share with them about the reality of trafficking to the Middle East. They all shed tears on seeing the videos and hearing case stories.

Eventually, they were all placed on income generating projects (micro finance) of varied types according to their abilities and have since flourished. It is therefore important to acknowledge that trafficking happens during normal social life and that community empowerment becomes key in identifying and promoting further action against human trafficking



The volunteer managed to bring the girls together and took them through a human trafficking session which led to a subsequent major meeting at CHTEA’s office. We gave a ‘mini’ workshop   where they were exposed to more educative materials such as audio, visual, video and whatsapp messages which originated from trafficked victims in the Middle East. One rescued victim was also invited to share with them about the reality of trafficking to the Middle East. They all shed tears on seeing the videos and hearing case stories.

Eventually, they were all placed on income generating projects (micro finance) of varied types according to their abilities and have since flourished. It is therefore important to acknowledge that trafficking happens during normal social life and that community empowerment becomes key in identifying and promoting further action against human trafficking


Enhancing the Operating Environment


  • At the beginning of 2019, CHTEA led a team of researchers from the Religious Against Human Trafficking (RAHT) to the Kyamaiko slaughter houses at Huruma, Nairobi, where Ethiopian boys and girls as young as 6 years old work for pittance as their masters reap big profits. Under the cover of darkness, the team visited the slaughter houses at 4am one morning in February where their worst fears were confirmed – that underage children (some as young as 6 years old) from Ethiopia had been trafficked in large numbers for exploitation. A report was prepared and shared with the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, Religious Superiors Conference of Kenya (RSCK) and the Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya (AOSK). CHTEA also contacted the ‘People Daily’ newspaper who ran a full two page documentary (on the trafficked children of Ethiopia) to coincide its release with the 30th July, which is the United Nations World Day Against Human Trafficking.  With support from RAHT, in October, 2019, CHTEA did a phase 1. Training of Trainers for 33 community based volunteers and human rights activist from four surrounding Locations of Kyamiako, Kariobangi, Ruaraka and Mathare.  The trainees formed four teams – committed to giving further awareness workshops in this highly populated suburb of Nairobi.
  • Strategic meetings and contacts were made with the following government institutions as a way to enhance collaboration and partnership: (i) Counter Trafficking in Persons Secretariat under the department of Children Affairs within the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, (ii) a draft MoU was submitted to the Inspector General of Police, (iii) continued good collaboration with both the TOCU and AHTCPU, (iv) had several meetings with the Head of Interpol, Regional Bureau, (v) held a meeting with the Head of Anti Human Trafficking from Tanzania, (vi) met Children Experts from the African Union, (vii) held discussions with anti-human trafficking Experts from the East African Community Secretariat, Arusha, Tanzania.
  • CHTEA organised and facilitated two key Training of Trainers’ sessions: one at Singida, Tanzania and another at Kitale Catholic Diocese in Western Kenya. The certified training of trainers courses culminated into another training of schools’ Principals from all Catholic sponsored schools within the Kitale Diocese.
  • CHTEA participated in a number of Civil Society Organizations’ (CSO’s) forums/conferences within the year. Such included: (i) a Regional CSO’s conference in Kampala, Uganda, (ii) a National CSO’s Planning workshop in Nairobi, (iii) talks by UK visiting experts, (iv) launch of “Just Good Work” by the Anglican Development Service Desk, (v) participated at Freedom Collaborative online trainings and launch of Liberty Shared platforms for global data service, (vi) Online trainings and webinars by the Better Migration Management & Stop the Trafficking Kenya (BMM/STTK), (vii) participated in meetings and activities convened by both STTK and RAHT (networks), among others.
  • CHTEA was instrumental in supporting the Training of Trainers course which was sponsored and facilitated by the Talitha Kum (a Rome based Global Catholic network of Women Religious groups around the world). During the training, CHTEA offered a facilitator and a rapporteur to the event.
  • Once again, CHTEA offered a facilitator during the 2nd Africa Santa Marta conference held in Nairobi 1 – 3. October 2019. Santa Marta Group is a Vatican based institution which brings together Catholic Bishops and Heads of Police Chiefs in various parts of the world. During the conference, CHTEA’s role also included evaluating the final communique statement before it was adopted by conference delegates at the plenary.
  • Following an invitation by the East African Child Rights’ Network (EACRN), CHTEA’s Chief Executive Officer facilitated a Kampala East African Community conference/training which brought together a combination of civil society organisations and the investigative arms of the police services (Kenya and Uganda), Immigration, IGAD, and Interpol. The conference achieved big mileage by way of providing clear guidance of areas of cross border human trafficking, reviewing the Kampala Declaration and the various other regional protocols.
  • Following a journalists’ training programme (Kenya and Uganda) by the EACRN, the Chief Executive Officer of CHTEA delivered a paper entitled, “Do No Harm” Principle as a basis for strengthening media reporting within the East African Community (EAC) region. This was followed by a guided investigative detour of Nairobi by the New Vision journalists from Uganda regarding the Karamoja trafficking of underage girls. The detour led to the production of a comprehensive feature of the Karamoja girls’ trafficking Vis a Vis the Somalia-Al Shabaab link in the New Vision newspaper dated, 1st December 2019.
  • “Make a Child Smile”, a Uganda based NGO adopted a CHTEA intervention framework for the Karamoja girls. The framework proposed a joint rescue plan between the two organisations (CHTEA and MACS), the Uganda police and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations in Kenya. The framework paper, which was developed by CHTEA was shared with the Karamoja Members of Parliament who in turn used it to bring up the matter at the floor of the Ugandan Parliament. The ensuing debate necessitated the creation of a Parliamentary Task Force on Karamoja whose work was completed towards the end of December 2019 and the subsequent report to be presented to Parliament in early 2020.
  • During the year, CHTEA had a chance to supervise 4 Graduate (Master’s degree) students who were researching on projects related to human trafficking. The students were properly guided and exposed to case studies which befitted their lines of study. This was in fulfilment of their master’s degree programmes.
  • The Kilifi and Isiolo counter human trafficking networks were also set up during the year and have continued to play a pivotal role in both awareness and support to specific cases within their respective Counties. These were besides the continued strengthening of the Singida, Tanzania platform (“Jukwaa).


Why a World Day on Human Trafficking?  To grasp the significance of a Day set aside by the United Nations (UN) on Human Trafficking (HT), we face the most gigantic, pervasive and lucrative business in our world.   Human Trafficking is a multi-billion dollar trade with major profits.  It is second only to the arms trafficking which also makes it the most violent industry on earth.  The root causes of Human Trafficking thrive best in an environment of corruption and greed, ineffective legal institutions, poverty and the demand for purchased sex.  READ MORE  

Human Trafficking is the ultimate slavery and a crime of horrendous proportions.  Who thinks they know of Human Trafficking?  Most of us can only guess but never get more than a tiny hint of the level of abuse, degradation and torture experienced by its victims on a daily basis.  I have met hundreds of victims and I am very familiar with the scars and burns (including trafficked men) some of them so horrific that they remain unprintable.   Human Trafficking is much more than facts, it is a modern form of slavery not previously experienced in our world.  With internet and modern communications on our doorstep the recruitment is swift and efficient.  Then the cargo (read human) is dispatched. Trafficked persons are among the most dehumanized and discarded of all people on planet earth


Human Trafficking is found in every country of the world and even the most remote areas are not immune to the presence of recruiters who then direct them to agents.  The agents are the ones who receive a lion’s share of the ‘kill’.  In an African country the wife of an MP can be the director of such an agency/company.  We have learned from the CID that once the victim has reached the other side, all these records are destroyed so there is never a paper-trail to track down and prosecute such an agent. For one victim the sums accrued by his/her agent would take care of a typical Kenyan family for a whole year.  We speak of what we know and have experienced first-hand.  We in CHTEA must daily face these complexities of Human Trafficking with honesty and courage.  We do so willingly and speak on every occasion to create Awareness on the machinations of traffickers.  The numbers of people we have reached speak volumes and we could do much more if we were not crippled by scarce resources.  This is particularly true when we rescue, provide shelter, rehabilitate, sometimes educate and/or livelihood, counseling, medical and sometimes legal services.  But victims rarely agree to follow the legal route as they know it will most likely jeopardize the lives of close family members.


  2017 2018 2019
Workshops 433 1.600 628
Number of Persons Reached 10,542 27,721 17,064


In our modern world, Human Trafficking is the size of a global pandemic virus and in order for our efforts to succeed, our mobilization must be comparable in size to that of the phenomenon itself.  Slavery officially ended in 1807 but today it thrives on such a scale that the ‘dizzying’ heights and depths of its penetration and perpetration leaves none of us in doubt as to the task which lies ahead of us.  Therefore we all need a big dose of courage to move forward because we will be judged if we do nothing.  To recollect the words of the British anti-slavery champion, William Wilberforce (the leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade: 1759 – 1833), “You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know”


Launch of Banner to Commemorate World Trafficking Day 2019.
Parade through the Mukuru Slums with Residents Joining the Marchers


This is an area of very serious concern to us, and we propose to delve deeper into this phenomenon in subsequent issues of our Newsletter.  At the height of the Covid 19 crises in Italy, the Pornhub were sending free premium subscriptions throughout the pandemic time.  Now they have extended this offer to the rest of the globe.  The move comes amid efforts from authorities around the world to stop the spread of Covid 19 as people are encouraged to stay home in self isolation and home-schooling.

Pornography is a form of violence against women and a means of promoting misconceptions of gender, human worth and dignity.  Prostitution is closely allied to pornography, it cheapens human sexuality and furthers a culture in which people are bought and sold.  It is not a victimless crime.  The real victim is our self-worth and our ability to genuinely value others.  Pornography thrives in a sexualised commercial culture and no society is immune to the messages given about human worth and dignity.

The Drivers of Demand

These are all the major drivers of Demand and millions of young women and children are its victims – the age gets younger and younger with a preference for the pre-pubertal child.  Coupled with this demand is the free availability of pornography on all online sites – in my own research, I found that it is currently being accessed by children as young as 7 years old, the peak is at 11 years old.

The Physical & Emotional Toll

In youths exposed to porn sites it is a growing process and they become bonded to it very quickly.  It is in effect one of the most serious addictions of our age, although this is never seriously discussed or seen as an issue like we view drugs and alcoholic addiction.  In young adulthood there is a combination of greed and lust, even with intense psychotherapy these images can never be deleted from the mind.  It is almost as if these images are inscribed on the frontal lobe of the brain and for the person addicted to porn these images flash across the mind at any future sexual encounters.  Addicted person may have such a serious absorption in porn that all other concerns of life, careers, studies and job are lost not to mention the loss of family when spouses come to realize they were in fact married to some kind of ‘weird person’

According to the author Gail Dines “Pornland” there are 20,000 new Porn images posted on the net each week.  Each image of children viewed in porn sites means a REAL child has been abused in this grotesque manner, it is possible even to hear the cries and screams of a child being abused. This ought to stir our minds and set new standards for our children – for them and for our generations, yet to come.

Pornhub Destroys

Porn on tap is the last thing we need in any country of the world let alone in our country. Yet sadly during this time of Covid-19, opportunistic marketers at Pornhub are trying to push increased usage as people are indoors finding themselves desperately looking for entertainment options.

Let’s draw a line in the sand TODAY and send the message to Pornhub that enough is enough. Their soul-destroying content is not welcome in our country.

Kindly click the link below to read more; READ MORE HERE

(We will continue to offer further reflections on this topic in our next issue)

2nd CHT-EA Newsletter

Dear Friends,

‘With Our Hearts Burning we Journey’ I found these words in a small prayer card and it seemed to sum up what I wish to share with you.  For me it’s exactly what seems pertinent to our current state of the world and each of us in our own little world too.  On our life’s journey in early 2020 we are all affected by what we could never have imagined possible – we are propelled through the journey of Covid 19 pandemic.  Like it or not there is a deadly virus around and a highly contagious one too.  At the workplace it has highly impacted on people’s lives, thousands, even millions are suddenly out of work and nobody was prepared for this sudden change.  It also seems to hold a link to the following: I quote below from “Singing to the Dead”

God is not a fairy godmother and hope is not a belief in happy endings.  It is a willingness to accept the human journey; complete with its dangers, its equal potential for happiness or disaster.  And this is what I take with me; courage for the journey.  A willingness to take the risks most likely to bring life, to walk the unknown and dangerous road in search of joy, even though we can see from where we stand that this is the road through fire.  There is no other road, no such thing as safety.  None.  Certainly our hearts are not safe.  Not so long as we love, not as long as we remain vulnerable to the painful possibility of hope.  And the only consolation is, if we are not safe we are not alone.  In the end, in a world as small as this one, we all carry one another’s future in our hands

“Singing to the Dead” by Victoria Armour-Hileman.  Page 257

In the work we do in Counter Human Trafficking we take very seriously the thrust to carry another’s future in our hands.  Currently, we are carrying the story of a Kenyan woman who is in Lebanon since 2012 – it is a long story and this is only detail we can share with you now as we do not wish to jeopardise the ‘difficult paths’ we are using for her safe release and passage back home.  In such situations we rely only on the Power of Prayer.

Ethiopian Youths

We are seeing that even though the pandemic is so endemic in all our countries here in East Central Africa the same deadly story of Human Trafficking is painfully played out.  Traffickers devise new tricks all the time – so we rely strongly on the support you can give us.  Just last week we learned that people are taking others as ‘flesh’ to sell.  At this moment we are also working on the case of 18 energetic, able bodied Ethiopian youths with high hopes and a willingness to help their families to rise out of extreme poverty. But instead found themselves locked into one room in a Nairobi slum.  For days on end they pondered their fate.  With a meagre diet of two slices of bread and water only morning and evening they worried what impact it will have on their health.

Eventually, a few of them escaped and fortunately met one of our most committed Human Rights Defenders.  She made all the right connections and through us, hopefully, the Transnational Crime Detectives may crack the leads we have given them to ‘out’ a deadly trafficker who specialises in trading these youths.   He sells them on as Slaves to become the property of another who will guard them with shackles.  Not surprisingly, this is our Vision “A world free from the shackles of Human Exploitation and the prosecution of every woman or man who dares to take up this evil task to the detriment of the most vulnerable in our society”  (CHTEA Vision Statement)

“Hope is not a Belief in Happy Endings”  (How ‘Alice’ Coped).

We have to hold onto Hope despite the ‘worst case scenarios’ which come to us daily.  Let me introduce you to ‘Alice’  When I met her for the first time she said in the course of our conversation “I am still young, 25 years old” I smiled and she went on to say: after Form/4, I received a scholarship to Kampala and graduated with a B Comm, then I proudly came home at Christmas.  In the New Year, a lady at our parish (who runs a business between Nairobi and Kampala), told me of a friend who owns a hotel in Kampala.  She explained that he needs an accountant who would be his ‘third eye’ on the local (Ugandan) staff.

But it turned out we were 9 young women aged 16 – 23 years old, engaged in bar work and sex favours.  There were 7 of us in the night shift alone.  Then in an explosion of tears she said “clients could come any hour of the day or night” I knew the wound was deep in her soul.  Alice made her escape by a miracle.  Early one morning a Kenyan man came in for breakfast, he was completely shocked to see her behind the bar.   Briefly, he handed his car keys to Alice saying where it was parked outside.  In two hours they were over the border, he dropped her at her parents’ home.   She had to concoct a story that she was robbed in Kampala.

We journeyed with ‘Alice’ through counselling, provision of shelter and a means of income.  Today, she runs her own shop and ATMs for 2 local banks.  She has reached the point where she is able to share her story and is particularly good with youth and senior primary level.  Of ‘Alice’ I can certainly say that she, more than any other person I know took “courage for the journey” (“Singing for the Dead”).

Survivors of Human Trafficking.

We carry hundreds of victims of HT or as I prefer to call them Survivors – the dictionary describes them as ‘extraordinary people who carry and overcome extreme difficulties in their lives’ these are people I have come to know over the years in working Against Human Trafficking.  But Covid 19 took another toll on them which presented with difficulties which were far from easy.  We had set them up with resources to be self-sufficient in caring for their family’s needs but with the sudden drop in the economic situation the majority of them were unable to cope in meeting daily needs.  The approach we took to boost their incomes was to add a supplementary item/s to what they were already doing.  The addition of selling sweets, sodas and/or cigarettes can enable them to supplement their income to a fairly normal level.