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).

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