It is very important to sensitize interior communities on ‘Human Trafficking (H T).’ It is unknown in West Pokot to date, therefore, all the more reason why people must be informed. Sister Anita began with her interpreter, Dinah by asking the group if they indeed knew or ever heard about ‘Human Trafficking’ and they responded saying, ‘it is our first time to hear the word H T and we do not know what it means.’ To help the women understand what happens when a person is used by a Human Trafficker, Sister used a visual aid booklet on ‘Human Trafficking,’ The Ultimate Slavery. Before sharing the story, sister asked, ‘if a family member or a friend came to your compound and offered to take one of your children to be educated would they let their child go with them?’ Some women replied saying, ‘yes, we would trust the person and allow our child to be taken for education, as we are struggling for fees for many children. If the person was known to the family, why miss out on this opportunity. Then sister said, ‘after hearing the story and seeing the pictures; I will ask again how you would respond and if there is any change in your attitude.’ Sister took time telling the story and showing the pictures to the group.
Here you see a picture booklet showing how a woman befriends a family in an interior village who are very poor. Madam Lolo befriends this family by supporting them and buying tomatoes from Linda who sells them to support the family. Her father is a drunkard and does not support the family. His wife is very happy when Madam Lolo offers to educate her daughter Linda, who is very intelligent. Linda’s dream is go to University to be a doctor. The family is unaware that Madam Lolo owns a bar and her daughter will never get to the University. Linda’s family is visited a year later by Madam Lolo who says, ‘your daughter is doing well,’ & they believed her. She says, ‘your daughter asked me to leave you this money.’ Her father replies, ‘Ooh! Thank you so much. God Bless you. How is she doing at University?’ But Madam Lolo ignored his question. Her father is so happy with the money he forgets about Linda, thinking if she sent money she must be doing well. They have no idea Linda is being prostituted to many men and never gets any money, instead Madam Lolo is becoming rich at the expense of this young girl & many other young girls. These girls are her commercial property. A client complains of being infected with an STI by Linda who is treated by Madam Lolo’s doctor. She becomes pregnant three times and Madam Lolo calls her doctor to do all abortions. This leaves Linda very weak and her health deteriorates and she is tested for HIV and is positive. Linda dies and Madam visits the family & informs them, ‘Poor Linda was hit by a vehicle crossing the road coming from University. Don’t worry I will buy the coffin and pay for her burial.’ Madam Lolo does not care for Linda as she is only a ‘thing’ to her and easily replaced by other poor girls in interior villages.
The group discussed the story they had seen and felt for Linda being treated so badly. Their attitude had changed having seen & heard what happened to Linda. They said, ‘Madam Lolo looked such a nice woman when she visited the family, they believed she would assist Linda with her education.’ Their expressions changed seeing Linda being put into prostitution & Madam Lolo treating her so inhumanly. She got an STI infection, had 3 forced abortions and then became HIV positive and Madame Lolo did not get her treated. They were shocked when Linda died and Madam told lies to the family. They said, ‘she was so convincing telling the family, Linda died after being hit by a vehicle crossing the road.’ They would have thought Madam was generous paying for the coffin and funeral if they were Linda’s parents, as they would have had no idea what had happened to their daughter while with Madam Lolo.
The women are now aware of Human Trafficking and know many ways women, children & men can be targeted by a trafficker. Unemployed people who have degrees are also targeted by traffickers unknowingly. Sister also said, H T can entice their child away from school or their friends while playing, with biscuits, sweets or cakes, saying, ‘your mother from Ketiam… asked me to bring you home from school.’ Many times this happens and the child is never seen again. Traffickers are a step ahead all the time thinking of new ways to trick families to give them a child. Some even dress as priests or sisters so people in the village come to trust them not knowing they are fake.
By Sr Anita Hubrich, DoC