What can i bring?

The wounded face of Christ pleads with me – what does it say?  How can I minister in this broken space of human life?  He speaks “Remain in my love” Jn 15: 9.  I know I can’t give it out unless I am ready to be broken as bread for the world.

God is tortured, sin abounds – victims of Human Trafficking are treated as slaves – used and abused.  Innocence is destroyed if only we can prevent it.  Poverty reaches back into the deepest recesses of our remote areas to the most appalling slums on earth and certainly in Africa.  Our capital city (Nairobi) in Kenya is a fermented mix of the slum poor struggling to survive on Euro 1. Per day.  In such an environment the poorest ones are prone to grasp at any small hope of survival, the ‘push’ factors drive them on relentlessly.  The logic which makes sense to them is reasoned thus ‘surely going on a flight to the Middle East can only bode of something worthwhile’  

The Bitter Reality

Sadly, in less than a twenty-four hour period of departure from the International airport, the outcome turns extremely bitter and very cruel.  Passports and phones are confiscated on arrival by the bosses of the intended place of employment. There are no options given. ‘Julie’ is effectively stripped of her freedom and she becomes the ‘property’ of others.  She is in a foreign land but who cares?   With no salary, Arabic, phone, or passport she is merely a utility in a house of strangers.

As I watch her sorry state, I secretly pray, let the waters of life gush over this poor one who is God’s daughter.  The way ahead is clearer now – what can it mean to take up the task of Rescue, Restore, Rehabilitate, Reintegrate, and Repatriate? I become the privileged one to pour out the nard of God’s love on such troubled souls. Now, I feel a new strength to return to the fray of frontline mission and through God’s power I am ever ready to minister, smile, listen, and hold hands of praise and care.  I adore and praise God who has led me along this way of being a Medical Missionary of Mary, (MMM).

It is an aura of a sense of God’s Holy Ground, where I stand now and accept to go forward to the end along a road that is ever more uncertain and to horizons infinitely more and more drowned in mist.

Mary O’Malley, MM

Recalling my stay in Lebanon: ‘I didn’t sign up for this’

When an individual leaves their origin country to go abroad, they visualize a better life for themselves and their loved ones. However not every travel abroad is a silver platter, when the migrant workers arrive in their destination countries, the situation turns into a nightmare. The following is the story of Carol*, who was a migrant worker in Lebanon and was lucky to be repatriated by CHTEA and other partner organizations.

‘The most horrifying thing that I will never forget during my working experience is that I was molested and assaulted. I was chained and raped by my employer. I was very scared after the threats that he gave me and I had no choice but to escape from that house and found help from the police and the Kenyan Embassy. While I was stranded on the streets, I saw a taxi coming and I stopped it. I requested the driver to take me to the Kenyan Embassy. Fortunately, there was a Kenyan lady inside the taxi and she asked me in Kiswahili “Una shida gani dadangu?” (Translated as “what is the problem, my sister?”). I was like, “Thank God”, for the first time I found a sister from my own country. This kind lady told me that she had also escaped from her employer and she was now living in her own house. I told her my story and afterward, she agreed to accommodate me.

The next day, she accompanied me to the Embassy but I was not assisted. There were no flights operating due to the COVID-19 pandemic. After some time, I missed my monthly menstrual period so I decided to buy the pregnancy test kit and after testing myself, I got the shock of my life to realize that I was pregnant. I informed the lady who was accommodating me and who in turn insisted that I should look for a job, which I did. Eventually, I moved out and rented my own apartment even though my aim was to go back home at the earliest opportunity (Kenya). I decided to share my story with my mother who was extremely shocked but advised me not to stop going to the Embassy to know if there were any changes with the flights.

“With time, I was heavily pregnant and I could not even get the part-time jobs that I used to survive on. I thank God because, at the 11th hour, the flights became operational once again. My parents had to sell a portion of our land so as to get money to buy me a flight ticket. I traveled back to Kenya only 2 days before giving birth. Upon arrival, I was rushed to the hospital the same night after my water broke.  The next day, I delivered a male baby boy (“a product” of rape) - A son who fully resembled the ‘rapist’. The more he stared at me while breastfeeding, the more I despised him because he reminded me of the horrible experience that I went through.”

When Carol* finally visited CHTEA’s office, she was contemplating suicide. She indeed wanted to first kill ‘the rape-boy’ and end her life. As fate would have it, Carol* started post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) therapy sessions through the CHTEA-run in-house shelter which encouraged her to move on with her life. The support towards this survivor (and 75 others) was through a humble individual donation.

While leaving the shelter later last year, Carol said the following:

“We are deeply grateful for your support and the donors who have enabled us to be rehabilitated and restored; creating new hope and lives of distressed migrant workers and victims of human trafficking”.

Click here to donate

Guest article – Christian Professionals denounce the Supreme Court Ruling on LGBTQ NGO registration.

The Kenya Christian Professionals Forum (KCPF) has castigated the Supreme Court of Kenya ruling of February 24, 2023, which allowed for the registration of an NGO for LGBTQ persons, terming the move unconstitutional and one that will have far-reaching implications for the country.

“KCPF is deeply concerned by the recent Supreme Court Judgment. The judgment opens the way to the gradual dismantling of our legal, moral, and cultural prohibitions against homosexual behavior, which is so destructive to the individual, families, communities, and the nation. While the Court did not overturn the anti-sodomy laws in the Penal Code for now, it has signaled that gays and lesbians can now engage untrammeled by legal restrictions to unravel our various guardrails against the promotion of homosexuality,” said the body in a statement dated February 25, 2023, and signed by lawyer Charles Kanjama, the chairperson of KCPF.

On February 24, the Supreme Court of Kenya dismissed an appeal by the NGO coordination board against a High Court order that directed it to register an NGO seeking to advocate for the rights of LGBTQ persons in Kenya. The NGO, the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) had applied for registration in 2012 but was denied by the board on the grounds that its proposed names were contrary to sections 162, 163, and 165 of the Penal Code, which criminalize gay and lesbian relationships.

According to the ruling, “The Court determined that the use of the word "sex" under Article 27(4) does not connote the act of sex per se but refers to the sexual orientation of any gender, whether heterosexual, lesbian, gay, intersex or otherwise. Further, we find that the word “including” under the same Article is not exhaustive, but only illustrative and would also comprise “freedom from discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation.”

KCPF, in the statement, says that the Supreme Court ignored the facts and context in which Kenyans enacted the current Constitution in 2010 and failed to deal with the reality that most corporate registration laws worldwide allow prohibition of the use of certain names that harm the public policy of promoting respect for existing laws.

They further criticized the majority opinion of the Supreme Court for reaching “ an unsupported conclusion that sex in the Constitution means sexual orientation rather than binary sexual identity as male and female (as clearly & correctly explained in the dissenting opinion of Justice Ouko),” and “ Applied foreign judgments without discerning their material differences from the Kenyan context, thus disenfranchising the Kenyan people who voted to adopt their Constitution based on their clear understanding that LGBTQ activity was prohibited.”

The Christian Professionals advanced that the ruling is a disregard for the moral and cultural values of Kenyans, which are carefully constructed to protect the natural family through laws that prohibit all aspects of homosexual conduct and its propagation.“Our film and media industry has already been a target. Our education sector and our children and youth are already battling the insidious glamorization and normalization of LGBTQ lifestyles. Our laws are being continuously undermined by targeted disobedience through tactical flaunting of LGBTQ lifestyles. Our churches and religions are under consistent pressure from both within and without to cave into LGBTQ ideology," they stated.

KCPF, the body that brings together Christian Professionals from various denominations sharing common values on Life, Family, Religion, Value-Based Education & Governance, rallied Kenyans to reflect on the “slippery slope we have been thrust upon by the Supreme Court judgment,” and defend their moral values to have laws that align with societal consensus on what is right and wrong.

By Paschal Norbert

(Source- Nairobi, February 28, 2023 (CISA)

The status of human trafficking in The Democratic Republic of Congo

With over 97 million people, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the latest entrant into the East African Community. DRC is also the second-largest country in Africa. The country’s rich natural resources, such as copper, diamonds, and cobalt (to name but a few), have kept DRC’s economy afloat for decades and facilitated alliances with other nations. 

DRC is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to trafficking in Persons (TIP). Human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims as well as exploiting victims from the DRC abroad. Most human trafficking cases are internal and they involve forced labor in artisanal mining sites, agriculture, domestic servitude, or armed group recruitment of children in combat and support roles, as well as sex trafficking.

According to the U.S. Department of State 2021, Trafficking in Persons Report, diamonds, copper, gold, cobalt, ores, and tin are all produced with forced labor in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). A 2016 report which sampled 300 mines, found armed groups present at 16 percent and the Congolese army present at 36 percent. Of these, direct interference was found in 84 percent. 

Armed interference is highest in the eastern, conflict-affected areas of North Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri regions. Armed groups control the mines in order to exploit the minerals and use the revenue to fund their activities. In some cases, the forces that control mining sites, often representatives of the armed forces or rebel groups, make local miners work at gunpoint without pay at their mining site for short periods of time – a process known as “solango.” 

The groups controlling the mines are often the only source of credit in these impoverished regions, and they give loans to miners for money, food, and tools. Miners are then required to pay back these loans at hugely inflated rates, which can force them into a cycle of debt bondage. Debt bondage amongst women miners has become normalized and can result in forced marriage and inter-generational indebtedness. In addition, false or exaggerated criminal charges may be used to compel miners into service. Child soldiers are also conscribed to work at the mines. Approximately, 16 percent of Congolese mining for cobalt are children, with some as young as six years.

Further, according to the same report, the DRC Government made significant efforts to eliminate trafficking but did not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. These efforts included convicting an armed group leader of child soldier recruitment and sexual slavery, investigations, and prosecutions of those complicit, the partial implementation of a national action plan, and measures to enhance victim identification. 

However, efforts were found not to have increased beyond those of the previous reporting period and authorities investigated fewer cases. For this reason, the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons classified the DRC under the Tier 2 Watch List for the second consecutive year. If the DRC does not improve its record from 2021, it faces being downgraded to Tier 3. 

The human trafficking risk is generally internal and may be found among both adults and children in export supply chains including small-scale agriculture and the illegal mining of diamonds, copper, gold, cobalt, ore, and tin. Additionally, Congolese men, women, and children are vulnerable to trafficking as combatants and in supporting roles within armed groups as well as in the mining sector. The U.S. Department of State confirms the presence of debt-based coercion. Women and girls are at a higher risk for sex trafficking related to the mining sector, but also nationally, regionally, and internationally. Children are vulnerable to forced labor in small-scale agriculture, domestic work, street begging, vending, and portering. Children from the neighboring Republic of the Congo may transit through the DRC en route to Angola or South Africa, where traffickers may exploit them in domestic servitude.

Some of the efforts the government has put into place to eliminate Human trafficking include:

  1. Finalizing Standard operating procedures (SOPs) for victim identification
  2. Referral to services and partnering with NGOs to identify more trafficking victims
  3. Investigation, prosecution, and convicting of the traffickers including complicit officials.

A significant number of artisanal miners-men and boys are exploited in situations of debt bondage. Armed groups reportedly use threats and coercion to force men and children to mine for minerals.

Congolese women and children are exploited internally in conditions of involuntary domestic servitude and some are taken to other countries (Angola, South Africa, the Republic of Congo, and European nations)  for commercial sexual exploitation.

Despite the efforts made by the DRC’s government to eliminate human trafficking, there continues to be a lack of victim identification procedures and criminalization of trafficking crimes.