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.


RAHT Annual General Meeting 2022

Sr.Laura speaking to the members at the RAHT 2022 AGM.CHTEA is a member of RAHT, a network of Religious consecrated members, Clergy, lay associates, and like-minded partners working towards eliminating all forms of human trafficking, and a member of Talitha Kum International Network. RAHT creates awareness of human trafficking and its perils at the grassroots and national levels.

On Saturday,11th February 2023, CHTEA joined other members at Rosa Mystica for the 2022 Annual General Meeting. The members had convened to conduct an election to fill vacant positions within the structure. The newly elected officials from Left to Right in the picture below included Sr. Winnie -Communications Director, Fr. Bosco-Board Member, Sr.Laura-RAHT Coordinator, and Sr.Bernadette-Treasurer. The newly elected officials will be serving on a renewable term of two years. The members also discussed the progress of program implementation by the secretariat for the year 2022 and the projections for the 2023 activities.

Newly elected RAHT Officials from L-R,Sr Winnie,Fr.Bosco,Sr.Laura and Sr BernadetteCHTEA management wishes to congratulate the newly elected officials and Executive members.

RENATE 2022 Conference Report.

The Religious of European Network Against Trafficking & Exploitation (RENATE), was formed in 2009 to realize the dream of a world free of slavery by 2030. RENATE held its 2022 conference on 13th-19th November 2022 to highlight the origin of the network and the efforts the network has put toward ending Human Trafficking.

RENATE was started by individual sisters who wanted to ‘Do More’ towards ending human trafficking. When it started, RENATE had 32 sisters from 26 countries, a large number being from Asia and USA with only 4 countries from Africa (Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, and Nigeria). Currently, RENATE is a network of over 300 persons spread across 31 countries working alongside the church, State, and civil society. 

The vision and mission of the RENATE network is to work towards achieving an end to Human Trafficking:

  1. To free the world from modern slavery, human trafficking & exploitation.
  2. Working with victims and survivors, NGOs & corporations to halt the growing demand for trafficked victims.
  3. Through education, raising awareness, research, sharing best practices, advocacy, and campaigns.
  4. Increasing the empowerment of victims to share their stories, lead activities, and gather support to Restore their broken lives.
  5. Increasing investment in education, shelter, and support to build victims' life skills and resilience.

RENATE aims to take care of Human Trafficking victims through :

  1. Rescue
  2. Restore to normal life – in as far as possible, multiple needs (e.g. Vani.) Livelihood, Food & Shelter.
  3. Educational - Themselves or children, long-term commitment.
  4. Rehabilitation – Medical, Counselling, etc.
  5. Reintegration
  6. Repatriation

As a mark of God’s grace in abundance, Sr Mary O’Malley, MMM (the CHTEA Board Chairperson) attended the 2022 RENATE conference in Lisbon, Portugal.

Survivor Stories : Ruth * Trafficked in Lebanon as a domestic servant.

Ruth (not her real name)  was approached by a lady working for a recruitment agency who came to her shop in disguise as a customer. The lady convinced her that she would connect her to work abroad for a commission of USD 800. Ruth was convinced and accepted the offer since she had tried connecting with an agent online who instead was demanding USD 1500. The lady promised her that she will be employed to work in an office in Lebanon. Later on, she was directed to the office where the agency was located, after she arrived at the office she signed the contract indicating that she would be employed to work as a cleaner in Lebanon.

Upon arrival, she was received by the agent in Lebanon and directed to the agency’s office. Afterward, she was locked up in a room where she met other migrants who were physically abused for refusing to work. Later she was accompanied to the hospital where she was tested for COVID-19 and was in quarantine for 2 weeks. After quarantine, the agent came for her and she was informed that the contract she signed was fake thus she was required to work as a domestic worker. Ruth was not in agreement and she refused, insisting that she had signed to work as a cleaner.

This resulted in her being beaten up and forced to work as a domestic worker, she had no choice and she agreed to the offer. Later that evening the employer came for her at the office and she was taken to the residence. Upon arrival. She started working immediately. She was required to work for her employer and his mother who was aged and very sickly. Ruth was given the responsibility of nursing the old woman, she was to change her diapers and do all the other house chores as well. The employer’s family consisted of 14 family members.

During her employment period, Ruth was extremely overworked, denied food and medical treatment. After working for 8 months, she could not bear the mistreatment and insisted that she wanted to be taken back to the agency office. The employer agreed and she was taken back. However, the agent did not listen to any of her complaints, instead, she was beaten up for refusing to work and her mobile phone

was confiscated. Ruth was locked up in the office for a period of 2 months while she was forced to work for another employer. Eventually, she agreed and she was received by another employer who was a doctor. The doctor was only living with his wife and they didn’t have children. Ruth thought that she was lucky since the work would not be overwhelming. However, the wife of the employer was a drug addict who was forcing

Ruth to take drugs. She was forced to wash the lady’s cat daily and she was denied food. When Ruth tried raising her concern, the lady threatened to kill her. One day the cat died mysteriously and Ruth was worried for her life. She wanted to escape by jumping from the balcony which was on the 6th  floor. Her plan, however, didn't work out as her employer, found out before she could escape. The lady was furious and pointed a gun at her, Ruth screamed for help and the lady hit her on the head. One of the neighbors came to her rescue and called the police who came and took her to the hospital. Afterward, she was accommodated by one of the policemen for 2 months until she recovered completely. She was then connected with the Caritas shelter where she was accommodated for 4 months. Later she was assisted by Ms. Eunice(CHTEA Liason officer) who connected her with IOM Lebanon. IOM facilitated her travel ticket to Kenya.

After her return, Ruth was taken in by CHTEA and offered medical and psychosocial support, Ruth is now in good shape and running a small business to support herself and her family. 

“Understanding Human Trafficking in Rwanda: Causes, Effects, and Impact” – A Rwandan Study

Research, the first of its kind in Rwanda, was conducted by Never Again Rwanda, a local NGO, and funded by United States Agency for International Development. It aimed to determine the scope of human trafficking in Rwanda, as well as its characteristics and associated factors, to formulate evidence-based recommendations to strengthen the response at the local and national levels.  The key findings show that Rwanda is a transit country and to a lesser extent a country of origin. The majority of intercepted victims were female (77.67%) and the most common forms of human trafficking in Rwanda were identified to be labor and sex trafficking.  The research further revealed that Saudi Arabia is the most frequent destination (38.55%), followed closely by Uganda (37.35%) and Kenya (7.23%).

The Government of Rwanda has made significant achievements in combatting trafficking in the country; including passing a new law in 2018, training government officers, and conducting awareness-raising activities. Still, the research highlighted some remaining key challenges, including scarce resources, inadequate victim testimonies, and a lack of cooperation mechanisms with other countries. In addition, research findings showed that service providers reported challenges related to the identification. Assistance to victims is often short-term due to a lack of shelters. Male victims are often neglected too.

The research report will serve as a baseline for informed and evidenced-based programming in the future.

Read the whole report here Understanding human trafficking in Rwanda.

Source credit: Never Again-Rwanda

For further information please get in touch with Alia Hirji at IOM Rwanda, e-mail: ahirji@iom.int.

Human Trafficking: The Ultimate Slavery – Sexual, Labour & Debt Bondage

Slavery is found in the Bible in Old Testament times – the Israelites were slaves in Egypt and we know the extreme hardships they endured.  Joseph was sold by his brothers to become a slave in Egypt, later he was the one who assisted them when a terrible famine raged in the land of Israel and he became their liberator.  

Closer to our own times, people from West Africa were taken as slaves to the then ‘New World’, and today we know that there is still deeply embedded racism in the USA where in many instances African Americans are unfairly judged and treated as second-class citizens.  For many young black men, they can be set upon and killed for a trivial offense or no offense at all as in the case of George Floyd who was held down by a white police officer holding a knee on his neck (for 8 minutes and 46 seconds) till he suffocated and died.  The “Black Lives Matter” movement was born out of the disgust and pain which filled the hearts of millions of people around the world following his death.  We witnessed the full horror of his death before our eyes on TV and social media.  Sadly, he was not the first, and in subsequent events, other young black men paid the price for being black in a racially divided America.  

Human Trafficking - Modern-Day Slavery

After 400 years of Slavery, it was finally abolished in 1807 but slavery and practices which beget slavery are more alive today than at any point in human history.  It is estimated that more people are trafficked in one year from Asia alone than in the entire 400 years of the slave trade. 

Ten centuries before the West African slave trade the East Coast African Slave trade thrived.  Over several centuries countless East Africans were sold as slaves by Muslim Arabs to the Middle East and other places via the Sahara desert and the Indian Ocean. Experts say it is time for this to be discussed more openly.  The island of Zanzibar is today considered one of East Africa's best destinations: white sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, and hotels offer tourists from all over the world a holiday to remember.  Long forgotten is the dark past that overshadowed this sunny paradise several centuries ago. The archipelago, which today is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, was then regarded as the center of the East African slave trade 

The Palermo Protocol

Following a number of minor declarations on Human Trafficking (HT) it was only in December 2000 that the UN Definition of Human Trafficking was finally concretized in the Palermo Protocol, Article 3. It is described as a criminal activity and reads as follows:

“Trafficking in persons shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation.  Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of servitude or the removal of organs”

Pope Francis has never hidden his great concern over the phenomenon of human trafficking which claims millions of victims – women, children, and men every year.  It is a concern not only of the Pope but of many people within and beyond the Church who are working to counteract what the Holy Father describes as an “atrocious scourge” and “an open wound on the body of contemporary humanity”   This is what Pope Francis also said to an International group of law enforcement officers and church workers in a meeting on 9th February 2019.  He continued that modern forms of slavery “are far more widespread than previously imagined, even – to our scandal and shame – within the most prosperous of our societies”  He further challenges us to hear God’s cry to Cain (Gen 4:9) – Where is your brother Abel?  As a society, we must face the various forms of our own complicity in the work practices we prefer to ignore.  How old is the girl who cleans, cooks, and takes care of your family?  The society too tolerates the sex trade and millions of body images of young women and girls are available on our social media each day.  We are saturated with an ‘out-of-control’ porn industry which itself destroys our view of the other as a human person with dignity.  Rather (she) becomes the object of a sexualized body image and is objectified as a means of sexual pleasure whether virtual or in real-time.  

Human Trafficking as an Industry

Human Trafficking is the second fastest-growing industry in the world today, following closely behind the arms industry which places it in the league of a very violent industry, and in reality that is what it is.  According to the European Parliament, the annual turnover from Human Trafficking is more than the total of all military budgets in the world.  It is a multi-billion dollar business and the victims are used as pawns in the game.  Trafficking in persons can be categorized into forced labor, followed by trafficking for sexual purposes, and finally for trafficking in organs.  According to the International Labor Organization (ILO), one out of four victims of modern slavery are children who engage in either physical or domestic labor while another chunk is forced into armed conflict as child soldiers.  This affects both boys and girls, the latter being used as sex slaves and cooks for the soldiers.  Very young children can be lured away by strangers, often it is just by offering them sweets.  They are the ones highly prized for the removal of body organs for witchcraft purposes.

Human Trafficking is Rampant in Kenya

To assert that Human Trafficking is very rampant in Kenya is a gross understatement. Most countries are either source, transit, or destination but sadly, Kenya is all three of them together.  We are a rich source for traffickers and their ‘hunting’ ground is vast both in the rural and urban areas.  We have a very large jobless population, every year hundreds of thousands of children complete standard 8 with no hope of progressing beyond that very basic and limited education – some do not complete even this minimum standard.  We also have many thousands who drop out prior to sitting KCSE and only a handful of those who pass KCSE sufficiently well go on to University or any third level Institution.  The reality is that now, we have many more thousands of graduates who are ‘tarmacking’ our streets hoping to find employment than at any time in the past.  A significant disadvantage is that many of them do not have hands-on skills which are so much in demand in our world today.  Kenya is a transit point for International travel and the largest ‘hub’ for East, Central, and the horn of Africa.  Nairobi is strategically placed to be a departure point for every country in the world.  Finally, Kenya is also a Destination country and the second largest ‘sex travel’ holiday country after South Africa. This is often visible to the eye - with our pristine facilities along the Indian Ocean where thousands of young people flock to taste some of the ‘goodies’ they expect from visitors.   When ships dock in Mombasa with hundreds of sailors, young girls flock there from as far away as Baringo and Eldoret!! 

Those Most at Risk.

Women at risk of being trafficked are more likely to be impoverished, uneducated, unemployed, and/or disempowered by political, economic, societal, and family structures, including being subjected to unequal treatment, carrying the burden of household and childcare responsibilities and/or have no access to information on trafficking and how traffickers operate.  In our network, we have attempted to offer teaching sessions to classes of primary school pupils from the age of 10 years and above, but with limited means to impart such knowledge, it remains a mammoth task and the Government especially needs to play a herculean role to save the current and future generations.  The tactics used by traffickers are to lure their potential victims with promises of unimaginably high salaries, clean work in good surroundings, and a number of ‘perks’ to sweeten the proposed dream work ready for the taking.  Who would not fall for such promises? Inevitably, (potential victims) she (sometimes he) believe this is ‘manna’ from heaven and an opportunity to escape the drudgery and poverty s/he has endured all her life to this point.  The lure of financial gain with few risks are there for the taking and perpetrators, recruiters and traffickers have packaged their bait in glowing terms such that there is no turning back and another young life faces a possible downhill road to destruction.  How many never return? Yet, we know that the ratio of victims identified compared to the estimated number of victims is only 0.4% 

Worst Case Scenarios

How will I know that things may not turn out well or not follow exactly as I was promised?  There is no sure fool-proof way to be certain.  Traveling to that ‘dream job’ may not materialize and in some cases, you may find yourself in a different country to the one where you expected to arrive.  How can you account for all the promises made if that is a possibility?   The same applies to the actual job.  Sally* held a graduate diploma in computer technology but still ended up in domestic services in Saudi where she had a nasty experience.   But she told herself  “in a different country it may work out better”. Her new agent was very reassuring and told Sally “my dear I have the perfect job for you, you be in a supervisory role in the Samsung corporation in Dubai” It was ‘music to her ears’  Next morning Sally found herself as a domestic servant in Oman where racist remarks were ‘rained down’ upon her.  

The Costs of Victim Care.

This is the most difficult part of victim rescue, from the moment we meet that person in distress, it becomes a major focus of our care to help restore some normalcy to their lives.  Some find it difficult to open up so our interviewing must be one of total empathy with the person in front of us. Most likely it is a woman or child but we do get men also – they in particular feel they must exhibit a tough outer ‘garment’ but most of the ones I have met are suffering deep inside.   One man told me “if we suffer like this, what must it be like for the women”?  


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 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 doorsteps, recruitment is swift and efficient.  Then the (human) cargo is dispatched. 

Sr Mary O’Malley, Medical Missionaries of Mary


Mental Health: Engaging Survivors of Human Trafficking

Living Memories: Some sampled and memorable quotes from survivors.

Story One

The sponsor who bought me was hell, there was nothing good from that house from the moment I went there. He was threatening to kill me and I was not given food in the house. The employer was beating me and calling me names. One day while we were both in the kitchen, she was cutting onions and I was cleaning the table, she tried calling me to assist her but I was very busy and I never heard her calling. The madam got very angry and she took a knife and wanted to stub me to death. In self-defense, I struggled and held her hand so that she can drop the knife down. Afterwards, I ran downstairs and locked myself inside my room.

I tried calling the office but they never listened to me therefore I decided to run away but I was arrested by the police and detained. After 4 months, I was deported back to Kenya.

Story Two  

My work experience in Saudi Arabia was terrible. I was taken advantage of by the whole family. Even for the ten-year-old child, I was a monkey. During my work period, I was made to work like a donkey with no time to rest, I was not given food. I was made to sleep outside their house exposed to the heat and I was not allowed to shower. Furthermore, I was raped by the employer and his two sons. The family consisted of 8 children and one of them was disabled. I was required to nurse him and frequently change his diapers.

Story Three

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 have 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 at her own house. I told her my story and afterwards 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 who insisted that I should look for a job, which I did. Eventually, I move out and rented my own apartment but my aim was to go back home (Kenya). I decided to tell my mother the whole story. She was extremely shocked but she told me that I should not stop going back 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 I was surviving 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 had to travel back to Kenya 2 days before delivery. Upon arrival, I was rushed to the hospital the same night after my water broke.  The next day, I delivered a “product” of rape. A son who looks exactly like the rapist. The more he stared at me while breastfeeding, the more I despised him because he reminds me of the horrible experience I went through.

The practice: Engaging Survivors of Human Trafficking

Survivors play a vital role in combating human trafficking. The survivor voice is vital in establishing effective anti-trafficking strategies that address prevention. protection and prosecution.

In an effort to eradicate human trafficking, CHTEA focuses on the rescue, rehabilitation, return/repatriation and reintegration of victims of human trafficking. CHTEA has since 2020 consolidated a network pool of over 300 survivors of human trafficking. The network creates a platform to share experiences, listen to each other, provide awareness channels to the would be victims, explore potential job opportunities and act as an advocacy vehicle.

The network is coordinated by volunteers who are also survivors. On the 1st of October 2022, CHTEA organized a meeting with a group of 25 survivors (mainly from the Middle-East countries) from the network. The goal of the meeting was to have a recollection day to discuss about their current situations since their return. Those in attendance returned between 2020 and 2022. The meeting also created a platform for the survivors to discuss the challenges experienced by the victims of trafficking and to give recommendations that could in future inform policy.

During the one-day recollection, the survivors were given an opportunity to provide a personalized reflection of their individual plights while working in the Middle-East countries. From their narrations which ranged from physical abuse, excessive working hours, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, threats to the individual, false promises, denied freedom of movement, denied medical treatment, denied food, withholding of wages and identity documents, the torture that victims of human trafficking go through was clearly depicted.

Key outcomes

  1. During the plenary discussions that arose after the individual written statements, it was discovered that most of the survivors still suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and some needed very urgent medical and psycho-social support. After the meeting, 15 survivors were admitted to the CHTEA run shelter/safe house to go through medical care and counseling for psycho-social support.
  2. The group unanimously and strongly spoke about the effects of their trauma on their children. Some of the teenage children had resorted to total hatred for their mothers while the younger ones seem to have been traumatized by their experience in the hands of relatives while they were away. In fact, one participant lost her 10-year-old child through torture by relatives. A majority testified that their children lived in fear unlike before. They made an urgent and passionate appeal that CHTEA considers bringing the children on board for psycho-social support once schools close in December. This, they insisted was an inevitable action if CHTEA was to realize a long-term reintegration of the families. A total of 29 children were registered by the returnees/survivors for the rehabilitation project.

At the closure of the meeting, it was agreed that such meetings should be held more frequently so as to engage the survivors and create a platform where they can share their experiences, ventilate their emotions and make recommendations to various stakeholders based on the challenges of labour migration.

Another group of 25 will be convening first week of November to go through a similar reflection. This group will have mixed gender representation.