Free the Slaves (FTS) team in Senegal organized an extraordinary homecoming on June 16, 2023. The heroes of this story were 26 resilient survivors of sexual exploitation, ranging in age from 13 to 26 years old. The vigilant agents of the NGO La Lumière removed these courageous individuals from various gold mining sites in Kédougou and Saraya, where they were held captive.
The Nigerian Embassy in Senegal and the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) in Nigeria collaborated to facilitate their flight home. As the survivors arrived at Lagos airport, their identities were swiftly confirmed.
Their new beginning began in AKURE, ONDO STATE, within the caring environment of Emmanuel World Children Foundation’s (EWCF) shelter – a refuge renowned for its unwavering commitment to the socioeconomic reintegration of survivors. This was more than a place to recover; it was a sanctuary where they could reclaim their identity, independence, and future.
Even though their stay was only three days, it was filled with compassion and encouragement. The EWCF team spared no effort to ensure the survivors received the necessary physical, emotional, and financial support.
The EWCF team relentlessly facilitated the procurement of national ID cards for the women since their old ID cards were taken by their traffickers. The women also received SIM cards and help establishing bank accounts as a crucial step in their rehabilitation process. La Lumière also presented each survivor with a new mobile phone and a hygiene kit as a symbolic gesture of a new beginning. They also received advice on how to manage their future project, how to work and manage their money. All survivors will benefit from financial support to start their own businesses, and those who want to go back to school will also be assisted by the Emmanuel Foundation team.
Today, these survivors are in their respective homes and ready to resume a new life full of hope and freedom.
These activities are funded by the U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. The opinions, findings, and conclusions therein are those of the author[s] and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Department of State.