Victims of trafficking are often deeply traumatized, lacking in the most basic needs and food security and are at risk for re-trafficking.
HAART works with local grassroots partners and volunteers to identify victims of human trafficking. The victims have usually come back from horrendous exploitation from abroad or internally in Kenya. In other cases family members report that someone has disappeared and they suspect it was trafficking. In such cases HAART tries to work with the family to trace the potential victims of human trafficking.
Once a victim has been identified, they are interviewed carefully by HAART’s staff members. That involves establishing trust which is not easy for someone who has been exploited in various ways, and especially for people who have been exploited sexually. The full story of the victim is written down in an individual case file. HAART will then conduct a needs assessment to see which type of help the victim is asking for and what we can provide. The funds for victims assistance are very limited so in most cases we will have to be prioritize what kind of assistance we can provide.
Based on the individual case HAART will try to provide assistance, which can be counseling, transport, training, economic empowerment, school fees, medical assistance, legal aid and rescue. In extreme cases HAART has assisted families with burial costs for victims. Lately, HAART assisted the family of a young woman who had been trafficked to Mombasa. She came back to her family bleeding and she did not survive her injuries.
Often the victims are traumatized and in need of counseling which HAART can provide. But especially when it comes to mothers, some are not interested in that type of assistance. What they are requesting is means to feed their children and put them through school. Therefore, we have a program that gives a starting capital to mothers to start a small business.
In July 2014 our team met a group of 10 victims of human trafficking, 7 men and 3 women. They had been identified by one of our volunteers. This group expanded into 8 men and 5 women, and all of them had been trafficked abroad, mainly to Saudi Arabia. They had returned to Kenya in various ways but due to being traumatized by their experiences, they struggled to lead normal lives. They needed to talk about their experiences in order to overcome them. We organised a counselor to meet with the group who diagnosed them to have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The men and women in this group suffered from anxiety, sleep disorders and depression among other things. They organised themselves into a group that meets regularly to talk about their experiences of human trafficking, and when our counselor met them a month later, they had improved dramatically. All the members had benefited from the opportunity to discuss their traumatic experiences with people who had had similar experiences; it had improved their mental health. We will continue to give individual counselling to those who need further assistance. We are now working with a partner organization to asses each of their financial situation individually and if necessary offer training on small business to empower them to provide for themselves and their families. Furthermore, the risk of re-trafficking is reduced through both counseling and economic empowerment.
HAART’s victims’ assistance program uses the Guidelines for assisting victims of human trafficking in the East Africa region. More information about the Guidelines can be found here.
Because of HAART’s very limited resources, we will often try to refer victims to partner organizations that have more resources.