Awareness Against Human Trafficking (HAART) is an organization founded as a response to the increasing crisis of human trafficking in Kenya, a cause which it is entirely dedicated to fight. Founded in 2010, it works in the areas of prevention of trafficking, prosecution of trafficking offenders and protection of victims and working with partners in advocacy and policy. Since it was founded, HAART has trained more than 30,000 people in vulnerable and impoverished grassroots community on human trafficking, how to avoid becoming a victim and what someone can do to get help. Primarily through the workshops we have been able to identify and assist victims of trafficking. The assistance is based on individual needs and can be anything from rescue, economic empowerment, medical care, education, psychosocial support, training, relocation and shelter.
Shelter has always been a challenge for us and other organizations as there are no dedicated shelters for victims of human trafficking in Kenya, but for the past 2 years, HAART has had a working relationship with one shelter in Nairobi that did allow us to bring victims of trafficking with short notice, which is essential in rescue operations. However, due to some regrettable circumstances regarding the care of a child victim of trafficking, we have had to remove all of our beneficiaries from the shelter and find temporary solutions. HAART will not be able to work with that shelter going forward as it is not safe.
We have been able to deal with the crisis by working with different shelters and sending children back to boarding school early. However, these are all temporary solutions until November when the schools close and at the moment we are not able to refer any victims to shelters for protection. This is essential as we are often involved in rescue operations e.g. when a child is rescued from a brothel, early child marriage or domestic servitude in the afternoon it is important that we have place to take the victim immediately.
Since late 2015, HAART has been working on raising funds to first buy land and then build a shelter. We felt back then that it was a real need in Kenya, and we are even more committed to it now. However, time has run away from us and we can no longer wait to raise enough money buy land let alone build a shelter. We need a safe temporary place for victims of trafficking by 1st November as we continue to work on a long-term solution. We are therefore appealing to anyone who can help, to assist us either with funding, second hand furniture and housing items, food and if possible land or a house (either donated or lent).
We are confident that the expertise and capacity HAART has built in the area of protection of victims of trafficking over the past 6 years, and in particular the knowledge we gained from handling the biggest human trafficking case in Kenya’s history in 2014 and 2015 when we successfully rescued 31 trafficked Kenyan women from Libya in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration and the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs will enable us to provide both protection and holistic care for the victims of trafficking in our care. For this new temporary rescue center, we would have to recruit additional staff, but the new recruits will be trained and supported by HAART’s existing both experienced, knowledgeable and passionate staff.
It will need a concerted effort if we are ever to eradicate human trafficking. Please remember the words of the famous 18th century abolitionist William Wilberforce who was instrumental in ending slavery:
“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”