We pile these stones here not to hold on to the past but to remember where we’ve been.
In our session, Lucy and twenty other young adults learned about human trafficking: what it is, the many forms it takes, the ways traffickers entice and trap individuals and how to stay away from traffickers. The beauty of Dusty Feet’s program is that it educates both the victimized and those who have the power to protect them. After our session, the Watoto Wema leadership hired a behavioral change counselor that specializes
in working with those involved in the commercial sex trade. By gaining knowledge about human trafficking and attending behavioral therapy, Lucy was empowered to make changes in her life.
The Director of Watoto Wema has recently told us that Lucy is no longer sneaking out and has escaped the life of sexual exploitation. She has become an empowered and responsible young lady. Everyone at the orphanage has high expectations and great faith in Lucy. She entered secondary school this year.
We at Dusty Feet feel so privileged to have played a part in changing this one beautiful life and are more driven than ever to inspire hope and freedom from human trafficking in East Africa.
*Name has been changed
In late 2009 our director Nate Kaunley responded to a tweet by an influential non-profit director in Kenya looking for an organization to sponsor the Counter-Trafficking in Persons Bill for Kenya (the TIP Bill). Our willingness to partner coupled with the desire to fight human trafficking prompted us to join forces and lobby for the passing of the TIP Bill. The directors of Dusty Feet wrote letters, held meetings with ministers of parliament, and encouraged other NGOs and community leaders to actively get behind the bill.
In addition to the momentum in Kenya, the United States Department of State released the Trafficking in Persons Report in June of 2010. This report formally urged Kenya to adopt the legislation. Shortly thereafter the TIP Bill was passed by the Kenyan Parliament and was signed into law by President Mwai Kibaki in October of 2010.
We at Dusty Feet would never assert that we were the sole force behind the TIP Bill, but we don’t shy away from the part we played in bringing it to fruition.
If you would like to read the Counter-Trafficking in Persons Bill for Kenya, you can find it HERE.
When we started distributing our anti-human trafficking curriculum, we expected many things. We anticipated that there would be a host of questions. We were sure that stories of close encounters would be shared. We thought the students would mention how they were clueless of the dangers that can accompany the pursuit of employment. We expected that the information given would initiate conversation within families. Little did we know that in one of our first meetings a group of students would volunteer to take action.
A group of high school students approached our programs director, Wambui, after she led an informative and inspirational assembly. “We want to help!” a girl began. She explained that the group is part of a collective seeking to educate youth across Nairobi about dangerous cults and to encourage people to seek truth. This group decided they must not only share with their friends about dangerous cults but also human trafficking.
Dusty Feet could not have asked for a greater response. Young ambassadors are taking initiative to prevent human trafficking! You know the adage that “Knowledge is power.” We’d like to expand on this idea: “What you do with knowledge is powerful.” These Kenyan teens are making a difference in their community by educating their friends, family members and strangers about the modern slave trade. Lives are being saved and potential is being realized because people are doing great things with their knowledge.
The East Africa Partnership Against Human Trafficking had a preliminary meeting with Dr. Bernard Mogesa at the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights in September of 2012. More than anything, this meeting was intended to be a meet and greet between our two organizations.
The results of that meeting were more profitable than we could have ever hoped. Upon hearing our leadership share the vision of Dusty Feet, Dr. Mogesa saw the potential for cooperation and offered us an opportunity to help further educate the Kenyan Police Force about human trafficking.
In the past, trafficked people have been brushed aside or tried and convicted as criminals. Dusty Feet, in partnership with the KNCHR, hopes to increase the ability of the police force to pinpoint trafficking, care for victims and prosecute perpetrators.
A three-year-old boy named Somo from Kiamaiko came to live at the Dusty Feet Safe House in the summer of 2012. He was the tenth child born to parents who succumbed to HIV virus shortly after his birth. In spite of having HIV, Somo is a young boy who exudes so much joy. After his parents’ deaths his grandmother who could not support him and thirteen other grandchildren, sufficiently due to her age and lack of income, took him in.
When Somo arrived at the Dusty Feet Safe House, he was very frail due to malnutrition and lack of healthcare. The safe house staff has since devoted special attention and medical care in the effort to boost his immunity and encourage development.