On Wednesday 26th July Awareness Against Human Trafficking (HAART Kenya) were delighted to have welcomed the Second Secretary; Teresa Sweeney, from the Irish Embassy in Nairobi to our shelter for victims of Human Trafficking. The Irish Embassy voiced its support in relation to working with HAART and assisting victims of trafficking in both Ireland and Kenya. Trafficking is a global problem not just an African or Asian problem.
The timing is important as research undertaken by HAART has concluded that internally displaced persons (IDPs) are much more vulnerable to trafficking in a post-election violence (PEV) period. However, we are hoping that a peaceful and credible election will develop.
HAART Kenya was delighted with the positive meeting with the Irish Embassy in Nairobi who recognises the impact that Human Trafficking is having on Kenyan society. Interestingly though, Human Trafficking is not only an issue in East Africa but rather it is a global problem. Even Ireland has been affected by the issue where the weak and vulnerable are manipulated by criminal individuals and groups. The Trafficking in Persons Report 2016 showed the amount of victims of trafficking in Ireland has significantly grown from 78 in 2015 to 95 in 2016. More broadly it is estimated that over 20 million people are victims of some kind of forced labour and it is easy to see why when annual profits amount to $150 billion globally.
2017 Presidential Election
After conducting a research study after the 2013 Presidential election mentioned previously it became apparent to HAART that internally displaced persons are more vulnerable to being trafficking into forced labour, prostitution or child marriage during post-election violence. Therefore, the worry is that many people will be at risk after the 8th of August if unrest is to occur. It is for this reason that HAART seeks to establish relationships between many likeminded organisations and individuals so that there is more capacity within Kenya to deal with such issue.
Currently HAART is very thankful for its Irish partners support including Misean Cara and Volunteer Mission Movement (VMM) who provide funding and volunteer assistance to the organisation. Without the help of such organisations the work that HAART does most certainly would not be possible.
HAART is always looking to expand its network, partners and reach. The organisations field category is broad and can fall into the following areas: human rights, gender-based violence (GBV), youth work and psychological support. Thus, having many likeminded partners enabled us to continue the much needed work for the vulnerable.
On the ground HAART conducts grassroots workshops to raise awareness in vulnerable areas in Kenya reaching more than 20,000 people and in 2014 alone HAART reached more than 6,000 people. Most of the workshops take place in impoverished areas and many of the participants lack education and employment opportunities, making them vulnerable to traffickers. In addition, HAART particularly targets young people as they are more at risk of becoming victims of trafficking. Many of the workshops are held outdoors or in sheds to reduce costs for venue.
Recently, HAART conducted an evaluation that confirmed that although there were opportunities for improvements (which are being implemented), the workshops have a strong impact in the community and equip the participants with accurate knowledge of human trafficking, their rights and how to avoid being trafficked.
Additionally, HAART is currently trying to raise funds for constructing a safe house that will be dedicated to victims of human trafficking who are in need of temporary shelter. While the current shelter (pictured above) is a fantastic safe house HAART has long term plans to build its own shelter by where there can be no issue with regards to leasing a safe house.
HAART works with youths and with art projects to create new and innovative approaches to countering trafficking. From July 3 – 14 HAART facilitated the Arts To End Slavery exhibition for the third consecutive year which was another great success. The projects main goal is to bring together a number of local professional artists, photographers, musicians, poets who will shed light on the issue of human trafficking using their own medium. The exhibition is essentially a blank canvass where these artists can get the message across to the public and consequently bring awareness to trafficking of persons. This exhibition is a very creative way for artists to engage the attention of people who otherwise would not be aware of the issue in Kenya.
If you would like more information on HAART’s work please contact us through Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn or you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can donate to haartkenya.org/donate.