16-year-old Ketra* has transformed her future after being trafficked into labor exploitation. She recently received excellent exam results, and is looking forward to returning to school.
Ketra has been supported by the Addressing Child Trafficking and Slavery (ACTS) project, made possible by support from the Global Fund To End Modern Slavery (GFEMS) and the U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.
After the pandemic forced schoolchildren to stay home, Ketra’s relationship with her mother deteriorated and her father left the family. Ketra began to have suicidal feelings and ran away from home, when she was approached by someone who offered her a job as a maid.
Ketra was then forced to work unpaid for a month and a half, before she managed to use her employer’s phone to call her mother and explain what had happened.
Law enforcement then arrested the employer, and Ketra was referred to the organization Hope for Justice, which is leading ACTS. The project aims to provide and transform care and support for child trafficking survivors, raise awareness of child trafficking, and contribute to reducing its prevalence in Uganda.
Over four months, with support from Hope for Justice, Ketra was able to recover and heal in one of the organization’s Lighthouse shelters, which provides temporary care and support for vulnerable and exploited children.
Ketra showed signs of severe depression and anxiety upon arrival. She was withdrawn and would not participate in activities. Hope for Justice provided Ketra with medical care and counseling, which helped Ketra begin to look forward to her future. She was introduced to arts and sports therapy to help her express herself. Ketra continues to participate in life skills sessions, and is working hard to catch up on missed schoolwork.
Ketra started to join in and made friends. She now supports other survivors, providing peer-to-peer counselling.
The empowering, trauma-informed care and support, and education on rights and risks that children and their families receive through this project are vital for promoting individual recovery and reducing the likelihood of (re-)trafficking.
Ketra said: “I want to become a role model for children in the village. I want to…urge them to be vigilant and focus on their studies, so that they don’t end up in trouble like I did.”
Meanwhile, Hope for Justice contacted and visited Ketra’s mother, updating her on her daughter’s progress. At this time, she began to actively participate in positive parenting skills sessions with the ACTS project.
Ketra is now looking forward to going home. Hope for Justice will continue to work proactively with her mother to ensure that the family unit is a positive one for her to return to.
*Name and image have been changed to protect survivor’s identity
This blog post was made possible through support provided by the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery under a grant from the U.S. Department of State. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of GFEMS or the U.S. Department of State.