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Finding a bright future for child domestic workers in Tanzania | CNN


Mercy Esther was eight years old when she left home.

Raised by her grandmother in rural Tanzania, Mercy Esther and her siblings were born into poverty. When Mercy Esther’s job offer came up in Kenya and her grandmother brought up her promise that her money would be sent home, she accepted. That money can help Marcy her Esther brothers. They may have a better future.

The job offer turned out to be a lie. This was the first in a series of broken promises that robbed a young woman of her childhood and family.

Mercy Esther was born with a deformity in one leg that left her with a limp. On her Nairobi streets, she and her other children were forced to beg. She was told to pretend that she couldn’t walk, to elicit public sympathy, and every day the money she collected was taken from her.

One day, while begging, Mercy Esther was approached by a woman who offered domestic labor and more promises of a new house, wages, and good treatment. She went with a woman, but instead Mercy Esther was abused and she received no money for her labor, it took her six years before she escaped.

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With the support of the Nairobi police and the Kenyan and Tanzanian governments, Murthy Esther returned to her country of birth, but the details of the village where she grew up were unknown, and authorities assigned her to the WoteSawa Domestic Workers Organization, which runs the shelter. I deposited the For trafficked children in Mwanza, on the shores of Lake Victoria, in the north of the country.

“Tanzania is a beautiful and peaceful country, but it also has a dark side,” said Angela Benedict, the organization’s founder and executive director.

“Many people live in poverty and forced labor is a huge problem,” she added. “The most common form of human trafficking in Tanzania is domestic labor and young girls forced into domestic labor. They face abuse and exploitation and are not rewarded for their work.”

About one million children, mostly girls, are engaged in domestic work in Tanzania, according to the non-profit organization Anti-Slavery International.

Established in 2014, Otesawa takes in approximately 75 children who have escaped human trafficking each year. Due to the tight space, the child sleeps on the bed with her two. Because prosecution takes time, some people stay longer than others, especially if they are involved in a criminal case, Benedict said. So far, the nonprofit has helped hundreds of survivors, but the need outstrips the available resources. I dream of making

Her mission is to empower domestic workers and defend their rights. She is a former domestic worker. “I faced abuse and exploitation, but I was able to speak up,” she explains. “Many domestic workers have no voice. Who is going to speak for them?”

“I use my story to tell people, ‘Don’t give up.'”

Wotesawa means “all equal” in Swahili. Shelters house children and provide counseling and legal assistance. They also receive training in reading, writing, arithmetic, and vocational training such as sewing. Reintegrating children into their education works in tandem with efforts to reunite them with their loved ones. “So that when I go back to my family, I can help not only myself, but my family,” Benedict said.

Lydia lives in the Ngara district in the mountains of western Tanzania. She left her home to become a 16-year-old domestic worker, but was beaten by her employer and not paid her for her work. She escaped and was rescued by WoteSawa, who taught her how to sew.Lydia returned to her parents’ house with a sewing machine provided by WoteSawa, and she now dreams of having her own shop. She is a dressmaker.

“She makes enough money to support her family,” said Benedict. “Her dream is to teach other young girls how to sew. She has plans to give back to the community.”

Otesawa not only helps victims of human trafficking, but also works to prevent human trafficking. Benedict is working with bus station agents who monitor infants and local police with the authority to intervene.

“My mission is to stop the crime of human trafficking once and for all, and that can only be achieved through education,” said Police Chief Juma Jumane. “We must educate our families.” We have to educate the victims themselves, we have to educate the whole society.”

When Mercy Esther arrived at the shelter, she was reluctant to reveal the name of her village. But eventually she changed her mind.

With her grandmother and brother after reuniting with Mercy Esther (second from right).

Mercy Esther and CNN through the Poland-based Kurczyk Foundation in support of Otesawa.

Otesawa was able to find her family and took her grandmother and siblings to the shelter. It’s been eight years since they last met. “It was very moving,” Benedict said. “They cried and hugged. I think all of us were very emotional. We were so happy that we cried.”

Mercy Esther, still uneasy about the idea of ​​returning to her village, chooses to remain in the shelter until she is old enough to learn enough skills as a seamstress to start a business to support her family. I have.

“Her future is very bright,” Benedict said. “You will find that she will be a light to her brothers.”

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