On the 27th of November, four of our sisters joined in a practical advocacy training program organized by Africa Faith and Justice Network (AFJN) held in Benin City, Edo State.
A BBC news reporter from Washington DC was present throughout the meeting and joined the group on the field trips to various communities, the police and a youth group in Benin City. Time was spent reviewing the aims of AFJN before proceeding to a time of visioning. We shared on Scripture passages that speak to us strongly about passion for life and the need to speak for the voiceless.
On the field trips we were accompanied by two journalists and two police officers from the State CID. We visited three different communities - Ijoba, Ugbogui and Ugwa, - meeting with the king and the local leaders, and people. In our discussions with the people we emphasised the dangers of sending children overseas in an attempt to raise funds. The police officers spoke about the political implications of human trafficking and explained the prosecution process that traffickers face. They encouraged the people to report any cases of trafficking to the anti-trafficking unit, to enable them to commence prosecution of offenders without delay. The sisters spoke emphasised the importance to the people of knowing their rights.
Following the field trips, we were invited to the State CID officers’ Mess of the National Police Force to present our message. Although there is much still to be done in dealing with traffickers we were satisfied that our message had been heard and, hopefully, the police will be more ready to follow up on cases of trafficking in future.
Our final visit was to Benin Youth Centre where we met a group of teenagers. Some Libya returnees shared their travel experience with the youth. This exercise was very educative, informative and real, and outlined the dangers of the journey as well as the costs involved. We hope it was very instructive for the youth we met and that they will share the message with their peers.
Sr. Maryann Emealo RSC