According to the Global Slavery Index (2016), Nigeria has the world’s 23rd highest number of slaves – 875,500 – and its National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) reports that Nigerian girls make up 60-80 percent of the girls trafficked into the European sex industry. Other estimates are as high as 90% (UNDOC, 2016), with Italy being the number one destination country. Most of our survivors hail from Benin City (Edo State), an internationally recognized sex trafficking hub, with built in infrastructures and networks which support the sale of human bodies. The souls and bodies of women are turned into commodities for financial gain while the survivors themselves are held in debt bondage, severely abused, starved, tortured or infected with various sexually transmitted diseases before being deported back to Nigeria. Others who are victims of organ trafficking are murdered and never make it back home. The survivors whose lives tenuously hinge on the margins of poverty and abuse, yet who summon up the courage to resist the brutal annihilation of their souls, are the women and girls we are honored to serve. Here are some of their testimonials of how their partnerships with Pathfinders have changed their lives.
“After I returned from Europe, Pathfinders gave me hope when I had no hope. They were like a mother, a father, a big sister to me during what was a very difficult time. They believed in me and helped me start a small business selling soft drinks and water at a market in Benin City. They have given me joy and hope again and I am able to support myself financially. What they are doing for women like me is just incredible. When I think of them, it brings my heart joy because I remember where I came from. I thank God for them. I hope that one day I can do the same for someone else in this situation. Thank you, Pathfinders, I’m grateful!” ~Esther O. O., survivor turned business-owner.
“[Barrister Idahosa] has been a rock to me. She has used Pathfinders to help me learn a skill and I see myself not looking like a victim but I’m a survivor and that’s how I see myself right now. It’s been really a great, great opportunity to be able to know these people. They have touched my life so, so positively and I am grateful. So these people are real! They are really God’s given gift to mankind today and that’s the little I want to say right now.” ~Joyce O., survivor turned fashion design graduate.
“If not for Pathfinders, I would have been eating grass today. After I was sex trafficked to Europe, I was abandoned by my madam and then sexually abused and raped. When I returned from Europe to Nigeria in 2015, I was six months pregnant and helpless. Even my mother was unable to provide all the help that I needed, even though she took me back in. Pathfinders provided free pre-natal care for me and my baby and after my little girl was born, they provided us with some financial support. Once my daughter got a little older, Pathfinders provided me with start-up training and funding to help me start a small used clothing business. When I needed surgery, they were also there for me. Today, I am able to support myself financially, as well as my daughter who is now almost two. I am also training to become a nurse. After God in heaven, the people at Pathfinders are next. They have been God’s help to me.”
~Loveth O., survivor turned business-owner and nursing student.
“Pathfinders came to my rescue when I returned from Europe [after being trafficked]. When I returned, I was depressed and thought my life would amount to nothing. In fact, I gave up on myself. But [Pathfinders] came out of nowhere. They brought joy to my life and did for me what I couldn’t do for myself by providing me with free skills training in hair dressing and make up and provided start up business training and funding for my mobile business. Soon, they will be helping me to open my first shop. They have even supported me and my family financially during difficult times. Many people ask me how I was able to turn my life around and I tell them it was Pathfinders. I feel privileged to have been helped by them and to be a part of the Pathfinders family. Thank you so much!”
~Blessing O., survivor turned advocate and business owner.
“I would be nowhere if it had not been for Pathfinders. They have done so much to help me, including providing the funding for my fashion design business, paying my [personal and business] rent and even supporting my daughter by paying her school fees. They gave me the encouragement to carry on with my life after being used and abused. I really don’t know where I would have been without them because I had nothing to fall back on. I landed on empty ground, with no help. They gave me hope and told me that this was not the end of the road; that I still had a lot to do. Because of Pathfinders, I picked up the courage to continue and today, I am the woman that I always knew I could be. My heart is full of joy and I don’t know how else to express my gratitude to them. Thank you!”
Joy O., survivor turned fashion designer.