Highlights from the Field: Wetaase Community Champions, Part 2

Over 21 million of the world’s population has been victims of human trafficking, from children to young girls, women and men, all victims. As human trafficking stands a global problem,

Africa has been the main victim of this international crime.

It is to this cause that organizations like Pollicy have come out to embark on campaigns to find solutions to this adherent problem. Through different projects, Pollicy which is a civic tech firm has come up with various ideas to help solve social challenges facing Uganda.

One of its latest projects is WETAASE a web based platform to help Ugandans influence their decisions before deciding to take on abroad employment and immigration. The project also seeks to involve the community in finding and reporting human trafficking cases. We seek to identify and empower victims of human trafficking in the community and help bring home those
victims still stuck in the lands. We realize this though sharing as much information as possible on our online platforms: website (www.wetaase.org), Facebook (WETAASE) and twitter (@wetaaseug). On top of this, we have a toll free number +256(0)800202600 all made available to provide information and report human trafficking cases directly from the community.

I have volunteered for the last two (2) weeks as a community champion in WEETASE. During this time, I have been interacting with the community around Kampala and the surrounding suburbs engaging in sensitization discussions on WETAASE, the services we offer and the platforms available. These communities were both in the literate, illiterate; formal an informal,
schools and markets, offices and streets, leaders, locals and students.

During these two weeks, every dawn was another opportunity to visit new communities, meet new people, answer to new questions of the same old message, human trafficking. We would meet up members from the community (collectively or individually) and introduce them to
WETAASE, share with them the dark side of human trafficking and inform them on what WETAASE is doing to solve this problem. Special emphasis was invested in educating and encouraging community members to utilize our public platforms and toll free numbers to report and seek guidance on any human trafficking challenges in and around their communities. We
would take them through the process of reaching us and how to communicate any queries they seek to register with WETAASE.

My highlight experience was at a university in Kampala where two girls shared their stories on how their search for greener pastures got them stuck one in Malaysia and another in Saudi Arabia. Despite the difference in location, these girls had exactly the same story. They met “international consultants” online (face book in particular) who invited them into the idea of
migrating to Malaysia and Saudi Arabia for better opportunities. The traffickers narrated how the foreign countries were a heaven on earth with hilarious salaries for simple floating employment opportunities. Given their desperate situations, the two girls were quick to welcome the idea.

Reaching their respective destinations, the girls were first confiscated off their travel document and later subjected to a form of human arrest were they were not allowed to make any outside communications in harsh labor and forced prostitution. The girls were each day exposed to more than four sexual partners at average none of whom they knew their location nor identity. This
was a life saving activity opposition to which was punishable by harsh beatings that would sometimes lead to death. The girl from Malaysia soberly recalls the death of 2 colleagues who were subjected to such punishments. The Malaysian girl was saved by a police raid on the trafficker’s property after over six months in captivity and the other from Saudi Arabia had a
chance of sneaking out of the trafficker’s facility and find asylum at a Ugandan friend’s residence who had settled into Dubai that managed to connect her to the embassy that successfully got her home.

This story didn’t just swallow my emotions but also opened my eyes on the dark cloud covering my international migration skies. 21 million lives, trying to make their lives better are subjected to such atrocities or even worse in the hands of evil hearted individuals who selfishly only seek to empower themselves.

During our community interactions, the locals were quite pleased with the options WETAASE is putting across to cub this public secret widening its wings to affect almost every family in Uganda. The communities were even more excited to learn that WETAASE is offering all these services at free cost. They unanimously commended our efforts and encouraged us to take on the
massage and campaign deeper in the villages where people are more distanced from information.

Other recommendations from the community included ideas like transforming the message into more captivating formats to attract people’s attention. In particular, they proposed short skits as a format suitable for captivating such information. They also recommended that we share this
information on mass media platforms to cause mass attention and in return mass action.

WETAASE presents a rather unique opportunity for us to realize the realities of employment and settlement in the outside world. It opens our eyes into realizing that all is not gold in the Diaspora and further offers advice on the best way to go about deciding how, where and most importantly with whom to migrate and settle into the far lands. It also looks into the rehabilitation process and empowering victims of such stature. A full package kit to not only
defend human right or save life but also bring back to life those that have been traumatized by the vice.

It always feels nice engaging in activities that build society and comfort the wounded. I am very proud to have offered my services to this cause. I would like to thank Pollicy through its program WETAASE for giving me the opportunity to be part of the mighty team and look forward to a lot more. A lot has been leant, a lot has been shared but most importantly, a lot has
been provided to save lives, it is well with my soul!

Written by Mercy Hellen Ajiambo


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