“My parents separated when I was 4 years old. My mother took off and she has never returned ever since. My father remarried and he is the family’s sole breadwinner who earns income from tailoring as well as farming. After I finished school, my father did not have enough money to support me to continue to further my studies. Even though he worked both on the farm and as a tailor, the money was still not enough. He told me that the only option I have was to get a job,” 17- year old Teddy who lives in Tanzania narrates.
“My father had a friend who needed a domestic worker. He was a headteacher and my father assured me that he was a good person who would give me good wages and provide for all my basic needs. The idea sounded great to me because I trusted my father.” Teddy says. In December 2020 she went to a town in Tanzania, and started working in her father’s friend's house.
“My work included preparing the three children in the house to go to school, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry among other duties. I woke up at 5:00 am and went to bed after everyone in the house had gone to sleep. I ate after everyone ate. My employer’s wife denied me food and punished me whenever I made a mistake.” Narrating her horrible ordeal, Teddy explains, “She called me names, beat me and threatened me with worse punishment if I did not work to her expectations.” Teddy says. After three months of enduring this, she had had enough.
Teddy had written down the contact of her employer and handed it to a friend who happened to be a day scholar at her former high school. The girl reported the matter to one of the teachers who had worked closely with Terre des Hommes Netherlands’ partner KIWOHEDE. He reached out to them and the matter was reported to KIWOHEDE who reported the matter to the police and the Ukerewe Social Welfare. They collaboratively called Teddy’s employer and demanded that she should be returned to Ukerewe. The employer agreed to do so but did not actually fulfil this promise. KIWOHEDE then, later on, sent fare to Teddy’s employer so that they could allow her to go.
The social workers worked together so that Teddy could be admitted to the rehabilitation centre. “I was supported to register for vocational training where I am training as a tailor for seven months. I have discovered my identity and I am on the path to becoming a professional tailor just like my father. “I advise my fellow children not to give up on life or allow themselves to be victims of trafficking. They must complete school and be patient until they get support to further their education or to their career paths like how KIWOHEDE and TdH-NL have saved me and helped me to revive my dream of becoming a professional tailor.”
Vaileth Jacob Mwakatobe is a social worker implementing a child trafficking and unsafe migration project in Ukerewe in partnership with TdH-NL. “We need to eradicate violence and exploitation against children and guarantee a better and prosperous future for them. When I met Teddy before the intervention the child was unhappy, tired and scared.” Vaileth explained.
“At the shelter, Teddy was warmly received, got counselling and had social support from others who had also been trafficked. She was given a medical check-up, life skills lessons, hygiene classes and learnt about handcrafting. I can say that after the intervention, Teddy is happy, confident, able to express herself and identify her needs and seek help. In Ukerewe, which is my community, I would like to strengthen socio-economic community structures which would ensure parents have a stable family economy and thus reduce the migratory lifestyles across islands. Furthermore, the child-headed families would also be fewer.
Vaileth is proud of the work she does. “I am proud of working together with Terre des Hommes Netherlands because together we have successfully reached and rescued many children from child exploitation and abuse. We have given them a new start in life by reunifying them with their families, re-enrolling them to school and providing them with vocational training so that they can have a stepping stone to fulfilling their dreams. In future, I hope to see children free from child exploitation and children enjoying their rights!” She concluded.