Girls lead the way in raising awareness to stop child trafficking and sexual exploitation.
Our new project - Pioneers For Change - is leading a movement to educate and empower girls and help them work with the community to stop child trafficking and sexual exploitation.
The Pioneers of Change Project now runs weekly workshops in three schools with 90 girls in the age group 13 -15 years. Girls their families and their teachers are learning to recognise the risks, such as grooming or being promised ‘jobs’ in the city. The programme also includes topics of sexual health, reproductive health, psychological and physical wellbeing, effective decision-making, experiential learning and advantage thinking. We conduct home visits to everyone on the programme as involving the parents/guardians make the programme more effective. We expect by the end of 2017 to have delivered this programme directly to 300-400 girls and their families.
In addition to the workshops we have a separate group of twelve girls who have been referred to us via the police, as they have been the victims of trafficking and sexual abuse. These girls require more specialised support and we work with more closely with them twice a week and provide screening and psycho- social counselling from our partner Baylor College of Medicine through referrals from us.
Pioneers of Change has also started their own Football team, for girls aged between 13-15 – these games are now attracting large crowds! We will soon be opening a Drop In Centre/Gym. To avoid stigma attached to seeking services (a major barrier identified in our research) we are promoting it first and foremost as a gym, where in addition to running exercise sessions and dance classes, we will have separate rooms which will be used for screening, counselling and confidential guidance and signposting.
We work hand in hand with the Chief Child Prosecutor in delivering our programme. Other partners include the Child Court, Police and Kawale Health Centre. We are also part of a network called Eye of the Child in which organisations work together to support victims of trafficking. In June we were invited by DFID to present our research on child trafficking and work in this area.
To complement our work tackling this area, our regular Hear Us Youth Festival this year focussed on Child Trafficking. Workshops exploring this topic and methods to avoid becoming a victim of trafficking were delivered to more than 300 school children at the festival.