A few years ago, in a rural part of south-west China, traffickers were working their way down the valleys and picking off women one by one, village by village. These villages were living in real and persistent poverty and so people were easily convinced to take traffickers up on the opportunities they were apparently providing.
But these promises were not what they appeared.
The Salvation Army started to respond to this situation in a number of ways. We worked alongside the local government to carry out prevention work in vulnerable communities, running workshops so that people are more aware of the dangers of trafficking and less prone to the false promises offered by traffickers.
More recently we have also been working to improve the income of those living in these areas, so that they are not so reliant on migrating in search of work.
Dulie has three children. She previously used her land to grow maize and walnuts. She has given a third of her land over to planting mulberry trees to feed silkworms that have been provided by The Salvation Army. After just the first harvest of silk cocoons she has earned enough money to build herself a new brick house. She can also now give her children pocket money, they eat better and their general standard of living has improved. Her hope is to increase the amount of land she uses for mulberries, to increase her production and income.
Now women would rather stay in their communities than move elsewhere.
Alongside this, the Government has also been implementing stricter policies and harsher punishments for trafficking offenders. This new-found knowledge and income possessed by the villagers means that traffickers no longer even visit these villages, because they now know that there’s nothing for them there. A great example of freedom being proclaimed!
Martha recently graduated from the support programme at The Salvation Army's Mbagala Kwetu Counselling & Support centre in Tanzania. This is her story.
Martha is from Dodoma where she lived with her grandmother as both her parents had died. Her grandmother was paralysed and it was difficult for her to look after Martha or send her to school. A “good neighbour” came to their home and offered to take Martha to the city where he knew people who would give Martha a job as a domestic worker.
When Martha got to the city, she was told she would have to work as a prostitute in one of the brothels.
Martha knew her great grandmother lived in the city, so she ran away to her house. Martha slept on the floor at her great grandmother’s house, but she too was unable to support Martha.
Martha heard about Mbagala Kwetu and went to the centre seek help. She was taken in and went through the programme including reunification with her family members in Dodoma, and training in hotel management.
Martha came from a Muslim family but converted to Christianity during her time at Mbagala Kwetu. She said, “I appreciate the inclusiveness of the programme and was glad to be treated like everyone else… There was no pressure to convert but I was impressed by the care of the Christians and the message of Christianity.” Martha has continued in her Christian faith and attends church regularly.
The Salvation Army covered Martha’s training fees and 3-month work placement. After Martha completed her placement she got a job as a cook at a local café where she is still working. Martha shared that she is very grateful to The Salvation Army for the help she received, and that she is enjoying her new settled life.