It was around a year and a half after my graduation and I was volunteering as a radio presenter at a local youth radio station down town. I remember it was around then when I was also doing a lot of freelance jobs and following my passion with poetry shows and art exhibitions. All these without substantial pay. I was still very much my parent’s child, still living at home and quite content with life at that point.
Two years down the line I started yearning to move out into my own apartment and have my… ‘space’, recently figuring out ‘space’ is a millennial thing. However, though I wanted this space that my brother, sister and friends had, I on the other hand had no means to move out. I wanted to have a lot other things a female breaking into adulthood wanted to have you know like to Own a Spaceship that would take me to My Resort on planet Venus, lol…what I mean is I had big dreams and the fire to execute them but there were other social anxieties working against me.
I was impatient with the process of acquiring my spaceship. I wanted to be my own person, experience life without cuddles of my parents, test myself, see how well I can do this life thing, I wanted all those and I wanted them today! At this point I decided to take a different trajectory. I started looking for a job. A process I gave up on a looooong time ago, simply because I believed it was not my thing but this were somewhat different times.
I remember coming across a job advertisement online about a cruise ship attendant or flight attendant and of course this meant travelling the world, being exposed to the multiracial world and and and. Needless to say my excitement could take me to the moon and back.
Since varsity I have been one to attend, organise and host a lot of seminars, workshops, entrepreneurial, social and sessions pretty much things with personal development tag to them. I once attended an event at the American Corner about computer literacy. The speaker was Ntate Tsepo Pitso and the session equipped us with the know-how of authenticating websites, emails, social media accounts e.t.c. After my excitement had subsided I started to wonder what if it’s a scam. My family and friends had the same concern.
I remembered ntate Pitso’s session and then started to realise a few anomalies to their email address. It was a personal email address but that was not enough for me to let an opportunity pass me by like that. I emailed anyway and when they emailed me back more loopholes were found. Still I continued. I was told I am late for registration but it was okay and that all I had to do was pay R3 500.00 late registration and R2 000.00 for my travelling licence. I was ready. The office was in Durban so I had my friends in KZN go and check the office, thank goodness they never went. I spent M100 airtime calling the SA Airways. I even called SA police who advised I call the airline. That was just fruitless. To this day I am thankful to have not gone to that particular office, who knows what could have happened to me.
There is a huge lack of jobs for youth in Lesotho. At the same time there is also a huge need for social gratification for we are humans with needs. In this tug of war there is a lot of casualties like loss of human lives literally or otherwise, crushed dreams, broken relationships, true, a lot of upsides equally.
Fast forwarding into 2019, I heard a lot of stories of men, women, young girls and boys who were trafficked to be exploited sexually or through child labour, organ harvesting and in many other ways for profits by their traffickers. I was working in one of the government ministries project and we travelled a lot. It was then when I got to travel to the most remote of places that I saw the desperate situation our country is in and the crucial and urgent need for alleviation of our people from poverty. It has made us blind to harm to an extend that some measures of safety that would include; leaving a name of the person one is leaving with to a promised job with a village chief feel like a waste of time.
The need for jobs is a great contributor to the increase in human trafficking in Lesotho. Though the police have around 54 cases reported and a few still in trail and Beautiful Dream Society has around 200 reported cases they have dealt with thus far, there are still a lot of cases uncovered. Victims are not coming forth to get help due to fear of societal judgment and rejection. The community is not educated with characteristics of human trafficking. A lot is still falling between the cracks and communities need to have a tight grasp on this matter.
I had a different view when thinking about this sometime, yes we need jobs and are poverty stricken however we still need to mind our lives. It is only when we are alive do we have a chance to change our situation. In preparing for a human trafficking awareness campaign and session at the American Corner and joining in the existing initiatives done by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital (Ts’epong) the Lesotho Mounted Police Service, Beautiful Dream Society and many other stakeholders. ‘Me Mojabeng Mosene from the society concluded it when she said “It is okay to get a job offer, it is good, just question the source, that is all we are saying”.
The inspiration behind this human trafficking awareness campaign particularly in my country Lesotho was the urgent need to equip people prone to human trafficking, which is everyone, with tools they can use to safeguard themselves from harm. It is not the poor nor the rich who are targets but the misinformed. Wherever a trafficker sees a need, that is where they capitalise. If the only thing standing between us and safety is information, why not gather that information and disseminate it. I really hope it will be useful to you as it was to me.
Stay safe and stand against Human Trafficking.
Check also the Human Trafficking Lesotho Facebook page to share any content that can bring more light on this issue. Also share as much as possible with as many people as possible. Your share can literally save a life.
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