Perspectives from the edge of a balcony, a tipping point.

It`s a warm afternoon, the warmest it’s been these past three days, and I’m seated at the edge of a balcony soaking up the warm sunrays as I observe a group of individuals happily chatting. These are the members of different organizations, intellectuals and members of the religious community who have been discussing women and migration in the African Context at the Second session of The Religious and Migration in the 21st Century series of conferences. The convergence was at the Insituto Dimesse of Padua Langata in Nairobi from June 6th to 8th 2017. Reminiscing the discussions that have been presented for the last three days, for the first time I grasp Malcom Forbes idea that diversity is the art of thinking independently together. There wouldn’t be any justice if I left this conversation without really explaining why I for some apparent reason was seated at the edge of a balcony? thus, the narrative continues.

The theme of this conference “Women and Migration in the African Context”, was intended to explore the unique experiences of African women in migration and come up with effective solutions to their migration issues. It began with an analysis of the concept ‘feminization of migration’ which can briefly be explained as women being the largest population that is affected by migration issues, attributable to their high degree of vulnerability due to their social, economic status and institutional frameworks that are gender imbalanced. As HAART Kenya, we can attest to this – according to studies we have conducted on the internally displaced persons in Kenya 2017, 64.5% of victims are female while 34.5% are male. Considering this, we have commenced structuring our programs to be more gender sensitive, taking into consideration the different needs of men and women in order to attain equality and equity.

One of the key agenda tackled by the conference was a review of the Khartoum process – a brief history: the Khartoum process is one of three ongoing migration dialogue processes between Africa and the EU, launched in 2014. Kenya being a member state has been part of this conversation which embarks on creating a framework for policy and dialogue around the topic of human trafficking and smuggling and particularly, irregular migration. What does this mean for HAART? It provides a platform for developing partnerships at the regional and bilateral level between countries of origin, transit and destination to tackle irregular migration and criminal networks.

The religious groups were a major point of focus, describing how they have been addressing issues of women and migration in their institutions. Such groups form the largest contributors towards assisting vulnerable people in our society, therefore they are an integral stakeholder in our projects; giving an account of the practical things they were already doing in response to the various needs of migration and refugees, bringing into perspective the challenges faced by sea-fearers while on transit. Receiving such direct information, I was left to mull over, to what degree are religious groups involved in policy formulation and designing of various community projects. For HAART Kenya, one of the principles we center our programs around is partnership and co-operation; and in this regard, we have partnered with Misereor and Misean Cara, recognizing the value of having religious institutions as our stakeholders.

Back to the question, why I for some apparent reason was seated at the edge of a balcony? So, you see having been a part of such intense, intellectual, spectacular discussions not only am I soaking up sunshine but the foresight provided during these three days.

By Miriam Muthio

Highlights 2015

2015 gave immense opportunities to HAART to grow in its work of fighting human trafficking in the region. The organization grew in terms of capacity and experience, and the understanding of human trafficking and its dynamics within the region broadened thanks to the different cases handled.

Some of the most outstanding cases include assisting victims of trafficking who had been rescued from Libya the previous year. This was a group of about 30 women who were stuck in Libya after the war broke out. HAART offered psychosocial support and economic empowerment. Watching them heal from their ordeals and grow has been satisfactory. Slowly but surely they are able to stand on their own.
The other great achievement for 2015 was the Arts to End Slavery project. This was a project intended to spread information about human trafficking through art. The project popularly known as A2ES was very successful. It rounded up about 30 artists who came up with art pieces about human trafficking from paintings, to sculptures, photographs, and even poetry. The culmination of the project was done in a conference that saw different stakeholders working in the field of human trafficking attend. The good news is, the project will be on again this year and this time our partners PAWA254 will take the lead role in spearheading it.

Talking of partnerships, 2015 was a year in which HAART entered into many valuable partnerships with different stakeholders. We were involved in different forums such as the National Referral Mechanism workshop organized by UNODC, and we became part of new networks such as the Kenya National Human Rights Commission. This year also saw a lot of international travel by HAART staff to attend conferences, meetings and workshops by partners.

HAART also did a lot of research in 2015, including research on child trafficking. We held a validation meeting with stakeholders to get feedback from them about the research findings. This research will be used to come up with a manual for children and teachers to better their understanding about child trafficking. The other research, though not complete, is the research on the vulnerability of internally displaced people to trafficking. This is in partnership with GIZ and once it is out, we will share it with you.

Generally, HAART is satisfied by the work done in 2015 through teamwork. This is especially in victims’ assistance where we were able pick up new cases and assist, such as a group of about 20 women from Mathare slums in Nairobi. We were also happy with the growth in the staff members numerically and in expertise.

In 2016 we expect more growth as we fight human trafficking in the region.
By Phyllis Mburu

HAART in the STAR

Sophie Otiende is a member of the HAART family and her story was featured in the Star “Sophie Otiende Realises Her Dream to Help Others”. The story also talks about human trafficking and the work of HAART, read the full story here.

Pictures from a workshop

Launch of haartstories.org

Welcome to haartstories.org! This is a project by Awareness Against Human Trafficking (HAART) which is an organization in Kenya dedicated to ending human trafficking – also known as modern day slavery.

This blog is dedicated to stories from survivors and victims of human trafficking, stories from our work and our volunteers as well as any other thing that we may find interesting. The stories can also be from our friends and partners or just news stories that we feel are relevant for our readers.

Please feel free to add comments, questions or submit a story we can feature to info@haartkenya.org