Life in the victims department.

A DAY AT THE OFFICE

It’s been four months since I joined HAART Kenya in the Victims department. “Multiple phone rings at the office everyone too busy to pick up, as they try to find a solution to a case or solve an urgent victim’s problem. I pick up a minute later to my surprise it’s a referral case. The person on the phone states “I need to understand what you do as an Organization.” I explain what HAART Kenya does in relevance to human trafficking cases then my caller hangs up. I dial back and the caller says that they need help to resolve a case on child neglect. I am quick to remember a referral partner organization that deals with such cases and direct the caller to a relevant contact person to get help because we deal majorly in assisting potential victims of human trafficking.

I take a minute to breathe in and out. In that moment my colleague calls out the case workers and what follows is that we have a new case that needs urgent attention. At that moment everything I was doing comes to a stop because our main objective is that a potential victim comes first at any given time. We get the contact details of the victim, full names, phone contact, emergency contact and then ensure that the victim whether a minor or an adult is safe in the environment he or she is in. If it needs an immediate follow up one of the case workers is tasked with that objective. If a minor is not safe and the referral body has the child an immediate rescue is done on the child and they are transferred to a safe location; the HAART Kenya shelter. Adults are requested to ensure they are secure before attempting to run or move from the situation there in.

Another week passes and our cases pilling up. The Case workers up and down trying to ensure that our victims at hand are safe and all documentation needed for the victim’s psycho-social support, home tracing, referral agencies and home re-integration are up-to date. The Case Management system is an easy to use, friendly online platform that helps us update past and recent cases anytime and anywhere. This is our main tool while at the office as it enables every case worker and the management team as a whole to have a clear outline of all the cases handled within every week’s schedule.

This department handles all potential victims ensuring proper documentation, making follow up phone calls to victims and referral organization that help us in times of home tracing, home re-integration and relevant support.  This department has our In-house therapist who handles cases that need urgent psycho-therapy sessions on our victims. The office has a therapy-counseling room for our victims who show up when sessions are organized for them.

We have monthly department meetings which take place on the first week of the every month. This meeting helps us share our experiences while handling different victims and their case histories, it helps us gain positive impacts on the field from each case workers side of the story and lastly it challenges from the environments we work in. It is always necessary to ensure that all details are shared among the victim department personnel in relevance to the victims’ well-being. On this day we always have a self-care program that entails maybe a Yoga session or a massage session that helps everyone relieve from the stressful day to day work by improving our morale, mental and physical state.

A DAY ON THE FIELD

A day on the field is not as easy as it looks or sounds when it requires you to move up and down finding referral letters for cases given to us by children officers. A day following up on a minor victim as a case worker entails some tasks such as moving from one area to another to ensure all children offices give us referral letters and ensuring that home tracing for the child has been done which later if successful leads to home re-integration with the family. Other cases that have court hearings are filled and send to our Legal team which works to ensure security for our minor victims who at that time are safe at the Shelter. On adult cases we make trips to areas they live in after they have been put through a psycho-social support system to enable them re-integrate well, back to the society that was once evil to them.

My best moments are the days when am tasked with cases and it turns out successful; not to me personally but to the different potential victims we help through HAART’s psycho-social support, re-integration back to society or when a minor, who gets back the right to see her or his family, or the right to education and the freedom to smile and live as a child once more.

By John Njeru

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