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“Trafficking Slowed Down my Life”

Plan International in Togo is empowering children and preparing them for the future.

Implemented in 2013, Plan International’s “Fighting against Child Trafficking through Education and Vocational Training Project” supports vulnerable children in Togo and those who are victims of child trafficking by providing education or vocational training. It also reinforces the capacity of communities and youth to prevent child trafficking cases.

The Dantokpa market in Cotonou is one of the largest markets in West Africa. Many trafficked children from Benin and neighboring countries work here as vendors. Far from their homes, they struggle to survive in very harsh living conditions.

Aicha spent three years in Nigeria. This is her story:

"The woman who took me to Nigeria left me in a small town,” she said. “I thought I was going to stay with her and help her with the housework. But, she put me in a strange house which was fenced and locked with a key.

I worked all day long from 4 a.m. to 11 p.m. I had to take care of children, do the housework, and wash dishes and clothes. I was alone and had no one to talk to.

I never went out of the house in the three years I spent there.

The woman told me she would come back soon to get me, but she only came to receive the salary from my work from the house owners before she left.

I felt like I was suffocating. It slowed down my life and stopped my progress.

When I returned to my home village, I was ashamed of myself and I felt too old to go to school because my friends had already gone far in their schooling.

I came back home empty-handed, no clothes, no money, nothing. The bosses for whom I worked did not give me anything for my three years of service. And, when I escaped, I returned to the village with nothing.

Thanks to Plan International, though, I have learned the trade of dress-making. Plan has supported my apprenticeship and monitored it to ensure that everything is going on well.

I have also performed sketches with other young people in the village to explain why we should not accept child trafficking.

When I finish my apprenticeship, I will be able to settle down in my own workshop and feel at ease."

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