It has been said that children are our future and greatest treasure. Tragically, many children are disappearing in Africa. How does this happen? Due to the breakdown of family structure, children, many of whom are orphans, are at risk of neglect, abuse, and trafficking. There are several underlying factors for this.
First, many children are born without documentation or birth certificates. This makes it easy for a person to claim a child as his own with false papers and passports. Second, there are an unprecedented number of orphans due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. While extended family tries to take care of these orphans, sometimes there are too many orphans and not enough relatives to care for them. This leaves many in childheaded households. Poverty and lack of education also contribute to the problem. Thousands of young widows, without education or job skills, try to survive and provide for their families on less than $1 a day. All of these are factors.
Some family members, in a desperate effort to provide for their families and relatives, believe the lies that a “well wisher” gives that he or she has a good job and an education that can be provided for that orphan in another country. Sometimes this person will even pay a little bit of money to the community as a “thank you gift” for taking care of the orphans and the expenses incurred. What the community does not understand is that they have just “sold” that child into trafficking. In other countries, there are so many orphans that it is relatively easy to take several with you as you cross the border into another country. Recent news articles document the numbers of children being trafficked out of countries like Zimbabwe (see links on fpaaf.org). Just last week, a man was arrested for trafficking 16 children at one time out of Zimbabwe into South Africa. Sadly, this is not a rare occurrence but happens almost daily.
Human trafficking is the fastest growing industry in the world, and it brings revenues of over $800 billion annually. Soon it will pass illegal drugs as a drug can be sold and used one time; a human can be sold and used over and over and over again. Even more tragic is that the younger the victim the higher the price received.
Thousands of African children have been found in brothels in Europe and Asia. They are now also being found in the U.S.A. While it is vital to rescue those being trafficked, it is better to prevent the trafficking in the first place. Organizations, like Fingerprints Across Africa, are already on the ground in Africa working in partnerships with local communities and churches providing safe alternatives. These alternatives include providing day care centers, schools, skills training facilities, meals, and long-term foster homes. Each of these solutions have caring adult oversight ensuring accountability and safety for the children.
Become aware, get involved, and in the process save Africa’s greatest treasure — her beautiful children.
TAGS: Africa, children, trafficking, treasure CATEGORIES: Rhonda