I was trafficked to Lebanon in 2019. I received a call from my friend who was living there. She told me her employer’s friend needs a worker, so she recommended me to him. I discussed with him on the phone and then worked on my passport. He directed me to someone in The Gambia, where I collected some money for my passport application and other logistics.
Before going to Lebanon, I studied hotel management and I was working at a restaurant. I was motivated to travel, because what the job was paying me was not enough to cater to my needs and that of my family.
When I reached the airport in Lebanon, my ‘master’ took all my travel documents and told me they should be kept by him, since he has bought me already. I was surprised, but I had no other option at that time. He took me to his house, where he lives with his wife and two daughters.
In the first 2 months, things were very normal. All of them were nice to me and I did not have any issues. However, after that, I began to have problems with my ‘master’ because, he would try to make sexual advances when his wife was out of the house. Because of my reluctance, he made life very difficult for me.
I got fed-up and called one of my friends who linked me with her agent. Both of them helped me to escape. I then escaped from my ‘master’ and went to my friend’s agent for help. Unfortunately, that was even worse. The agent kept me in custody in his office with a Senegalese and a Nigerian national. We were there for four months without proper food or other basic needs. He only visited us once in a day to bring us substandard food. It was so terrible. The Nigerian national ended up passing away.
I finally escaped from his custody and later stayed with my Gambian friends, seven of them, who rented a house. I remained there until last year, when we finally returned home.
Now that I returned, I want to start a business and support myself and my family. I have been in touch with the International Organization for Migration (IOM). They are currently supporting me to start a cement business. If this materializes, it will help me a lot as, since I returned, I have not been engaged in any income-generating activity, and life is becoming very challenging for me.
Commemorating World Day Against Trafficking in Persons is very important, and it will help to raise awareness about the dangers associated with such journeys. I think our voices as survivors of human trafficking are very important, because we went through the journey and have seen what transpired there. I don’t wish anyone to embark on this journey. Young people should be aware, so that they will not be trapped into this.
Sainabou* has received food supplies and is in the process of receiving reintegration assistance from IOM, through the US Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons’ Emergency Victim Assistance Fund.