Annually, 1.2 million children become victims of human trafficking.1 Over decades, the numbers multiply into an atrocity. Human trafficking is "the acquisition of people by improper means such as force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them."2
In other words, when they are not kidnapping by force, human traffickers prey on the vulnerability of the marginalised by making false promises which are believed out of pure desperation. Ambitions, dreams and hopes are shattered as children become sex-slaves and forced labourers.
During the 2010 FIFA World CupTM TWR-Africa partnered with TWR-South Africa to develop a series of 12 programmes which were aimed at raising awareness about the extent of human trafficking in Africa. These programmes also sought to make people aware of the lies and schemes that are typically used by human traffickers. They were developed in conjunction with freelance journalist Angelique Ardé and Justice A.C.T.s - Alliance of Christians Against Trafficking. Here is an example of one of the 12 tragic testimonies used in this campaign:
My name is Thulani. My friends and family say I could play soccer before I could walk. At 17, I was the best on my team and captured the attention of many coaches in the area. Like most boys, I dreamt of being a star soccer player and of making big money. One day an agent for a soccer club in France showed up to watch me play. After the game, the agent told me that I had a real chance to make it as a professional player. The agent said he would help me get a visa to France, if I could just come up with the money for the air ticket. Once in France, I could live in a house full of African soccer players, and the agent would help me get signed by a professional soccer club. With the help of my family and friends, I managed to come up with just enough money to cover the expensive airfare to France. It hurt my family to scrape together so much money, but they thought that if I could make it, I would be able to take care of them forever.
At the airport in France, the agent was waiting for me with some friends. I got into a van, but they didn't take me to a home full of soccer players. They took me to a poor, dark part of the city. Before I even got out of the van, I was beaten and drugged. In this broken state, I was thrown into a house full of young men just like me. They are all drug addicts. They are all male prostitutes bought by other men. They are not playing soccer, and they are never going home. Neither am I.3
Each programme consisted of a true story, definitions, facts and figures, and contact numbers of places that can help. The programmes were made available to both secular and Christian radio stations throughout South Africa and were broadcast in various languages. This was not just any other trafficking campaign, but it was a campaign designed to show the world and Africa the value of these children. In the seventh of the 12 programmes the presenter states, "All children should be enjoying all the rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and above all to see children as God's precious creation who are loved by Jesus."
As Danie Du Preez said in May 2010, "After the 2010 FIFA World CupTM human trafficking will not disappear."4 Hence, TWR has used this campaign as a launching pad for God's Precious Little Ones to continue as a project into the future. Future programmes and initiatives are being planned and they will seek to educate people on the value of children, and how God sees children - all from a Christian perspective.
Pray for Thulani, and pray for the millions of children like him who are trapped and are drowning in a sea of despair. Also pray for TWR as we use the God's Precious Little Ones project to bring hope where there seems to be none.
3. This is the third of the twelve stories being broadcast by TWR. Story Sources: Angelique Ardé (Freelance Journalist & Editor); Loryn Tuffin; Graham Sayer; Justice A.C.T.s - Alliance of Christians Against Trafficking
4. Danie Du Preez, National Director, TWR-SA, Personal Interview
Published: 20 October 2010