Spotlight on Community Action for Rural Development: The Long Road from the Street to School
Community Action for Rural Development (CARD) is implementing a project focusing on child trafficking in Tunkia Chiefdom, Sierra Leone. In their project, CARD explains the Human Anti-Trafficking Act adopted in 2005 and sensitizes communities to the hazards of trafficking children. As a result, people are gradually reevaluating the confidence they placed in others who ask to take their children, especially relatives, under the pretext of sending them to school in bigger towns in Sierra Leone or Liberia.
Kaditu was one of those children who was trafficked to Liberia. Kaditu was born in Gorahun, Tunkia chiefdom. She lost her father when she was very young and lived with her mother until 2003. Though her ordeal was extraordinary, CARD was able to enroll her in school, where she is today. This is her story:
“In February I was taken by my cousin to attend school in Firestone, Liberia. We traveled on the road and crossed the Liberian border at Gendema. The next day we continued to Habre – Firestone. The road was terrible. On our way, my cousin was very nice to me and gave me a lot of encouragement. On arrival at Habre, I started selling cake, which I did for 11 months. I stayed with my cousin for two years without going to school, and because of the distance, my family members did not know. Once in a while, I reminded my cousin about my schooling, but she would usually say something like “let’s wait until the end of the month.”
At first, when I was selling, I didn’t know how to speak the Liberian language. Some people would take my cake without paying for it. If I would insist, the person would sometimes beat me. At home, if I didn’t bring the correct amount of money, I would be asked to pay back. Failure to pay led to beating or going without food, and sometimes I was even sent out of the house. I set out early in the morning to sell and returned late in the evening. After that I would still have to clean the dishes, launder and clean the compound.
After two years of staying with my cousin, I insisted again that I should go to school. My things were thrown out of the house. I decided to come back to Gorahun because I had no other option. Since I did not have money, I had to walk from Habre to Monrovia, which is about 40 miles (64km). I slept on the road for two nights. In Monrovia, I didn’t know the road to my home and because I had no money, I decided to stay a while. One sad morning, I was caught by two men who wanted to sell me. One of them said I should be sold there and then, and the other said they should first take me home. The argument which ensued drew the attention of a man nearby. He intervened and took me away from them to his home. These guys came several times to attack him at night but thank God they did not succeed. Luckily, this man happened to be a Sierra Leonean and from Tunkia chiefdom as well. He and his wife took me as one of their children and they sent me to school. After he discovered where my family was staying he sent them a message and asked them to collect me from his address in Monrovia.
My mother, who had heard from CARD about child trafficking, came and brought me back home. Now CARD has enrolled me and provided support for my schooling. I will take my education seriously.”