2 years is half a lifetime for a four year old.
Anniecel, our MD, had to leave her son of 2 years old to go to Hong Kong to work as a domestic in order to give her son a proper education so that he had a decent chance in life.
As a bank employee at home, she earned £200 ($300) /month – as a domestic in Hong Kong, £600 ($850). She’s missed his birthdays, family Christmas’s, first day at school. She gets to see him for 10 days every 2 years.
In Hong Kong, she had to sleep in a linen cupboard, steal food from her employer to eat in the toilet as “eating” was taking her away from paid time – she would have to get up at 3:00am to make noodles for her employer whenever he wanted.
She was one of the lucky ones! One Chinese employer is currently serving a 5 year prison term for so badly beating her Filipino maid. Another was found dead in a deep freezer having been there over 4 weeks. Others have been trafficked to China as part of the sex trade.
Over 2 million Filipinos have to go abroad to earn a liveable wage.
In sub-Saharan Africa, children as young as 6 are taken from their parents and made to work on cacao plantations using machetes and spraying industrial insecticides and working 100 hour weeks in clear breach of UN guidelines. The Ivory Coast and Ghana providing roughly half of all the world’s chocolate.
Modern-day slavery affects 46 million worldwide including 11 million children.
You may think it can’t happen here, but UK statistics claim over 13,000 involved in the UK but government sources admit this is just the tip of the iceberg. Vietnamese working in nail bars, children being used as inner-city drug mules, pop-up brothels in the Lake District, some of the last places you would expect to see this kind of abuse!
Moreover, the problem is increasing! The largest increase in modern-day slavery in 2017 was recorded in Europe. The migrant crisis and forced marriages contributing to much of this increase with Romania, Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Bulgaria particularly fairing badly. Outside the EU, Turkey has seen a significant increase.
What can we do?
It’s easy to think the problem is “somewhere over there”, but with the problem right on our doorsteps, we need to do something! Raising public awareness is paramount, making people aware of whats going on and trying to alleviate the problem at grassroots level by allowing rural communities to start earning a reasonable livable wage and so reduce the tendency for youngsters to abandon everything and move abroad and fall victim.
Forcing multinationals to buy from ethical sources helps. 66% of the coffee from the Ivory Coast and Ghana is purchased by Cadburys and Nestle, despite them having modern-day slavery policies.
We are buying coffee and cacao from the Philippines, distributing it here and in Europe and returning all profits back to the producing communities as aid.
We are starting a movement to increase awareness and using trade to produce the funds to help fight this and improve the preconditions leading to this abuse. We see education as the key. Improve children’s education, make them and the young adults aware of the dangers and what to look out for. Help us to help them.
For more details, please visit the website at www.lifeaid.solutions/introduction
Thank you for your time and attention.