Phoenix, AZ (PRWEB) January 17, 2013
PHOENIX (Jan. 17, 2013) – The United Nations reports that 2.4 million people around the world are victims of human trafficking at any one time. President Barack Obama has declared January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
In Mozambique, Food for the Hungry (FH) is overcoming threats of human trafficking by addressing economic forces that lead to forced labor and prostitution. FH’s village-level savings and loan groups help vulnerable men and women build income generating opportunities and confidence that protects them from the lure of traffickers.
One woman who escaped the lure of the sex trade is Ana Paula Joao in Tambarara, Mozambique. Joao is 39 years old and was divorced by her husband for supposedly being barren. “She had no means for survival for herself and the children she already had and so she returned to her parent’s home,” said Halkeno Terfasa, FH/Mozambique Provincial Programs Manager.
Upon Joao’s return to her parents, a friend introduced her to a savings group sponsored by FH. Through this group, members save their own money and lend cash to each other in order to fund micro-businesses and meet other pressing needs. They also gain small business training, money management guidance and values training.
Joao used the resources gained through this group to begin a business selling firewood. She gained confidence as she saw how she could run a business and provide for her family’s needs.
As her firewood business got underway, Joao was approached by a man who regularly recruited women to become prostitutes by first asking them to become waitresses at his bar. “He tried to lure her with the promise of making a lot of money,” Terfasa said. “But Ana soon realized that the job he was describing involved becoming a sex worker. She promptly refused. She was protected because she was financially stable and had learned good values through the savings group training.”
Over time, Joao’s business flourished. She was able to purchase a bicycle to make it easier to gather firewood for sale. In two years time she increased the size of her farmland and built her own house.
While the success of one woman in Mozambique seems like a tiny victory in a huge war, this story is being experienced by many others in FH’s areas of operation including Asia, Latin America and Africa. Joao’s life shows how increased opportunities brought through savings groups and other poverty alleviation programs are vitally powerful forces in the fight to end modern day human trafficking.
Founded in 1971, Food for the Hungry provides emergency relief and long-term development programs in more than 20 countries to help the world's most vulnerable people. Learn more by visiting http://www.fh.org. Social connections include http://www.facebook.com/foodforthehungry and http://www.twitter.com/food4thehungry.