nybody can become a victim of trafficking or exploitation--
even those with college degrees and bright hopes for their future. Natalie was a university graduate and owned a small shop
Still, she was deceived.
Though she had a stable job and decent income in Uganda, Natalie dreamed of expanding her business and providing more for her sick mother. One day, her brother-in-law told her of a booming restaurant in Asia that was looking for a new manager. This would be the perfect opportunity for Natalie to gain valuable international experience and make $1000USD per month, which was much higher than her current salary.
Natalie's brother-in-law introduced her to an agent who helped her get a passport, visa, and round-trip airfare. She knew she would owe him a little money later, but with her new job, it would be no problem to pay him back. Excited to see the world and invest in her future, she boarded a plane in early 2013.
However, Asia was not what she expected.
When she arrived, she was picked up at the airport by another Uganda woman who gave her a mini skirt and a box of condoms and told her to go to the club to find customers. Confused, Natalie explained how she'd come to work in a restaurant.
That's when the woman told her she'd been deceived-- there was no restaurant job. "You owe me $7000USD for all I've done for you", the woman told her. "And there is no job. Your job is prostitution."
The female trafficker took Natalie's passport and when she refused, she was beaten and kicked out of the apartment. Alone in a foreign country where she couldn't speak the language and feared the police, Natalie had nowhere to go. The trafficker continued to threaten Natalie and her mother. Fearing for their lives, Natalie decided there were no options for her. If she ever wanted to be free, she just needed to do the job and pay back the money. But it wasn't that simple.
Natalie was forced to sleep with up to 8 men per night. She wasn't allowed to keep any of the money she received, and after 8 months her trafficker told her she still owed $5500.
After 18 months, Natalie's trafficker disappeared, most likely arrested and deported. Though Natalie was now "free", she had no passport, no job, no money, and nowhere to stay. She continued to do prostitution to survive and attempt to save money to return back home, but it was never enough.
Receiving our phone number from a friend, Natalie called us in 2017. After conducting an initial interview and developing a custom intervention plan, we were able to provide Natalie with safe shelter, food, immigration services, medical care, a plane ticket home, and a small re-entry stipend to support her as she arrived back home. Additionally, our partners in Uganda were able to receive her and provide counseling and support as she worked hard to rebuild her life.
THANK YOU for stepping in to support Natalie in her continuing Journey to Freedom.
*To protect confidentiality, all names have been changed and stock photos may be used.
Minor details may have been edited.