Ester Kalonga is a married young woman aged 23 who hails from Balaka district in the area of Traditional Authority (T/A) Kalembo. In September, 2013 the woman together with her friend survived an incident of human trafficking when some unscrupulous people promised to offer her an employment in Maputo, Mozambique. The most disheartening part of the case is that she was never told what type of employment it was.
As is the case with most victims of human trafficking, poverty was the main driving force and as such she did not even care to ask what type of job it was.
Apart from poverty, Ester also explained that she had a lot of family problems and going to Mozambique seemed to her like a good idea to escape from his abusive husband. She said that her husband used to beat her up more especially when the husband was drunk. She lamented that sometimes, her husband sent her together with their children outside the house in the middle of the night and in such scenarios they spent all night in the open.
Eventually, someone from Blantyre told her that there is an employment opportunity in Maputo, the capital city of Mozambique and she quickly jumped for the offer without further ado.
She was informed by the person that a certain Malawian who lives in Mozambique will come to pick her up in September, 2013. According to their agreement, she was not supposed to spend any money in terms of transportation costs as their helper was ready to meet all the costs. Furthermore, the woman had no passport and she was told that the person who was facilitating their move to Maputo will go through the entire ordeal and that there was no need for a passport. The woman was told that what will be required from her will be her thumbprint which will be stamped on a letter that will act as a passport.
The woman believed all this to be formal and she thought there was no need to ask if she will be provided with a work permit or not. Ester said she placed all her trust in the people she barely knew because their explanations were very convincing.
When all was agreed she and her friend left Mangochi for Blantyre waiting for their last contact from Mozambique to pick them up. They stayed at Manje location in Soche Township for ten days at a house owned by their Malawian contact who also happens to be the one who paid for their transport fare from Mangochi.
During the days she was staying in Blantyre, her relatives in Balaka contacted YONECO through a Community Development Facilitator who works with the organization as a volunteer. The volunteer, Margret Loga, mobilized the people and together they made arrangements to contact the woman and her friend who were summoned back to their home of origin in Balaka.
Currently, Ester is back in the village and she says she will never make such a decision to leave the country again. She stated that her decision was to some extent fueled by anger at how her relatives were unwilling to give her support and assistance despite telling them how miserable her marriage was.
Ester, who is a mother of two, stated that she is in search of a job within the country so that she can solve some of her financial dilemmas.
Loga and YONECO’s district Manager for Balaka district, Veronica Mkandawire explained that YONECO is doing a lot on the ground in terms of disseminating information to people in the rural communities on the issues pertaining to the existence and the dangers of human trafficking.
Balaka is among the districts where issues of human trafficking are rampant. YONECO, with a lot of gratitude to Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), is implementing a project called ‘Dzukani’where by the organisation is working tirelessly to abolish human trafficking in the area.