It’s a disturbing reality of poverty that some grow rich by exploiting the poorest members of society. Although the economically and socially disadvantaged have little in the way of possessions, their labor, bodies, and children remain sought-after commodities, that feed the human trafficking trade. Factors including lack of local employment, inadequate access to education, political instability and armed conflict influence a communities’ ability to protect its most vulnerable citizens – from all forms of exploitation.
Predators are not always easily identified; they can and do, insert themselves into vulnerable communities by gaining the trust of local leadership, and families struggling to meet their children’s basic needs. These individuals promise educational sponsorships at boarding schools, employment opportunities beyond the local townships, and assure families that their loved ones will be well cared for. The false promise of an escape from crippling poverty, and the hope of accessing education, is often enough for families to relinquish their children into the hands of virtual strangers. Sadly, many children (of all ages) are trafficked for the purposes of servitude, unethical adoptions, sex work, or worse.
FPA’s Director, Carrie West, witnessed these exploitive tactics on a 2009 trip to Uganda. What was promoted as a trip to assist vulnerable mothers living in a dangerous rock quarry, turned out to be an opportunity for a corrupt adoption agency to solicit children (with the help from a trusted Ugandan facilitator) for international adoption. Birth families were not told that their children would be leaving Uganda permanently. This experience, and countless others like it, is the catalyst for the work FPA does. In a 2015 interview with The Observer, West explains: