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Children’s Ark to continue fight against child trafficking

Published: 
Monday, May 30, 2016
Dr Kongshiek Achong Low, vice president of The Children’s Ark, left, with Margaret Sampson-Brown, head of the victims and witness support unit; Alana Wheeler, head of the counter trafficking unit; April Bermudez, director; Simone de la Bastide, president; Anuradha Koirala, founder of Maiti Nepal; Dhisha Moorjani, director, and Bishwo Khadka, of Maiti Nepal, at the function on May 20 at the Hyatt Regency hotel.

As non-profit organisation The Children’s Ark winds down from an intense six-month awareness campaign which saw them tackling issues such as child trafficking, sex, drugs and the illegal labour trade, they are vowing to continue their aggressive campaign.

At the organisation’s fundraiser at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, on May 20, which was attended by President Anthony Carmona and National Security Minister Edmund Dillon, Anuradha Koirala—founder of Maiti Nepal— delivered the feature address on child and human trafficking during which she contextualised the trade not only in Nepal but internationally. She referenced T&T and the work being done by The Children’s Ark.

Koirala’s passion and commitment towards ending the scourge of child trafficking for the sex, drug and labour trades were evidenced by the statistics that confirmed her involvement in the rescue of more than 29,000 girls and young children in Nepal.

President of The Children’s Ark, Simone de la Bastide, described Koirala’s address as riveting, adding that it had left many audience members in tears as they listened to her relate the tales of the victims who had suffered endlessly.

De la Bastide said, “She spoke with passion and with a heavy heart of wanting to put an end to human and child trafficking in our world.”

Revealing that they would be working along Maiti Nepal as they moved forward, de la Bastide estimated that approximately $1 million had been spent on the public campaign which included media advertising as well as posting messages at all sea and airports, over 600 schools, Internet, clubs, parks and social networking sites.

De la Bastide warned that while, “sexual abuse, illiteracy, gang membership, poverty and homelessness contribute to child trafficking, any child can be held against their will despite their race, colour and age. Because it is done in such a clandestine manner, relevant knowledge and education on trafficking is instrumental in tackling the problem. It is only by raising awareness that everyone—including civil society, government, the media, parents and teachers together—can make a difference.”

Patron of the organisation, President Carmona, spoke of the efforts made to rescue and protect the nation’s children through the volunteerism, dedication and tenacity of the members in their relentless fight to make the world a better place for displaced children.

“You are giving voice to a sometimes disadvantaged demographic in our society, protecting and preserving their innocence, and giving them the opportunity to enjoy a healthy childhood as they should,” he said.

He added that as the world battled the growing and ugly phenomenon of human trafficking, it was critical that governments, NGOs and other stakeholders facilitate and accommodate victims of human trafficking who have been rescued.

President Carmona called for programmes to be implemented to ensure that victims receive adequate support, medical treatment and psychiatric care.

Human trafficking is defined by the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and the Protocols thereto as, “The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.”

During his contribution, National Security Minister Edmund Dillon denounced human trafficking which he claimed was an “ignoble crime against humanity.”

With the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, the global community including T&T had resolutely condemned the practice of human slavery and trafficking as they sought to constitutionally defend and uphold human rights and dignity.

Dillon said, “I believe we can all concur there is still much work to be done with respect to promoting the rights of our nation’s children.” He said this included educating people on how to become more aware and involved in advocating for children’s rights, considering this country’s vulnerability as a transit point for human trafficking.

Dillon praised the work being done by The Children’s Ark and the Children’s Authority to protect and uphold the rights of our children, as well as contribute to public education on the subject matter.

The Children’s Ark said it intended to focus on “at risk” youth in crime prone areas using sport and education as a tool for positive change that will be of long-term benefit to large numbers of marginalised children whether underprivileged, abused, abandoned, addicted or otherwise challenged.