MARY WARD LORETO is planting hope with a human rights approach to combating modern day slavery. This challenging mission is implemented through works of justice, education, grass roots action and systemic change.
The aim is to eradicate poverty, the prime cause for human trafficking.

Month: October 2014

Mona – how she became a victim of trafficking

Mona has been trafficked for three years. When she was fifteen years old, she fell in love with a guy who was about twenty two years old. Her family was very conservative, so she used to meet him secretly for five months. When her brother was told by his friends about her relationship, he went immediately to his father and told him everything. Her parents told her to break up this relationship but she did not. One day when he appeared at her school she felt her heart beating fast. They started their secret relationship again. She was afraid of being discovered again by her family, so they decided together to go to Italy. Mona’s boyfriend arranged their illegal trip and they departed by night.

During that trip she was raped by her boyfriend and his friend. She knew then that she was going to be trafficked but she couldn’t escape. They blindfolded her with a scarf until they got inside the brothel, after which she didn’t see her boyfriend anymore. Mona realised that they were not in Italy, but she was sent to Greece. One year later, she was sold to a tutor who sent her illegally to Italy. She was a sex slave there for two years. She heard the tutors saying that she was an asset for their brothel, since she was very beautiful and the clients would pay a fortune for her.

Mona has been isolated many times, held in a small mouldy room, without toilet facilities and without food and water for two days. She was very badly beaten. In case she refused to serve to the clients, she was threatened with being sent to that room again.

Mona has been rescued by somebody who was there as a client. Maybe he was not a client but she didn’t mind, she needed to have faith in somebody. She told him her story and that she discovered she was pregnant. He promised to return for her and he kept his promise and he took her away with him. When they got very far away from the brothel, in another city, he advised her to run away.

She found a way to call her family, but her father told her that she was not his daughter anymore. After that, she called her aunt who lived in Italy and stayed with her for some months. She was seven months pregnant when her tutor found her and beat her so badly that it caused her abortion. He threatened her that in case she would denounce him, they would kill her sister. Mona couldn’t live with her aunt, since she was not safe anymore. Her aunt paid somebody to bring her illegally to the UK. She was afraid that the driver would be a trafficker too, but in that moment she was so desperate that she didn’t mind what was going to happen to her. She has been travelling hidden in the van for five days. Eventually, the driver told her to jump off the van while he was driving slowly and to run for help.

“I was in the middle of nowhere, in the dark, and I was horrified, but I kept walking. I had the idea that somebody was following me but I couldn’t even turn my head. By daybreak I saw a man. He asked me questions but I didn’t know any English so I couldn’t answer him, I only pronounced my name. Then he called the police”.

Mona needed a lot of time to recover, and she had her moments when she thought it was worth dying rather than live with her sad memories. But then she told herself “I have been through many tortures and have survived, I am stronger now and will do it”.

Posted on Categories Albanian Story

Elsa’s story

Elsa has been trafficked for two years, from the age of nineteen to twenty one years old. She was pregnant and her boyfriend seemed to be happy with the fact that he was going to be a future father. She totally believed him, and planned together to go to Italy to deliver the baby there. Her family never knew her boyfriend, since they thought she had to break up with him and have an abortion.

Elsa was very happy during their first week in Italy. One day her boyfriend called her and told her that a friend of his was going to pick her up and they would all meet together at a restaurant for dinner, so she had to put on a nice dress. This supposed friend appeared at her door and said that he would wait for her at the car. While he was driving, she realized that he was taking the wrong direction. When Elsa told him this, he said: “Your boyfriend told me to take care of you, same as other girls”. That was the moment she realised she has been sold to a trafficker. She tried to get out of the car but it was impossible as he hit her with a gun and she became unconscious.

She woke up three days later and realised that the traffickers had given her drugs and had paid somebody to kill the child in her womb. The trafficker then told her that she was ready to work and asked for some appropriate clothes. That day she had her first client who used to be very violent to her. The next clients were violent too. Elsa says that she and other girls have been tortured, that when a client complained about her, she was not given food for two or three days and when she was ill they put her in a small room and left her there until she recovered naturally.

Elsa speaks Italian and used to beg for help to one client who felt sorry for her and planned an escape for her. It was not easy because he didn’t want to be discovered, and this took three months. One day as he was leaving, he let the door open so she could run out. While running in the street, she got into the back of a van without anybody noticing her. When the van stopped she ran outside and continued running, regardless of not knowing any direction. She had high shoes on, but she didn’t mind about the wounds in her feet. She was so frightened that she dare not stop for even a few seconds just to take off the shoes. By the end of the day, she lay in the park exhausted, where two girls who were passing by approached her and asked if she needed help. Elsa asked them to let her call the police, which they did. They brought her some food, gave her a scarf to cover her and went away.

Elsa is constantly in touch with her family who apologized to her for not supporting her during her pregnancy, but she knows that they could never imagine that this was going to happen to her. Elsa got her freedom, has a job, has her family, and she is happy. She has shown that she is a very strong girl.

Posted on Categories Albanian Story

Selma a trafficking victim

Selma was born in a small village. When she was a little child she used to be hopeful about her future, about having a career, and finding a good husband when she would grow up. Her dreams started to fade after her 12th birthday when she was not allowed to go to school anymore, and was not free to meet her friends. She realized that as a girl, her role was to do the house work, and that it was her father who would choose a husband for her.

When she was 23 years old, Selma met and fell in love with Albert. He used to be very gentle, and promised to marry her. She told her family about her boyfriend and sought their approval to marry him. Her parents blamed her for not respecting the honour of the family, and beat her badly when she told them that Albert belonged to another religion.

While her family was planning an engagement for her, she planned her escape with her boyfriend. Albert told her that he had a good friend in Greece who would help them with accommodation until he found a job. When they arrived in Greece, they met his friend in a bar, had a drink and a normal conversation. So Selma had nothing to doubt about.

While Selma thought they were driving home, Albert turned to her and said: “You have to go with him and do what he tells you to do”. Albert then left the car. Selma was terrified and started to shout for help and tried to open the door of the car, but the driver hit her and told to be silent, otherwise he would kill her. They arrived at an old building, where other girls were. He brought her into a small room with just a bed and a mirror, and raped her. “This is what will happen to you every day” he said and left the room.

Selma was being resistant to the first client, but he complained to the “boss”. She was beaten so badly that she could hardly move for three days. Then she had at least 3 or 4 clients a day for 14 months. She was not allowed refuse anybody. There was no way to escape. There were no windows and the doors were very high and always locked.

“Sometimes we could hear the traffickers talking and planning how to get rid of us in case we did not make enough money. They said they would kill us, burn us or throw us in the river. None of us wanted to be beaten and murdered so we had to try hard”.

Selma thinks he was part of the trafficking group, but one man saved her. She does not even know his name. For two months, Selma begged him to help her, but without any response. Then one night, when she less expected it, he told her to run from the backdoor and not to stop until she found herself very far from the house. She did so and   she ran for two hours. She was very thirsty and asked a woman for some water. The woman gave her water, helped seat her and then called the police.

Few months later, Selma called her family to let them know that she was alive and she would want to come back home. Her father replied “For us you are already dead”. That was a shock for her, but she kept moving ahead. At least she was free! Now she is working hard for her emotional recuperation and starting to build dreams for her future.

Posted on Categories Albanian Story

The case of Alba from the north.

Alba is a new 25-year-old mother with 2 children at young ages. Alba’s sister is missing and so, Alba is the main carer for her nephew (her sister’s son).  Alba got married when she was only 18 years old, mainly for economic reasons, because her family was very poor. She and her husband moved to Tirana in search of a better life and lived in a rented house.

However, there were considerable difficulties for them in Tirana. Although Alba worked as a cleaner, her husband did not find regular work and the earnings were not enough to support a family of five members.

Due to stress her husband was involved in a confict with another person and ended up in prison for two years. Alba remained alone with the children, facing endless expenses.

The only solution that she could find at that time was  prostitution. Although abused, intimidated and beaten, she continued as she was the only person earning money so that she could feed her children. But she could not continue for long. She gained the courage to speak with a sister who referred Alba to us.

Alba wanted to leave prostitution, but she was desperate for money and the most immediate things. An emergency response was granted to her by providing a monthly food package, clothes for children, and medical assistance. At the same time, a plan was made with her for finding  regular work. Psychological counselling was offered to her to overcome the trauma of abuse.

Now, two years later, Alba is re-united with her husband and is employed. But above all, she feels free and independent, hopeful and happy.

Posted on Categories Albanian Story