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Salvation Army Uganda trains volunteers on basics to counter human trafficking

A group photo of Volunteers and The Salvation Army team after the closure of the training on Thursday, April 18, 2024 in Masese Jinja City (All Photos/DailyExpress)

Jinja, (UG):- Salvation Army Uganda, a faith-based organization aimed at preaching the gospel and fighting social injustice this week conducted a training for Volunteer Community Champions to help in implementing and promoting their project which is intended to counter acts of human trafficking in the eastern parts of the country and other areas.

The two-day training conducted from Wednesday, April 17th to Thursday 18th attracted over 20 participants at the Officers Training College (OTC) of the Salvation Army in Masese, in eastern Uganda’s Jinja City.

Through their two-year project of Anti-Human Trafficking project-Uganda, the organization aimed to equip the volunteers with knowledge and skills which will help them to among others; have effective communication during their work, creating resilience in volunteers based on a number of experiences and ensure proper ways of reporting cases to line authorities.

During the training, the participants who were drawn from Namisindwa, Namayingo, Busia, Mbale and Tororo districts which are prone to human trafficking were taken through a number of factors for human trafficking including the under-root factors and push factors which include among others; poverty and domestic violence. They were also equipped with their roles and elements as well as different forms of human trafficking.

Captain Dorothy Mula, the social service secretary/ child protection officer at Salvation Army Uganda urged volunteers to provide psychosocial support tailored to the needs of survivors of human trafficking in their communities and also fight stigma among survivors of human trafficking.

Cap Dorothy Mula taking volunteers through psycho-social support, on the right is Capt Stephen Muia

The Territorial Secretary for Women’s Ministries under Salvation Army Uganda, Lt. Col. Irene Sichibona challenged the volunteers to be steadfast in their commitment to fight against trafficking while knowing that it is not in vain and God stands with them for good outcomes. She also emphasized them to benefit the victims and community by making great use of the knowledge and skills which they obtained.

“I challenge you to be steadfast in your commitment to fight against human trafficking while knowing that God is with you and your work is not in vain. Kindly go out and use the knowledge to benefit the victims and people out there in your respective communities,” Ms Sichibona emphasized in her remarks to the volunteers.

The organization’s Development Secretary, Capt. Stephen Muia told DailyExpress that they have an obligation to educate people that human trafficking exists and also fight the vice to ensure that people are not harmed or exploited by human traffickers.

Cap Muia said they do this by training volunteers to be their voice in communities by equipping them with knowledge and skills to respond to issues well and create awareness.

“We are trying to equip them better so that they can respond well to these issues so that they continue to raise awareness. Whenever they are out there, we follow them because we have a Community Prevention Coordinator (CPC), who works with them on the ground and makes sure that they are doing the right thing,” Cap. Muia said.

He added; “One of the approaches we use is to mobilize people in groups of around 30 members for community initiatives like village savings and our volunteers will use such platforms to sensitize them and they will also spread the same information to families and villages such that everyone has the message on human trafficking and they don’t involve in it.”

The Anti-Human Trafficking Project

Salvation Army’s Anti-Human Trafficking project manager, Mr. Wataka Emmanuel told this publication that their main areas in the project are the border eastern districts of Namayingo, Namisindwa, Mbale, Tororo and Busia because they have porous borders where people are always trafficked to other countries without knowledge of the public.

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He pointed out poverty as one of the challenges in fighting the vice given the rigid mindset of community members who fall victim in an attempt to better their future. Wataka says that the legal framework in the country has some gaps like the police which are not well empowered in Anti-human trafficking operations, even though the government is trying to ensure that the framework is up to date.

“The attitude of the people who are not flexible to change is one of the challenges we face while fighting human trafficking. Because of the prevailing circumstances of poverty, people tend to risk by accepting to be trafficked after promising them heaven on earth wherever they are taken with the hope to work for a better future,” Mr Wataka said before calling upon vigilance from the public and also joining them in hunting down the vice.

Mr. Wataka Emmanuel, Salvation Army’s programs manager carrying on a training session to Volunteer Community Champions

Mr Wataka was concerned with the cases which go unreported given the porous borders in such districts, however, he tasked the volunteers to train the community to detect all cases of human trafficking and bring the habit to zero.

The research policy and advocacy coordinator Ms. Julian Ongodia said they (Salvation Army) aim to counter human trafficking activities in all parts of the country and Eastern border districts in particular. She called upon the participants to stand in communities as icons of change by ensuring that community members are sensitized about the dangers of human trafficking as well as carrying on their roles to champion the process.

Given the severe negative impacts of the act, Ms Ongodia advised the volunteers to prioritize the prevention of the vice through sensitization and ensuring psycho-social support to the survivors of human trafficking, adding that the project which started in January this year to fight human trafficking will stretch to 2026 and that they expect the project to impact positively by the end of two years.

Ms Julian Ongodia carrying on a training session to Volunteers in the training

Volunteers happy with skills earned

The participants (Volunteers) who took part in the training told this publication in an exclusive interview about the skills and knowledge attained and pledged to utilize it in their respective communities while fighting human trafficking by raising awareness. They noted porous borders in their areas which have been fueling trafficking to the extent that others cross from Uganda to Kenya using boats.

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“I am going to create awareness in my community about human trafficking. The problem is worse because in my community which borders Uganda and Kenya, traffickers are using boats to traffic people to Kenya but this training has equipped me and I pledge to sensitize the public on the negativity of human trafficking,” Mr. Wandera Robert, who came from Buchimo landing site, Mutumba Sub County in Namayingo district said.

Ms. Khayongo Lydia from Buhonzo community, Namboko Sub County in Namisindwa district said they now have the necessary skills to sensitize communities and commended the Salvation Army team for the training which she said was of great importance to them.

Other volunteers like Mr Lukong Kelvies from Masafu in Busia district and Mr Biketi Wilberforce from Lwakhakha in Namisindwa district say they will transfer knowledge to the public and will now handle victims in the best ways and prevent human trafficking as champions on the frontline.

“As a person on the frontline of anti-human trafficking, I have acquired the knowledge that I am to transfer to the community and we have learnt how to handle survivors who have fallen victim to the habit. Since I live at the porous border it is a very common habit but as a front liner, I will do my best to put this habit to an end in my community,” Mr Lukong said.

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