He works on a ranch in South Africa. After a scant early breakfast, hardly enough nutrition for his growing, skin-and-bones body, he begins his long day – nine to twelve hours of hard labor.
He carries excruciatingly heavy loads as he works with his trafficker’s cattle. Wielding a machete, he cuts through tall grass as he tromps barefoot through fields to reach livestock. He already has one wound from cutting himself with the dangerous tool. Constant exposure to animal feces and dirt riddled with pesticide makes a severe infection likely.
He has no home, no family who knows he is missing. He has never been to school. If he tries to escape, he will be severely beaten.
He is ten years old.
Millions of children trapped in labor trafficking all over the world grow up in this reality (n.1). Precious children in similar conditions work in the industries that produce chocolate, coffee, cotton, clothing, shoes, cell phones, food . . . so much of what we use in everyday life.
Child Trafficking in Lesotho
Children in Lesotho are particularly vulnerable to recruitment by traffickers. With the second highest HIV/AIDS rate in the world, Lesotho’s orphaned children number in the hundreds of thousands. Child-led households are commonplace as older children do their best to care for their younger siblings. Their trauma, hunger, and desperation make them ripe for the picking in the eyes of traffickers.
Met with an adult’s offer of work and care, a vulnerable child often feels this is their best shot at providing for their family of children even younger and more vulnerable than them. Their youthful inexperience prevents them from perceiving the falseness or danger. Even if they did perceive something nefarious about the person, what better option do they have? Additional safety nets, such as school, social services, or childcare programs are not always available.
Whisked away from their home into the agricultural industries of neighboring South Africa, Mozambique, or Botswana, a child who goes with a trafficker is likely never seen again. No one knows he or is looking for him.
Children Less Vulnerable
For any of the children in our Lesotho childcare program, this tragic reality could have become their story. They arrived in our program having suffered the loss of their parents, without a familial support system, and having received little or no education. Some had suffered trafficking, others severe abuse. Some came with serious health issues that no one had attended to.
At Beautiful Dream Society, children who were once so vulnerable are out of harm’s way. Not only do they receive a safe place to live, medical care, and education, but also the love and support of a family environment. They grow, learn, and flourish in their younger years, paving the way to a brighter future as leaders of their generation.
Every single one of these precious ones would have been vulnerable to trafficking if they hadn’t arrived at Beautiful Dream Society. We are so thankful to be their guardians and to provide them with tailored education programs. We cherish the privilege of loving these young ones.
Helping Many More
Nevertheless, we know there are so many other children in Lesotho in need of care. We are working right now to build a Children’s Village in Lesotho so we can help many more children grow up safe from the eyes of traffickers. Partner with our efforts to help these children! Visit www.beautifuldream.tv/donate today!
1. Chalke, Steve. Stop The Traffik. United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking. 2009.