These stories are from the women we have worked with who would like their voice to be heard.......
In 2005, with the blessing of her family and in the hope of being able to financially support them, Faith left her husband and four children in her home town in Nigeria to seek work. She was offered what she thought was short term employment as a domestic assistant for a highly regarded family in the UK.
Faith’s travel to the UK was paid for in advance. Whilst she was heartbroken to have left her family in Nigeria, when she arrived at Heathrow airport she consoled herself with the thought that she would be seeing them again in six short months and that she would be able to send money back home to help feed, clothe and educate her children.
Faith was met at the airport by a woman who took her to the family home. She was given a room to share with a one-month old baby and she was told that she was to care for the baby day and night.
Her other duties included cooking, cleaning and gardening. Faith had her personal belongings and passport taken away from her and her head was shaven.
This was the beginning of Faith’s years of domestic servitude and her being stripped of her identity.
Faith was not permitted to eat with her employers, she would eat alone when her duties were done. Time off was non-existent. She worked every day with no rest days and she was never allowed to leave the house unaccompanied. She was required to wash the family’s clothes by hand but she was not allowed to wear gloves. This meant that the skin on her hands split and bled and became excruciatingly painful. When Faith refused to do the washing due to the pain she was beaten and starved until she complied.
All contact with her family in Nigeria was refused and Faith was paid nothing for her work, she only had one small photo of her son to remind her of home and her Bible for comfort.
One day, whilst the entire family went out, Faith took the opportunity to escape and found refuge in a church. Here she relayed her experiences to the minister. However it took several weeks before she felt that she had the courage to report her traffickers to the authorities. She was afraid she might be in trouble herself. Faith was relieved to be taken to a safe house.
On her arrival at the safe house, Faith was given one of the welcome baskets filled with toiletries that ‘Their Voice’ had provided.
Her comment was, ‘It was very nice to have a welcome card written in my language, I was able to put oil on my skin which was dry and I was very happy’.
Faith regularly attends church. The minister’s wife has visited Nigeria and located Faith’s youngest son. Faith has since written him a letter explaining that she did not abandon him, he had always been in her thoughts and explained she has been a slave and had no way of asking for help or contacting him. He has replied and is eager to find out about his Mother.
How can I help...
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