Covid-19 affects Bakhita Empowerment Centre for victims of human trafficking in Lagos, Nigeria

bakhita covid 250x25028 MAY, 2020. The Bakhita Empowerment Centre is located in Lagos, Nigeria, for survivors of human trafficking. Owned by the Sisters of St Louis, the centre provides accommodation, counselling, reintegration, and skills acquisition, among other things for the survivors. The centre has been greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and since mid-March, has not been allowed to take in new victims of human trafficking. The current residents have also had to adjust to their new reality, but in doing so, have discovered some wonderful, hidden talents within themselves.

The Bakhita Empowerment Centre coordinator, Patricia Ebegbulem SSL tells us, “Just before the lockdown we were advised to stop taking any trafficking victims from outside of Nigeria into our shelter. We were locked down with eight of our returned victims of trafficking, who we call our Treasures, and two of their infant children! It was like a dream. We were told we could not go out - some of our Treasures usually go out for their training in hair dressing, catering, and tailoring/sewing etc. and some go to school. ….How were we going to cope with the boredom?... We later grew to like and befriend our confinement. It gave us ample time to teach catechism to our Treasures and to do with them some of the things we did not have the time to do in normal circumstances. Indeed, our Treasures have formed a wonderful choir, which sings during the liturgy in our small chapel on Sundays.”

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