Did you know that 80% of the Nigerian women arriving in Italy are victims of human trafficking?
These women are recruited with the promise of a better life. Most of the victims come from Benin City, are aged between 17-28 years and have a low level of education and come from poor families. Once they arrive in Europe, they are placed in the prostitution market which becomes a trap for many of them. They live in a disadvantaged situation, they are often victims of violence and social exclusion, having no chance of coming out of prostitution or finding support that will help them to explore opportunities. The IRETI project was developed in response to the support required to enable and empower these women. The choice of the term IRETI is not random. In Yoruba, the most spoken language in Nigeria, IRETI means ‘hope’.
The IRETI project founded in Palermo by HRYO Human Rights Youth Organisation came to London and what fun that week was! On Monday 29th January Yvonne Witter IRETI Programme Manager UK, and Aisha Khan, Ubele Programme Officer arrived at Ravensbourne House on Bromley Rd, London, ready to greet the overseas arrivals. Soon they were joined by Italians, Spanish and Romanian partners. Tuesday morning kicked off with a hearty breakfast and warm welcome by the IRETI project facilitators HRYO, and The Ubele Initiative as UK hosts.
Morning sessions got the team doing bonding exercises with familiarisation activities in full flow. In the afternoon the group went sightseeing or using the heated pool and sauna facilities. Late into the nights scrabble and dominoes were the games of choice.
Wednesday started with a warm up session hosted by AUR followed by educational activities which explored Migration and Human Rights.
Yvonne Field, Founder and CEO The Ubele Initiative, facilitated a discussion on how women can be empowered to develop grass roots organisations, and they went outside to do the privilege walk. Well that really got people buzzing and I just know that it will be rolled out in various places in the near future.
After lunch Yvonne Witter led a session which required the participants to dream big. Giving them creative license, they were asked to use pictures, words and images to create their own dreams and aspirations for their organisations and personal goals for 2019!!
Each country had to prepare a national dish and Romania did the most lavish table dressing. We were very impressed. Jerked Chicken and Rice and Pease was on the menu for UK night and it was a real hit!
The week continued with sharing knowledge, skills and experience. All the while learning from each other and enabling and empowering for change with migrants and trafficked women at the heart of our conversations.
On Sunday 3rd February people went back as they came, at various times, to their respective countries, and Ravensbourne House fell silent once again until its new visitors arrive.