Beyond the threat of broken eggs

The story of two girls rescued through the anti-human trafficking work of OM Ghana.

Felicity* and Lina* are best friends, both in their early twenties. They are from Rivers State, Nigeria, and share their thoughts, laughs, memories and struggles. It was their “friend” Joy who introduced them to the possibility of going to work in Ghana.

At first they didn’t believe this girl with a suspicious name. People said she was a prostitute. She had run away from her rich father, gone to Ghana—and everyone knew how she made her money. But when Joy came around the next time, telling the girls she owned a shop and needed some helping hands, they looked at the photograph of her shop and nodded.

Felicity had started styling people’s hair and dreamed of one day owning her own beauty parlour. Lina loved computers and wanted to become a modern woman, able to fix, maintain and operate them well. Maybe this Joy girl could help them get the money they needed quickly, they thought.

After they arrived in Kumasi, Ghana, they rested in a guesthouse for two days, along with their so-called friend. They started asking about the shop they had seen in the picture, but Joy suddenly vanished. Left alone with no money, Felicity and Lina sat in their room, waiting for what would happen next.

The disappointing silence ended on the third day when the doors opened and a strange lady appeared. She introduced herself as Madam Ugozi and announced that they belonged to her and were going to work for her. She’d give them a place to sleep and food to eat, but in return they would have to pay her the money they made. They were supposed to pay her 3,500 Ghanaian Cedi (almost 2,000 US Dollars) each.

Of course they protested, but she made it very clear that running away was not possible. Either she’d “break the egg”—an occult practice that is said to cause the loss of common sense, or even death—or she’d make sure they died by any means.

After each night, Madam Ugozi would search their bags and belongings to make sure they didn’t keep any money for themselves.

It didn’t matter what customer came—they had to satisfy them all. They received 5.00 Ghanaian Cedi—about two to three US Dollars—for every appointment, and then they had to do it all over again with someone else.

They could earn eight to 10 times more money if they had sex without protection, which put them at risk of contracting HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases. What would be their only reward after a night of terror? Sometimes up to 20 used condoms. No money, just the slow death of their hearts and hopes.

After two months of brutality and torment, the police took action in the hotel where they operated, after being contacted by the OM team. The police took away 46 girls and arrested four madams, taking their mobile phones. They conducted interrogations, and eventually a court process took place.

Unfortunately, one of the girls, who used to collect money from other “employees”, hid her phone well and managed to call Madam Ugozi, who had not yet been arrested. After the girls were released, Madam Ugozi threatened them with death if they gave her name to the police. She then she has disappeared, and nobody knows where she is now.

Felicity is waiting to get back to Nigeria soon, hug her four-year-old daughter and maybe one day tell her how incredibly dangerous it is to work abroad if you’re not careful.

Lina is excited to get home and find money for her school fees. “We are grateful for what the Lord has done through your organisation,” she says. “When [OM Ghana Field Leader] Chris was pleading with us and promising to take care of us, we were not sure what awaited us. We have now found hope and peace within as we await to be sent home to our families.”

For more about the anti-trafficking work of OM Ghana, click here.

* Name changed

 

By OM International