I am writing this post to congratulate Kehinde Oluremi Banwo on his award as one of the recipients of the 2016 Trafficking in Persons Hero. Banwo was awarded recently at the launch of the 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report by the U.S. Department of States. Banwo is the founder of an NGO in Russia who helps victims of sex trafficking in Russia return to their home country.
I connected with Banwo and was introduced to some of his efforts when he signed up to my mailing list and became an active member on the list. Sometimes, Banwo responded to my emails to the group. I received his first email on February 7, 2016 after sending out an email with the title, “I have Just been thinking….” His response showed someone working on the issue in Russia and willing to collaborate with other individuals and organizations to combat this crime in Russia.
His email read:
I am delighted to read your story and share your experience in assisting and empowering human traffic victims. I am following up your activities to be able to tap from your teaching on how to assist human traffic victims in getting them freedom and further empower them to start new life. I am in Russia where we have over 15 000 victims in modern day sex slavery trafficked from developing African countries, Asia and Cuba. I am focused on Nigerian girls brought mostly from Edo States, who on arrival discovered the truth of life and want to get freedom or liberated from their exploiters and probably return home to start a new life. The challenges are great and from your story, I learnt some lessons and understanding of technical approach to some of these problems. I would want to partner with your foundation on how to empower ex victims on returning back home. Also see if we can work a preventive model stooping the the young ones from been entrapped into human trafficking or sex slavery, such as your education program or seminars at the grass root level in Nigeria or in those countries where victims are been captured into slavery.
I hope to hear from you soonest,
I replied to the email and I have since, received other emails from Banwo. One of his emails revealed the story of a victim named Blessing, who was thrown down from a four storey building after being sold for sex. After being rescued, Blessing was deported to Nigeria on a wheel chair, as the Russian government was allegedly not supportive in helping survivors get adequate services. I was devastated about this woman’s story and always thought about her and her well being. I was happy when Banwo told me in a telephone conversation when he came to the U.S. to receive his award that Blessing is recuperating and now doing well after getting medical attention in Nigeria.
Banwo was elated for his award when he sent an email to his colleagues and friends stating, “I am happy to inform you that the US TIP for 2016 was released in Washington DC by the state department. I have been honored as one of the 8 Heros of the year 2016 in fighting against human traffic worldwide.” I was impressed when he continued further stating, “I received the award yesterday and dedicate it to all survivals rescued and assisted from Sex slavery in Russia.”
Indeed, Banwo is one of the many advocates who cared about the clients that they provide services to in the human trafficking movement.
Once again, congratulations Kehinde Oluremi Banwo. I look forward to working with you in the future.
To read the 2016 TIP Report, click here.
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