By Rebecca Ejifoma
Plans have been set in motion to reunite Togwe (surname withheld), a Beninoise, who was trafficked into Nigeria at age 17 in search of greener pastures.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and Terre Des Hommes, an international organisation protecting migrant children and every child in Nigeria and ECOWAS nations, who facilitated her rescue, will ensure she is reunited with her family in Benin Republic come December next year.
Togwe, who was renamed Titilayo on her arrival in Nigeria, was used as a househelp in Ojuore area of Sango-Ota Ogun State in 2013.
The 22-year-old said: “I was trafficked into Nigeria alone at 17. I was a house help in Ojuore. I left there because something happened. I don’t wish to talk about it.
“I am from Bono in Cotonou town of Benin. Today, I speak both pidgin and English language now because I met the Matron of Echoes of Mercy, Mrs. Funmi Adedokun, whom I call mother.
“She registered me in secondary school and I went for two years. My mother suggested I stopped school to go learn hair making because my age was not appropriate for my class then I could return after learning. I agreed.”
Today, the Beninese born said she makes all kinds of hair styles perfectly, adding that “now that I have a good handwork, I will like to go back home to my family. I want to see my parents and siblings. But that will be next December in 2019. I will return to Nigeria to continue my hair making business.”
Togwe is one among the many trafficked and migrant children rescued by the agencies involved. While some remembered their last names and home addresses, some were not lucky.
On this development, the Child Protection Network Coordinator for Lagos, Mrs. Ngozi Okoro, said they have seen such cases whereby the rescued persons have forgotten their identities.
She said: “There was once a migrant child from Benin Republic, who was rescued. But the mistake the rescuers made was not getting his real name.
“He came in as a little boy. But now he doesn’t know where he is from. And he is already in the university in Nigeria. We have taken him to Benin. He stayed for a month then returned after his efforts to reunite with his family was futile.”
Meanwhile, the Non-indigenous High Chief of Ojokoro Land, ECOWAS, Mr. Dunu Afebli, and his counterpart, Mr. Samuel Boni – both from Ghana – suggested that in order to help reunite migrant children with their family, rescuers should take the first language of the child at the moment of rescue.
Afebli said the language the migrant child speaks should be noted down or taped so that it will be useful in tracing the family.