To combat human trafficking and protect vulnerable individuals, Sierra Leone’s First Lady, Dr. Fatima Maada Bio, has joined hands with the Ministry of Social Welfare and the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Task Force. Together, they officially unveiled the “Victims of Human Trafficking Trust Fund” at the Freetown City Council Hall.

During the inauguration and her keynote address, Her Excellency Dr. Fatima Maada Bio shed light on the seriousness of human trafficking, a central focus of the “Hands Off Our Girls” campaign. She reiterated her steadfast commitment to eliminating this deplorable practice in cooperation with relevant authorities. Dr. Bio shared the distressing story of a 17-year-old girl promised a computer science program in Dubai, only to endure exploitation and abuse in Freetown. This tragic account highlighted the prevalence of such cases, prompting a plea for increased awareness and psychosocial support for victims.

In a passionate call to action, Her Excellency urged mothers to protect their children and stressed the importance of unity in addressing this issue, transcending political divides. She announced plans to incorporate anti-trafficking messages into the upcoming free Sanitary Pads campaign, encouraging schoolchildren to remain vigilant and support each other. Dr. Bio concluded by urging the government, partners, and stakeholders to generously support the Trust Fund, ensuring targeted assistance for survivors.

In acknowledgment of her relentless commitment to shielding children from exploitation and abuse, Dr. Fatima Maada Bio was honored as the National Anti-Human Trafficking Champion. “I am deeply proud yet humbled to receive the title of National Anti-Human Trafficking Champion,” she expressed.

Mrs. Narsu Ndemema, chairperson of the event, underscored the importance of the Trust Fund as a testament to the government’s steadfast commitment to combating human trafficking and protecting its citizens. The Honorable Melrose Karminty, Minister of Social Welfare, welcomed attendees and emphasized the initiative’s crucial role in combating trafficking and supporting survivors. She reaffirmed the government’s determination to shield vulnerable groups and ensure freedom from trafficking for all Sierra Leoneans.

Christopher Christodoulies, Country Representative of the International Organization for Migration, stressed the significance of restoring dignity to survivors and urged increased financial support for the Trust Fund to effectively fulfill its mandate.

The launch of the Victims of Human Trafficking Trust Fund represents a significant milestone in Sierra Leone’s ongoing fight against human trafficking. With the collective determination of government officials, civil society organizations, and international partners, there is renewed optimism for a future where every individual is free from the scourge of exploitation and abuse. Dr. Fatima Maada Bio’s leadership and advocacy serve as a beacon of hope, inspiring a unified front in the pursuit of human dignity and justice.