“Child trafficking is a business
So it has demand and supply”Maryana Munyendo (Founder, Missing Child Kenya)
By Baba Mboga
You peer up your phone and tap away at Instagram stories after a hard days work.
In between Xtiandela’s toboa stories you see it.
A missing child announcement for a child, probably less than 3 years old.
“Sasa mtu anapotezaje mtoto surely?” you sneer.
“Ni poa kuajiri mtu unajua kwao. Huyu utapata tu amebebwa na mboch juu wamekosana na mkubwa wake,” your friends chimes into the brief chat.
The conversation quickly changes to how rotten Nairobi is over another toboa story.
And just like that, you’re oblivious.
It’s 3 am.
She turns in her bed for what feels like the hundredth time.
Beside her, her husband snores lightly.
You wouldn’t think they had an argument hours earlier over going upcountry.
She’d had the last straw
She couldn’t go back this Christmas
Not without a child in her arms.
Where her husband came from, a barren mother was considered cursed
A “dry log of wood” that couldn’t reproduce,
she’d wronged God
Probably messed around with a Sangoma?
“Huyu haikosi ashai toa mtoi,
Si unajua wasichana wa Nairobi siku hizi.”
She knew she hadn’t done any of these.
But she prepared mentally for the whispers anyway.
What did she have… like a few hours on the road to prepare?
Maybe next year would be different.
Perhaps she’d go off kitchen duty next Christmas and excuse herself to go wash her child along with all her in-laws who happened to be mothers.
Her fertility doctor who also happened to be a nurse at a local government hospital years prior had given her alternatives…
Adoption… too complicated and time consuming
IVF… too expensive
And then there was the third option.
“Kuna mtu najua anaeza kusaidia hapa Mama Lucy for about 60k
Kama unataka kijana ni around 80 plus 10 ya makaratasi” nurse adds.
She’d talked to her husband about it… and he was ok.
After which she put up a 40k deposit that afternoon via M-pesa.
“Hope umepata deposit, I’ll add the rest by next week,” her text message read
And that’s why she couldn’t afford to go home.
With the recent lockdown forcing her to stay home
She was hoping to win him over in the morning just before they left.
The reality of child trafficking in Kenya has silently rocketed in the past few months over harsh economic times.
Children mostly below 5 years are increasingly becoming victims of child trafficking, a growing vice that has accompanied a growing trend throughout the years
In a recent story by BBC, with the assistance of Njeri Mwangi and her team of informants, a secret recording has emerged showing what appears to be the sale of a child from Adama, a young mother from the streets of Kayole by a nurse Identified as Mary Auma.
“Adama was broke…. she had been abandoned by the man who got her pregnant, and the pregnancy had cost her her job on a construction site when she could no longer carry heavy bags of cement. For three months, her landlord gave her grace, then he kicked her out and boarded the place up.
So Adama decided to sell her baby. Mary Auma was not offering her the 45,000 shillings she was attempting to charge us. She told Adama the deal was for just 10,000″ (BBC‘s “Buying a baby on Nairobi’s black market”)
A separate incident involved a social worker working at Mama Lucy Kibaki hospital known as Frank Leparan who was caught on camera selling a baby boy for Ksh 300,000.
He forged the necessary documents and made the plans to intercept a boy out of 3 children headed to a childrens home.
Why exactly do they do this?
How is it possible to put a price on a human being?
Talking to my friends about this on Discord made me realise that we live in a country that’s growing faster than ever…
And with “moral erosion” taking place and lack of sufficient role models/ sex education, children/adolescents engage in underage sex with no care in the world.
Poor living conditions are also to blame.
It should be noted that most if not all of the cases mentioned in the BBC documentary are from people that could have done better with a little bit more support.
An additional incident is of Rebecca, a homeless parent that woke up to find her then 1 year old son missing.
The Covid pandemic hasn’t helped either..
According to UNICEF Regional Advisor Rachel Harvey, a third of internet users are children (below 18 years) with internet usage increasing by half (50%) following the stay-home orders adopted by most countries to help suppress the spread of COVID-19.
Whereas the increase is positive for continuity of education and social life, Harvey is warning that it has put children at risk of online sexual exploitation.
The sad reality is that most of these children will never get to see their parents at all.
Given the hidden nature of child trafficking, statistics can’t be stated at the moment.
Where are the alleged child traffickers now?
According to BBC Mary Auma still runs her clinic at the conclusion of the documentary.
“We also informed a children’s rights NGO about Mary Auma’s illegal street clinic in Kayole, which in turn informed the police. But Auma appears to still be in business. She did not respond when we put our allegations to her.” (BBC)
Frank Leparan still appears to have kept his job at Mama Lucy Kibaki hospital.
“The BBC confronted Fred Leparan about this transaction but he refused to comment. The hospital also declined requests to comment, and Leparan appears to have kept his job.“