Life. For some, is filled with fast cars, designer clothes, the latest IPhone, abundant cash supply… Yet for the women who frequent the streets of Makeni at night, it is a scene of leaking roofs, hungry children, human trafficking, physical abuse, robbery, rape and unsolved murder cases.
Three hours North East of Freetown, capital of Sierra Leone, lays the country’s second largest city, Makeni. During the day its bustling with bike riders ferrying folks to and fro their destination of choice, market women and men selling bread, gari, top-up plus timber trucks roaring towards the capital, school kids rushing home to do their chores and homework. The sun sets, they awake.
Shining from head to toe, dark and light skin tones together, laughing, some smoking, they conquer the night in the quest for survival. Not only are they at war with the widespread poverty, but their makeup also conceals blows suffered from corrupt cops who selfishly detain, rob, cause them bodily harm while forcibly satisfying themselves. Crooked smiles tell stories of children orphaned after a short time turns into a chilly episode of CSI.
Rainy seasons come with sleepless nights. They must sweep and mop the water threatening to drown the life out of their bodies. “Any amount can get you sex, for le10 000 ($1 USD the price of a can of coke). You can get your wants satisfied here. For children you get to pay less.” narrates Fatima, a 21-year-old mother of two. She locks her children inside her tiny room at night when she sets out to find bread for the morning knowing that she might not return to them, knowing that she might wake up in Guinea a victim of human trafficking.
Lady P, a pillar for most of these women, vows to fight until the last drop of blood to make sure sex workers are treated with dignity and equality. Taking to the streets at 14, losing her family to Ebola, her life has not been a walk in the park. Diamonds are formed in tough conditions, this has been the truth with Lady P who after all she has been through, she puts up a smile and offers a hand to those who need it.
Wi Sistas of Makeni thank you for the love and support you showed VAfrica. Your courage, in the face of so much abuse is an inspiration to us all this is for you our mothas sistas and daughters.Zac Darkes Founder VAfrica.
Organisations like Rofuta Development Association(RODA) have stepped in to assist these women by providing shelter and food in cases where they need close attention. They have partnered with Legal Aid Board Sierra Leone Legal Aid Board Sierra Leone. Who help educate the female street workers about their rights, provide bail and when need be and represent them in the court of law pro bono. National HIV/AIDS Secretariat helps them with counselling, testing and medication for HIV/AIDS given they are at a high risk of contracting the disease. Family Support Unit Mena Police Station. Despite lack of funding and resources as striving to work together with other bodies to create a safe environment for the public they have sworn to protect.