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CAMEROON: I Survived Human Trafficking and I'm Changing Lives

Awah Francisca Mbuli
Posted September 20, 2017 from Cameroon
Photo courtesy of Awah Francisca Mbuli

After suffering abuse and being held captive in a foreign country, Awah Francisca Mbulihas dedicated her life to fighting human trafficking and modern-day slavery.

“I am on a mission to help as many girls and women as I can from succumbing to the same fate.

When I left Cameroon to pursue my master’s degree in Norway, I never thought I would become a victim of sexual abuse and human trafficking.

Like many in Cameroon, I dreamed of traveling abroad. I arrived in Norway in 2010, in search of greener pastures. I felt like I had made it big, but I didn’t have a clear plan for survival.

After two months in the student hostel, I couldn’t find a job and I had spent all the money I had on me. I helped a couple take care of their 9-month-old baby girl day and night in exchange for food. Yes, just food.

I started looking for a church where I could meet African brothers and sisters who were also living in Norway. I thought I might find a connection to a job so that I could save up money for school and for my family back home. I found an African church, but no one could link me to any opportunities. Eventually, I could no longer pay my rent and I became homeless.

When the assistant pastor of the church, a 50-year-old man, offered me space in his apartment, I thought I was lucky. Everything went well for a week until he started approaching me for sex. I was so disappointed that this man of God, a man I trusted with my problems, would turn around and pressure me for sex just because he was housing me. It was winter and it was snowing everywhere; I had nowhere to go, no one else to provide a roof over my head. I was forced to play along with his demands.

I cried in my quiet moments. This wasn’t me, I thought. I was desperate and vulnerable, and I had no one else to turn to.

After almost a year of abuse, I stopped having sex with him. I was just tired of it and it had to stop. I even locked my door, but he would knock on it for hours. To punish me, he refused to give me food or cash for my bus cards.

One day on my way back from school I received a text from my abuser saying that I would have to leave his house. After spending two nights in the train station with no destination in mind, I contacted a girlfriend who I had befriended online. She and her dad drove a long distance from the north of Norway to pick me up. After a whole day of driving, we finally arrived in their little town.

I knew I was too far away from my school to continue my studies, but I thought a new dawn had come. I was happy to be in the comfort of a Norwegian family that was ready to accommodate me. I sang songs of praise.

I did not know that my friend would leave the house only a week later. She left me with her dad, a 58-year-old divorced man. He was so nice at first, but later he started making sexual advances, just like the man from the church.

I stayed with him for nearly a year until I started having mental problems that almost took my mind away. I was depressed and losing it. I needed to return home to regain my sanity.

Back in Cameroon, I was far from my abusers, but my ordeal was not over. I couldn’t cope with the unemployment and poverty all around me, and I began looking for a way out of the country again.

In May 2015, a middleman in Cameroon promised to connect me with an opportunity in Kuwait. He told me I was going to teach English on a good salary. I wasted no time; I compiled my documents and prepared to leave.

When I got to the airport in Kuwait, I was introduced to my employer and told I was going to work as a domestic servant. I thought I had already experienced so many shocks in my life, but this was the biggest shocker. I had no choice but to follow him, put on my domestic servant uniform, and begin work.

The working conditions were horrible, but I decided to manage as well as I could. Nearly three months into my stay, the worst happened.

One day, while my employer’s wife and two sons were away on vacation, my employer asked me to help massage him. He claimed he slipped and fell on the stairs. He said the doctor advised him that he should be massaged on his buttocks. I refused to do it, advising him to go to a spa to get a professional massage.

He told me that I should remember there is no “No” in the dictionary of his house. He would not accept my refusals and he forced me to massage him. After two days of massages, he tore my housemaid dress and raped me. He continued to rape me throughout the next week until I managed to run away from his house. I found refuge at the Central African Republic Embassy in Kuwait.

After reaching out to many humanitarian organizations fighting against human trafficking, an organization in New York City called Freedom For All paid my return airfare to Cameroon.

Now, when I look back at all that I went through, it makes me cry. But I am also looking forward to my future. I intend to use my story to change the lives of as many girls and women as possible and this gives me hope.

The five years of sexual abuse I endured from three different men may sound like an unrealistic movie, but this is what happened. After going through all of this, especially this last ordeal in Kuwait, I felt a spark of zeal in me to fight against all these wrongs.

I now run an organization called Survivors' Network in Kumba, Cameroon. Our organization is made up of female survivors of human trafficking who have come together to fight against trafficking and modern-day slavery. We use all available media to warn people about human trafficking and to discourage parents from sending their children abroad without a properly defined mission. I also have gone door to door and made radio and TV appearances at home and abroad to talk about my personal ordeal.

Surviving simultaneous human trafficking and sexual abuse is difficult. But now that I have come out of it and am working against it, I am on a mission to help as many girls and women as I can from succumbing to the same fate. The events in my life have led me to where I am now. Today, I have the opportunity to free girls and women from the shackles of slavery and trafficking—first in Cameroon and then, hopefully, all around the world.


STORY AWARDS

This story was published as part of the World Pulse Story Awards program. We believe everyone has a story to share, and that the world will be a better place when women are heard. Share your story with us, and you could be our next Featured Storyteller! Learn more.

How to Get Involved

Awah Francisca Mbuli invites you to follow the work of Survivors' Network on their website www.survivorsnetwork.co and on Twitter and Facebook

 

Comments 58

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Bea Evans
Sep 20, 2017
Sep 20, 2017

Awah, thank you for bravely sharing your story.  Your strength, insight, and commitment will empower the women and girls served by Survivor's Network.

Bea Evans

www.RippleEffectJourneys.com

Awah Francisca Mbuli
Sep 21, 2017
Sep 21, 2017

Hello Bea,

Thanks a lot for the encouraging words. With great minds like all the women on WP, Survivors' Network will achieve all its' objectives of rescue, empower and awareness.

Best,

Francisca Awah

Michelle Magdalina
Sep 20, 2017
Sep 20, 2017

Thats really nice of you Awah and continue with that coz our World needs changemakers

Awah Francisca Mbuli
Sep 21, 2017
Sep 21, 2017

Hello Miche,

Thanks a lot, we will not relent our effort to make the World a better place.

Bless,

Francisca Awah

Sophie Ngassa
Sep 21, 2017
Sep 21, 2017

My dear sister Awah, Sorry for what happened. Please keep on fighting against trafficking and slavery. You are very courageous. Stay blessed.

Awah Francisca Mbuli
Sep 21, 2017
Sep 21, 2017

Hello Sophie,

Thanks a lot for the words to push me forward.

We are together in this fight. "Forward ever, Backward Never"

Bless,

Francisca Awah

Anita Kiddu Muhanguzi
Sep 21, 2017
Sep 21, 2017

My dearest sister,

My heart is crying for you both tears of sadness and you. You are more than a survivor . Am so sorry that you has to go through what you went through. But am happy that you have come to terms with it and that you are now using your story to help other women who are going through what you went through. Not many women can tell their stories to help others in this world. So I strongly appauld you. I pray that you will get over it. Talking about what happened is good therapy for your soul. Stay blessed my dear sister and always remember that we are always hear for you. Keep us posted on the things that happen in your community.

Stay blessed

Awah Francisca Mbuli
Sep 23, 2017
Sep 23, 2017

Hello Anita,

Thanks for the encouragements. It took a lot of courage for me to open up what I have been hiding. But as I have started I will not stop.

Stay Bless,

Frrancisca Awah

jlanghus
Sep 22, 2017
Sep 22, 2017

Hi Francisca. Wow... you've made it to the big time:-) Nice badge there, hon! Good job!

Awah Francisca Mbuli
Sep 23, 2017
Sep 23, 2017

Dearest Jill,

A heartily thanks to you. You inspire me a lot .

Most Respectfully,

Francisca Awah

jlanghus
Sep 23, 2017
Sep 23, 2017

You're welcome, but you are the one doing all the work:-) Let me know if you need more help, encouragement, etc:) I'd love to hear an update on how the extra attention/coverage has helped your organization/cause. Best wishes...:-)

ARREY - ECHI
Sep 22, 2017
Sep 22, 2017

Awah, Thank you for sharing your story despite your ordeal. You are a courageous woman who is using her setbacks and disappointments to inspire others. May your mission be successful to dissuade those who want to travel without clear cut plans and ideas of what exactly they want to pursue. One love Arreywww.joy2endure.com

Awah Francisca Mbuli
Sep 23, 2017
Sep 23, 2017

Hello Maarrey,

Thanks for your beautiful words,

Workd Pulse really spark up the courage in me. We all are strong ladies.

Best,

Francisca Awah

Aramide Oikelome
Sep 22, 2017
Sep 22, 2017

Dear Away,

Thank you for being so brave and true!  Please keep up the good work of saving women and girls from sexual exploitation and abuse. 

Love & Light,

Aramide

Awah Francisca Mbuli
Sep 23, 2017
Sep 23, 2017

Dearest Aramide,

We give God the glory for life. Thanks for the nice words.

Love,

Francisca Awah

iyamail
Sep 23, 2017
Sep 23, 2017

My dear sister, I understand when you speak about your ordeals. Most girls who travel to Europe without a plan end up being forced to do nasty things. Thank you for speaking out. I pray your message has an impact on tens of thousands!

Iya

Awah Francisca Mbuli
Sep 23, 2017
Sep 23, 2017

Hello Iya,

Is not easy there, but I gather the courage to speak out my sad tale through a victory now so that my other sisters family know thus.

Best,

Francisca.

Elfas Zadzagomo
Sep 23, 2017
Sep 23, 2017

Bravo sister , we all go through much in life but its almost end as a lesson for us and we become a solution for someone out there

Awah Francisca Mbuli
Sep 30, 2017
Sep 30, 2017

Elfasz9,

Dear thanks a lot for these warm words. We must speak up.

Best wishes,

Francisca Awah

Aise Jisimah
Sep 24, 2017
Sep 24, 2017

You are such a brave and strong woman, a lot of women fall victims. Thank u for standing up against human trafficking and modern day slavery.

Awah Francisca Mbuli
Oct 05, 2017
Oct 05, 2017

Dearest Aise,

Thanks for being there. I have made a promise to myself that no more of such ordeal, so am reaching out to many other women in the grassroots to join me in this fight. We will not relent.

All my best,

Francisca Awah

Olutosin
Sep 24, 2017
Sep 24, 2017

My sister dearest, 

You are a brave woman. 

Thanks for sharing your story with us. More importantly,  thanks for your decision to empower other women too. You are a beautiful soul. 

Awah Francisca Mbuli
Oct 05, 2017
Oct 05, 2017

Dearest Olutosin,

 Thanks for reaching to me with your nice words of encouragements.

Being your follower, I wish to applaud you for your good job with the women in your community. I will love to learn more from you.

Allmy best,

Francisca Awah

Ngwa Damaris
Sep 25, 2017
Sep 25, 2017

Courage! Keep doing the good work. Always love yourself and never ever give up in life despite all circumstances of life 

Awah Francisca Mbuli
Oct 05, 2017
Oct 05, 2017

Dearest Dama,

Thanks a lot for the encouragement. Wish you join me.

All my best,

Francisca Awah

mae me
Sep 25, 2017
Sep 25, 2017

Dear Awah, as I am reading your story... I believe that this makes you more strong.  The experienced you had will be useful in your next journey of life.  And at the same time, you will be a blessing to others who had the same experienced.

Awah Francisca Mbuli
Oct 05, 2017
Oct 05, 2017

Dearest Maeann ,

Thanks for the encouragement. 

All my best,

Francisca Awah

Leonida Odongo
Sep 26, 2017
Sep 26, 2017

Dear Awah, you are so brave , so fearless.Thank you for picking up the broken pieces of your life .Keep inspiring others and keep transforming others.

Salute!

Clodine Mbuli Shei
Sep 26, 2017
Sep 26, 2017

My dear sister,

Sorry for what happened.Although your story broke my heart, i am happy you are a fighter and conqueror. Thank you for the fight to free others. You are a true Heroine. Move on

Awah Francisca Mbuli
Oct 05, 2017
Oct 05, 2017

Dear Clodine,

God knows best. Thanks for the sweet words. Do you mind we come over to your community for awareness campaigns?

Best, 

Francisca Awah

Clodine Mbuli Shei
Oct 06, 2017
Oct 06, 2017

Dear Franca, Would be delighted if you come to my community. I am resident in Bamenda town. Please my email address i mbuliclodine@yahoo.com. Kindly give me details of the campaign so we know how to plan for it

Gladys Muthara
Sep 26, 2017
Sep 26, 2017

Awah, you have amazing strength! I am so glad that you have decided to use your harsh experiences to rescue and prevent other girls in Cameroon from falling into the Human Trafficking danger. You are one in a million and together we are strong!

Awah Francisca Mbuli
Oct 05, 2017
Oct 05, 2017

Dearest Gladys,

Thanks for the encouragements,

not only Cameroon but Africa at large. I have rescued girls to Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal.

The fight just begun,

All my best,

Francisca Awah

Sister Zeph
Sep 26, 2017
Sep 26, 2017

My dearest Sister 

I salute your courage, while reading your story I was feeling like i was there with you, when you were crying for a help, when you were thinking of ways to run from there, when you were looking for a shelter and when you were hungry, I can feel your pain, all of us here on World Pulse went through a pain and World Pulse is a healing power for us,our pain has given us a courage to keep our other sisters safe from such horrible life experiences, you are a real heroin, I love you sister you are amazing, keep growing and remember that you are sisters around the world who love you and who admire you.

Awah Francisca Mbuli
Oct 05, 2017
Oct 05, 2017

Sister Zeph,

It was horrible, but what amaze me is I always comes out of it safe. No health issues no mental instability.

You are an inspiration.

Love to be intouch with you all the time.

Francisca Awah,

Amal Patricia Stifoni
Sep 26, 2017
Sep 26, 2017

I am glad you are doing such a great job. Well done! really, And the best still to come for sure. My best wishes and all support for you :) Please, feel free to contact me. I wish I could contribute with any of my skills, We can make a better world united. 

https://www.facebook.com/abc3311

Awah Francisca Mbuli
Oct 05, 2017
Oct 05, 2017

Dearest Andrea,

First I wish to say a heartily thanks for the kind words.

Am 100 person ready to work together and  to reach out to you anytime need arises. My Facebook name is Awah Francisca Wransi. Lets get connected.

All my best,

Francisca Awah

Louisashei
Sep 27, 2017
Sep 27, 2017

Hello Awah

Louisashei
Sep 27, 2017
Sep 27, 2017

Hello Awah

Hello Awah

Thank u so much for that ,i was so touched .thank God u braved through

Awah Francisca Mbuli
Oct 05, 2017
Oct 05, 2017

Dearest Louisa ,

Our God is able. Thanks for the sweet words.

Love,

Francisca Awah

Ndifor Jennifer
Sep 28, 2017
Sep 28, 2017

Hello Awah

Thanks so much for the story really inspiring.

Awah Francisca Mbuli
Oct 05, 2017
Oct 05, 2017

Dearest Jennifer,

You are so welcomed and welcome to join the movements.

Best,

Francisca Awah

Yo
Oct 01, 2017
Oct 01, 2017

What a story! It's amazing that you have come out of this so strong, as I'm not sure that many women would have had the courage to get through it. Thank you for using your experience to help other women in the world. Total respect to you.

Awah Francisca Mbuli
Oct 05, 2017
Oct 05, 2017

Dearest Yo,

Am super excited for all the kind words you shower on me. My fight has just begun.

All my best,

Francisca Awah 

Diviner Suh
Oct 02, 2017
Oct 02, 2017

Wow this is soul touching. i am glad that you glided through this trauma without major eventualities. God is still on the throne. lot of love

Awah Francisca Mbuli
Oct 05, 2017
Oct 05, 2017

Hi Diviner,

Our God is alive and good all the time. 

Thanks dear wish to know where u are base, so that we can organize a sensitization event.

best,

Francisca Awah 

Eyabi Majorie
Oct 04, 2017
Oct 04, 2017

Hey dear I am Majorie from Cameroon.Your story has touched the deepest parts of my heart.How I wish so many people out there could use their voices n telling their stories.This will go a long way in ceating an awareness cos there are so many young girls and women going through this same ordeal.Keep your head up high cos i know God has a plan for you and you will definitely achieve your goals and dreams.Stay Blessed

Awah Francisca Mbuli
Oct 05, 2017
Oct 05, 2017

Dearest Majorie, 

Thanks for all the sweet and encouraging words.

please where are you base? So that me and my team can touch base to sensitize the women, children and entire community on human trafficking, modern slavery, child ka Our and many social ills affecting the vulnerable.

Best,

Francisca Awah

Hilari Tripura
Oct 06, 2017
Oct 06, 2017

Hi, Awah

I have read your story. My tear is coming out while I am reading it. You are very brave.

Lots of love for you.

Hadebe16
Oct 10, 2017
Oct 10, 2017

You brave and beautiful women  Thank you so much for being brave and forward looking encouraging and supporting other victims After your ordeals Well done Please keep it up!!

Jennifer Flaman
Oct 13, 2017
Oct 13, 2017

Unbelievable.  Thank you for your courage and the inspiration!!!

Ese Ajuyah
Oct 18, 2017
Oct 18, 2017

Dear Awah,

Your story is very touching and inspiring at the same time. It takes begin a special breed of a person to willingly share a story of weakness turned to strength like yours. Keep up the good work. Best wishes.

Cheers

Eseoghene

Nnenna Hannah okoh-Metu
Oct 22, 2017
Oct 22, 2017

i am sadden by the events in your life, i am glad you are putting up a good fight,God bless you

mainamajhi
Nov 02, 2017
Nov 02, 2017

First of all I would like to thank you for being so brave and sharing your story that can change so many life. It's very unfortunate that the web of human trafficking has become so stronger  The. Country I belong to have also been struggling to cut the web to protect it's citizen. Thank you for  sharing your story 

anne_3
Mar 08
Mar 08

Awah, your story is truly horrific to a privileged English woman like me who has only ever encountered sexual harassment on a minor scale. To have endured what you have and to have come out the other side fighting and stronger is very inspiring. My greatest hope is that ALL women - whatever age - will raise their voices and be heard and fight for a world where they can be free to travel and live their lives without any fear or intimidation. Best wishes for your future and wishes you much success with your Survivors Network - hopefully you are networking all over the world!

AGNES TUMASANG
Jun 19
Jun 19

Thanks

Tecenta Achiri
Jun 20
Jun 20

Dear Awah
It takes grace to share such a story.. Considering what you have gone through I must confess you are a great woman and your story must inspire many ladies our there
Courage my dear!!!!

Kat Haber
Jul 17
Jul 17

Hey Awah!

Shemanity needs you to step up for many more with a broader reach.

Do you know about Rotary International Peace Fellow Scholarships?
If you are interested and qualified, ping me and WE Rotary,
our virtual Rotary Club might be able to shepherd your application.
https://www.rotary.org/en/our-programs/peace-fellowships

Meanwhile may peace prevail in your places. I am moved by your bravery, creativity, and cleverness.