Leslie Ibeanusi

Leslie Ibeanusi (Transnational AIDS Prevention among Migrant Prostitutes in Europe Project – TAMPEP): Leslie earned her BS in biology at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia (2001-2005). In 2005, she was crowned as the inaugural Miss Nigeria in America, where she represented young Nigerian women of the diaspora. Since then, she has become passionately involved in global health and social justice issues affecting women and children in African countries. She had also co-founded a nonprofit called Making Noise Inc, which uses the arts and media to raise awareness of social justice issues in Africa countries. At the time of her fellowship, Leslie had just graduated from the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, where she received her Master's in public health with a concentration in global health promotion.



Angel’s Story

11 Jun

Last week, I had a chance to sit in on my first counselling session with a 21 year old girl that had been trafficked from Nigeria to Italy. Since her case is new and for her protection, I’ll call her Angel.

Just shy of her 22nd birthday, Angel sat in one of the rooms in the TAMPEP office, nervously shuffling her feet in and out of her sandals. In a mix of English and pidgeon English, the cultural mediator asked her, “ Do you mind if everyone is here? Make you go tell me, and I’ll use style and ask that person to come out. Just tell me eh?” Angel looked down, and with no hesitation said, “No, its alright. Everyone can stay.” Angel sat on the one side of the desk, next to an Italian social worker. On the other side, was the Nigerian cultural mediator and another Italian who typed out Angel’s testimony.

“Ok, Angel- From the beginning, tell us how you came to Turin? What happened?”, asked the cultural mediator. With a heavy sigh, Angel began her story. Six months ago, while still living in Nigeria, she was approached by a man, who knew of the situation of her family. He encouraged her to travel abroad so she could find work to help her family, since they were quite poor. He said she could work in a factory or in an African store. After refusing several times, she finally agreed. The man sent her to Lagos, where she joined several other girls who were getting “paperwork” processed to leave the country. Angel was given a fake passport and visa, and left Nigeria a few months later. She arrived in Turin a few months ago.

Upon her arrival, she was picked up by another women whom she did not know, and later taken to her madam’s apartment. Angel expressed to the counsellors, that she inquired about when she could start working. Her madam, also a Nigerian women, laughed and gave her clothes and shoes for her “new job”. When Angel looked at the clothing, she asked, confused, “ How can I work in a store with clothing’s like this? Is this how you dress in a store?” Her madam laughed again and asked her how she expected to work in a new country with new papers. “This is your new job now,” she told her. She was alone in a new country and confused and scared. She shakingly followed the orders of her madam, and was placed on a street where she was to sell her body. Her first job was “sex by mouth” for 20 euros. The room grew quiet, as if we all needed to process this information. In halting speech, she described how she finally escaped from her madam1s house and refused to continue the work she was doing. “I want to stop it. It is bad work. I want to go back to my parents in Nigeria.”

As I listened to her experience, I wept inside. This girl was young and afraid. In any other place, she should have been just finishing university, thinking about what job she wanted to pursue. She was around my late sister’s age, and I so desperately just wanted to reach out to hug her, pay any money I could to help her get back to her parents. I wondered if her parents knew the fate that had befallen their daughter. Did they think she had “made it” in Europe? Were they rejoicing while this girl was sitting shaking in our office? The sad thing is this is the story of many girls who end up in Turin. They are tricked to leave their country to pursue work overseas, and when they get there they are forced to sell their bodies.

After the session ended, Angel waited in the office to be taken to one of the shelters that TAMPEP opens up for girls in her situation. I asked her if she was hungry, and gave her a small meatpie that I had in my bag. I wanted to give her more. I wanted to give her her life back.

Posted By Leslie Ibeanusi

Posted Jun 11th, 2007

7 Comments

  • Estella

    June 11, 2007

     

    Got your email dear.
    Keep up the good work. I am VERY Proud of you! I know you will attain your dreams and this is just the beginning…God Speed!

    I sure will keep up with your blog, and enjoy Torino, I hear it is awesome there too. I’ll be in Milan shortly and will let you know…..

    We will talk more about our girls there……good job!

  • lusia

    June 11, 2007

     

    hey girl
    i just caught up with your blog postings now and it is very clear that u have a burden for this women, from the way you have expressed your experience so far.Angel’s story(and all the other) is a reality check for us all to step out off our corners and help in whatever way we can.and also to stop complaining about our circumstances cuz we have it made compared to what Angel has been through.thank God for TAMPEP and keep doing the good work girl.take care of yourself.God bless and i look forward to reading more about your experience in italy.(hope ur labtop problem is fixed now.lol.).

  • gm

    June 11, 2007

     

    Leslie, I’ve read this blog many times. tears fall each time. you write beautifully.

  • leslie

    June 12, 2007

     

    Thanks you all for reading my blogs! I honestly appreciate it- Stay tuned for more of my experiences in Italy- Ciao for now!

  • Hope

    June 12, 2007

     

    Wow…I am truly speechless. You hear of the stories all of the time, but it never really becomes real to you. It has just became real to me. I pray that God will continue to use you through you time in Italy. He’s going to show you what special gift you have in you to give them. I pray that you will just not only help them find their way back home, but be able to impart a part of life back into them. I love you girly, and may you prosper in all of your endeavors.

  • Jennifer

    June 13, 2007

     

    Wow, thats amazing. It’s so interesting how ur experiencing this..

  • Bob Kauflin

    June 13, 2007

     

    Leslie,

    Thanks for posting this, thanks for doing this, thanks for being such a clear example of our Savior’s compassion for the oppressed and abused. I pray God will use you to be a clear light for the Gospel in Turin.

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