I was horrified by M's story, arriving back in France I immediately broke down in tears in front of my neighbour who had come to pick me up from the airport. I'd already talked again to my old schoolfriend in Nigeria; we both think that something needs to be done.
Due to the situation in West Africa as it stands, its very difficult to stop this trafficking; only last year I had my 12 year old goddaughter with me who has a different surname & different nationality, not once did any 'official' ask what we were doing together & if I had parental permission. We crossed SIX borders together, no one thought to question us!!! Added to which I know that I could have easily paid someone off if I had been taking her along illegally.
The 'corridor' between Lagos & Abidjan strands 5 countries. Two are English speaking, three French speaking, however all along that corridor are signs asking travellers to stop the spread of AIDS/HIV. Fair enough, health is important too.
But what about all these kids that are trafficked???
My Nigerian friend has told me a story of the manager of one of her father's factories. She had no idea that it was so widespread. The daughter of this manager was kidnapped, he lost her for several months. After paying a lot of Naira he eventually (with the help of the original kidnappers) tracked her down to Libya. She has been reunited with her family.
So many West African children are kidnapped, either for 'slavery' to work in rich homes across W.Africa or in Libya, or for the sex trade. Sad as it is these children are out there somewhere being used for profit by unscrupulous gangs. I also heard from my friend that she often has Togolese or Beninois children brought to the door with a distinctly English sounding surname, because the 'man in charge' is English speaking & given his name to the children that are brought to him to make that profit.
I have a sneaking suspicion that's what's happened to M who thankfully is now safe behind closed doors in Cote d'Ivoire. I think psychologically she's shut down the part of her memory that went through some sort of ordeal.
We are now looking to make something happen along the corridor, whether it be education or what I would like to see; more pressure on governments & compliance to international child law!