Building freedom with Osato Odion. ARISE 01 Vienna

Over 22000 Migrants have lost their lives on the high sea trying to migrate from their home country to Europe. Because these migrants cannot tell their stories anymore, does not mean all is well. Many were children, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunties, friends. They all had someone they left behind, they all had dreams to achieve. May of us are unaware of the challenges migrants face before reaching the coast of Libya and crossing the Mediterranean sea. I know that many cannot swim. Even if you could swim, it’s one of the craziest risk and danger to embark on.  Obviously this migration route is one of the most dangerous, but still many people are stuck on the road. Osato unwillingly found herself tied up in the danger to migrate through this route. She got jailed in Libya, spent 3 days on high sea. It is a ridiculous experience.

Migration route through the MEDITERRANEAN joadre

copyright/source: https://www.ecfr.eu/specials/mapping_migration

What prompts many young African migrants to risk their lives on this journey? Is it enticing images, stories and messages we get about Europe?  Are the circumstances in our home communities that bad to risk one’s life just to escape it? Can we reduce the reasons to ignorance or are there criminals out to profit from the exploitation of these migrants? Who profits from this at the end? Is it their family members who do not care about or who are ignorant to the risk and dangers that might lie ahead? On the other side, does Europe need the services of these migrants urgently to keep the offering of cheap products and services in the European market booming? No matter who profits, at the end it is migrants like Osato experience the trauma of this journey. They are the ones that fall short from the system and that is why we should let them speak.

Osato’s story is a vivid account of many stories we are yet to hear or might never hear.

Osato’s story is a vivid account of many stories we are yet to hear or might never hear. At a very young age, she found migration to Europe as an alternative to her current life in Edo State, Nigeria. So what is happening in our society that a young girl chooses this danger as her next best alternative? Did she know that there are european embassies in Nigeria, where she can apply for a visa? Even if she was aware of this, would she event make it to apply? Would she get a visa? Visas are reserved for the wealthy, the connected maybe through marriage or family connections or for those students who manage to get stipends through their extraordinary achievements. Does this automatically disqualify Osato from the opportunity to migrate in a dignified way?

building freedom, arise against human trafficking
Does Europe meet expectations?

Then she lands in Europe with all her expectations, but can these expectations be met? Does Europe confirm the images, the stories, the messages the media had showed her about itself? In her case, exploitation was pre-programmed to happen. She has to work as a prostitute. Did the sex clients, the thousands of European men roaming the streets at night looking for cheap sexual services to pay for, did they realise that she is serving them against her will?

Nevertheless, within the density of violence and oppression, where Osatos freedom was takes from her, she found the courage to think differently. She found the courage to say no the first time. Then again, then again, Slowly she could build on her courage and reclaim her freedom. Her did she get there?

Are you caught up in your own issues?

We are often caught up in situations in our lives that seem inevitable. That seems forever even when they are obviously contrary to the values we stand for. We get stuck in these situations, in these relationships, in these political atmosphere, in these family structures, that it is almost impossible to break free. Because we might have to risk it all to break free. I spent over 5 hours listening to Osato. Trying to understand how she, a young 22 years old woman, could summon the courage, in a foreign country to stand her ground, to say no. To flee. To reflect. To learn. To become independent and now to be able to find a space in her heart to love. To forgive. To feel the need to help others like her. Osato founded her organisation Free-me to empower young vulnerable people in her home community in nigeria through education and micro-credit.

On the 16th of June, we will welcome Osato Odion to our ARISE stage in Vienna.  

There are tons of initiatives happening on ground in Edo state, where many victims and survivors of human trafficking come from. Just to mention a few is True identity and Pathfinders Justice Initiative. These 2 organisations are out there working with women to give them the needed support to live their full potential. But there are still so many questions I want to ask. So many lessons I want to learn from extraordinary women like Osato.  That’s why we feel honored to host Osato on the 13th of June in Vienna, to learn, to listen, to celebrate her courage, to make her story valid. You are invited. Click to reserve a seat now. If you would like to learn more about how you can be instrumental to prevent human trafficking, visit our newly launched online course program Fair Friday. I look forward to welcoming you at our event on the 13th. Thank you for sharing this blog post and see you soon.

Cheers,

Joana

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