Mudslide Orphans Fall Prey to Human Trafficking

Jeni Demaano
Jeni Demaano

They escaped with their lives, but now prostitution, pornography, slavery are the dangers that threaten some of the 70 orphans from the Philippines mudslide. Social worker Jeni Demaano and her coworkers from HOPE Worldwide were assigned to work with the kids for 3 months. Demaano says, "They need psychosocial intervention."

Demaano found out they also need protection. "Some outsiders came in here and drank alcohol and swam. But this place is exclusive for the orphans." It's easy to get into the orphanage- with no security from the beach. But this fence will change that.

Demaano gestures to the fence and says, "We need to protect the children so we're planning to put up fences here at the shore and there at the entrance." These orphans face more dangers than that.

UNICEF says this province is a notorious hotspot for human trafficking and illegal recruitment, often in prostitution, pornography, forced labor, marriage and illegal adoption. Demaano lists the concerns: "We fear that, especially the girls, they're in crisis now. What if they're abused sexually or physically by the adults."

The U.N. children's agency urged the Philippine government and aid agencies to be on alert, after some children were abducted. Demaano says, "Some of the children were promised to be sent to school in Manila but they ended up as house helpers, slaves, or the worst: prostitutes." One of those children fled and reported her slavery to authorities.

HOPE Worldwide is trying to place the orphans with relatives or find foster homes for the children.