This bus station in Burkina Faso is a transit point for children who’ve been sold into exploitation, many to work on farms in neighbouring Côte d’Ivoire. An estimated 200 000 children across Africa are trafficked each year. Made to work in mines, farms, or domestic work and other informal work.
Bonavanture Kere, Secretary-General, Road Transport Union of Burkina Faso
If you really want to fight child trafficking, you have to start here at the bus station.
The road transport union is working with the International Labour Organisation to stop child trafficking. The strategy is to target transit points like this bus station and raise awareness among bus drivers. Last year over a thousand trafficked children were rescued across the country.
I used to transport trafficked children because bus driving alone didn’t pay enough. My conscience got to me - I am Muslim, and with the awareness raising campaign, I realised that I needed to abandon this.
When Maturin was 13, a trafficker convinced his family that he would earn a good income if they would send him to pick cotton in the Côte d’Ivoire.
I didn’t realise what it would be like. When I got there, there were five children, I became the sixth, and we had to do all the work. I suffered a lot.
He escaped and once back in Burkina Faso he was put under the care of an association that provides apprenticeships to trafficked children.
Mariama Barry Ouedraogo, National Project Coordinator LUTRENA/IPEC
Poverty remains the main cause of child trafficking. In order to effectively combat this problem, awareness raising isn’t enough. Viable alternatives also need to be made available to parents and children.
Instead of boarding a bus, Maturin is learning to be a bike mechanic. He hopes to open a motorbike repair shop when he returns home to his village.
With continued efforts like these the bus ride may one day lead home for other children as well.