Slavery is not a thing of the past and here at World Hope International, we are doing everything we can to combat human trafficking. The follow stories, remind us that behind the numbers, there are real faces and real people. Real children who need real help, right now.

Cora's Story

Everyone deserves a childhood.Yet, twelve is the average age of entry into prostitution or sexual exploitation for the 2.4 million women and children forced into slavery every year. Cora's story is an example of how millions of children around the world have their childhoods stripped from them.

Cora lost her parents at a young age and went to live with her aunt in a rural village in Sierra Leone. At 11 years old, Cora was married off to an older village man for a few Leones. The man would come to Cora’s house to have sex with her at scheduled times each week.

By the age of 12, Cora was pregnant. When it came time for Cora to deliver the baby, her aunt would not take Cora to the hospital, and left her lying in pain for three days waiting to give birth. Finally, the baby was stillborn, and Cora was left paralyzed from the waist down with a huge hole in her birth canal created during the delivery.

For six months, Cora was left in isolation while her aunt waited for her to die. Finally, Cora was taken to Freetown to live with other relatives, who immediately dumped her at a local women’s clinic. The clinic declared Cora’s problem to be one of worst cases of fistula they had ever seen. Surgery was immediately done to correct Cora’s condition, but she still could not walk or use her arms. Soon after her recovery from the surgery, Cora was sent home to be with her family, who continued to neglect her needs. Cora’s arms would not stretch out – she remained paralyzed and hopeless, until the World Hope International staff at our Sierra Leone Anti-Trafficking shelter stepped in to help.

Cora entered our shelter program with little expectation to walk or use her arms again. WHI staff, however, set out to do all they could to reverse her condition. They worked tirelessly stretching and exercising Cora’s limbs. The heavens must have heard the joy and screaming of our housemothers when Cora took this step only one month after she arrived at our shelter! One who could not walk was healed - healed because our staff cared enough about a young girl who had been forced into labor, raped and abandoned by the world around her.

Cora's story represents the reality for millions of other enslaved children. Just as Jesus left the 99 sheep in the hills to seek out the one lost ewe (Luke 15:4), World Hope International’s Sierra Leone shelter staff sought out Cora to bring her the hope she thought she’d lost forever.

Mariatu and Augusta's Story

A physically handicapped Sierra Leonean man lived in a home for disabled and disadvantaged men, women and children with two young girls, Mariatu and Augusta, who came from exceptionally impoverished families and backgrounds. Eleven and nine years old, respectively, the girls were prime targets for traffickers looking to lure innocent children into sex or labor trafficking. 

Soon after they entered the home, the physically handicapped man began paying frequent visits to the girls' rooms late at night, a routine that lasted several months. Finally, the man convinced the girls to run away with him to a place he promised would bring better care and opportunities. Desperate for a better life, the girls obliged. 

Upon leaving the facility, the girls were immediately kidnapped, locked in a house, and left alone -- vulnerable and terrified. The following day, they were forcefully smuggled into a van and driven to the Sierra Leone - Liberia border. Responding to a call that the children were missing from the safe house, police caught the man at the border, arrested him, and referred the case to World Hope International. 

Mariatu and Augusta were admitted into WHI's Trafficking in Persons Recovery Center-- Sierra Leone's only high-trauma aftercare facility for survivors of trafficking and rape -- where they have received six months of extensive physical and psychological counseling and care, along with balanced nutrition, education and vocational training.  

Mariatu and Augusta are both now reintegrated with their families. Both families have been extensively trained and empowered by WHI staff to avoid desperation and prevent their children from being trafficked again. The girls have returned to school and the families have begun a WHI-sponsored "income-generating activity", designed to provide a small source of steady income to the family to help adequately care for and support the girls. The families will be monitored for a minimum of one year -- both by trained community watchdogs and WHI staff -- to ensure Mariatu and Augusta remain happy, healthy and safe.

Upon arresting the man, police and WHI discovered Mariatu and Augusta were not his only victims. He had been smuggling children across the border for years -- children who were never seen or heard from again. Today, WHI continues to work with police to prosecute the perpetrator and bring full justice to Mariatu and Augusta.


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