Adoboe-Herrera’s journey from Togo to the United States at the age of 7 was meant to be a path to education and support for his family.
However, he faced a harrowing ordeal from 2006 to 2013 after being smuggled into the U.S. illegally by a family friend.
This period was marked by physical and emotional abuse, turning his life into a “living hell.”
It was only through the intervention of a compassionate teacher, who recognized his distress and built a rapport with him, that Adoboe-Herrera was able to escape his situation.
He attributes his survival to “the grace of God alone.”
A Widespread Issue
Adoboe-Herrera’s experience is not isolated.
According to the Human Trafficking Institute, 72% of those trafficked in the U.S. are immigrants.
Migration, driven by a desire for a better life, often makes individuals vulnerable to exploitation, as seen in Adoboe-Herrera’s case.
The Role of Poverty and Desperation
Sister Maria Orlandini, OSF, who has worked in Honduras and El Salvador, sheds light on the root causes of trafficking.
In these countries, poverty and violence force many to seek a better life elsewhere.
In Honduras, for example, one in five people live on less than $2 a day, creating a desperate need to find opportunities abroad.
Orlandini notes that the only sturdy houses in these areas are often built by those who receive financial support from relatives working in the United States.
The hope of earning enough money to support their families back home drives many to embark on the perilous journey, making them vulnerable to exploitation.
Sister Ann Scholz, SSND, Ph.D., emphasizes the importance of understanding how desperate circumstances make individuals susceptible to traffickers.
As she moderates the panel discussion, she highlights the need for greater awareness and action to prevent human trafficking and support survivors like Adoboe-Herrera