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Blessing Okoedion: Who Is The Nigerian Woman Honoured For Anti-Trafficking In US?

In recognition of the “World Day Against Trafficking in Persons”, a Nigerian Blessing Okoediona was given the US State Department award by Mike Pompeo, United States Secretary of State and Ivanka Trump, senior adviser to the president of the United State of America.

Who is Blessing Okoediona?

In Nigeria, success equated travelling out as people who travelled returned with enough money to change the lives of their families.

It was this good life Okoediona, a graduate of computer science, sought when she landed a computing job in Spain. With an experience in fixing computers, the then 26-year-old got her papers and landed in the country only to find out that the job was non-existent. Rather, it was a means to lure her to Europe for human trafficking purposes.

Her captor, a woman sent her to Italy in 2013 so that she would pay her the 65,000 euros she claimed she owed her for everything she had done. The only way out her captor offered was prostitution.

Defying the odds, she found courage a few days later and reported to the police station to explain her ordeal. The police took action and took her to a home run by nuns against trafficking Casa Ruth.

Today, Okoediona is an activist whose has dedicated her life to fighting against trafficking. Her life during this period is documented in a book, The Courage of Freedom. A Woman Escaped from the Hell of Trafficking which was co-written with an Italian journalist Anna Pozzi.

Today, she was honoured alongside nine others by the US State Department at the 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report launch ceremony in Washington, D.C for her efforts.

According to Kari Johnstone, acting director of the State Department’s Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons, she was recognised for

“her extraordinary courage in using her lived experiences to … prevent human trafficking [and] her selfless efforts to assist survivors and lend a helping hand to those still subjected to the crime”.

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