Obi and his brother Chinedu, were aged 9 and 10 years old were brought into the country by relatives after the death of their father in Nigeria, with promises that they would go to school in London. They looked forward to a new life, to learning British ways, to going to a new school and making new friends.
However, once they arrived in the UK, they found the reality was very different. They were sent to live with their Aunt in South London, where they were both forced to work in her Nigerian restaurant. Everyday, they were woken up at 5am. Everyday, they went to bed at midnight. Their day-to-day tasks included going to the market every other day to buy the food cooked in the restaurant, and carrying the food home on foot – their Aunt refused to pay for any sort of transport. Obi and his brother would walk long distances to and from the marketplace. If they took too long to return, they would be severely punished for being late – they would be beaten, starved, belittled. On return from the market, they would cook the food, serve the many customers, wash the dishes and clean the restaurant. Even though they were allowed to go to school, this was not at all regular, as they were still expected to carry out all their daily chores regardless. If they tried to run away, they were caught and beaten. They were not allowed friends, and they were isolated and alone – with only each other for support.
This forced labour went on for several years until eventually, with the help of some vigilant strangers, they were both able to break free from their abusers. Through social services they were brought to Afruca, which helps African children who are victims of abuse and exploitation. Now in their twenties, they are still trying to cope with the effects of their long-term exploitation and abuse.
Case study courtesy of Afruca : www.afruca.org