Saida's Story: Free Again
Saida, who had a good life and a fiancé in South Africa, was excited about the offer from a family friend to cater a traditional meal for a South African-style wedding in the United States. Believing she would return home in two weeks, Saida set off for America. After the event was over, instead of receiving payment and a return ticket home, she was forced into domestic slavery. Saida worked without compensation for 19 hours every day of the week—cooking, cleaning, babysitting, shoveling snow and toiling at the homes of her traffickers and their friends. They told her if she tried to call for help, the police would intercept the call, arrest her and throw her into jail indefinitely. Isolated, sleep-deprived, impoverished and terrified, Saida felt hopeless and was in tears every day.
The State Department received a tip and reached out to Safe Horizon, which operates the largest program on the eastern seaboard for human trafficking victims. With our help, Saida moved to a Safe Horizon shelter, where she was not only offered food, clothing and safe place to sleep, but she was also able to speak with a case manger and immigration attorney who specialized in working with trafficking survivors. Most importantly, she was able to contact her family and friends at home who hadn’t heard from her in months.
With Safe Horizon’s help, Saida returned home, where she continues to cooperate with the FBI to prosecute her traffickers and fight for justice. Her Safe Horizon case manager connected Saida with educational and job training in South Africa before her departure. A few months later, she was thrilled to receive a wedding invitation from Saida. After a two-year separation, Saida and her fiancé’s wedding was both a celebration and a homecoming.