YCI expands work in reintegration of survivors of human trafficking

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This summer, the Youth Career Initiative (YCI) will be holding two human trafficking awareness workshops for hotel staff working directly with survivors in Mexico and Vietnam. This is the third consecutive year in which YCI proactively assists the reintegration of former victims of trafficking.

The global figure of human trafficking is currently estimated to be approximately 27 million victims, of which at least 1.2 million are thought to be children. YCI has a chance to make a real difference in the lives of some of the most at risk young people in the world.

Why YCI

YCI runs a 24-week education programme providing disadvantaged young people with life and work skills in partnership with leading global hotel chains. Since 2011 participants have included victims of human trafficking.

Since 2010, the U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons has been providing YCI with funding to incorporate survivors of trafficking from local shelters in selected YCI programme locations. The funding has been provided with the aim to develop local capacity to enable the integration of these young people into YCI’s standard training programme.

The U.S. Department of State and YCI are collaborating in order to provide these young people with a chance to take a new direction in life and empowering them to make positive choices. Equipping them with the necessary skills and - equally importantly - the necessary confidence, has shown to make them less susceptible to find themselves in other vulnerable situations where they are at risk of exploitation.

Working with human trafficking survivors

In Mexico City and Hanoi, 18 young people who came from shelters for rescued survivors of trafficking, successfully completed the programme and have started developing careers in hospitality, as well as other business sectors such as retail. This amounts to 20% of the total number of YCI graduates in those locations.

The road to success however has not always been smooth. Working with such high levels of vulnerability and sensitivity, it has been a steep learning curve for the YCI team, as well as local partners.

The key to effectively engaging with the young survivors lies in having a good relationship with the shelters and letting them lead on which candidates are best placed to take part. Any former victim of trafficking has to have gone through a proper rehabilitation process and spent a minimum amount of time at a shelter before taking part in YCI.

YCI also asks that the shelters make an assessment of the candidates as to whether they will feel comfortable in a hotel environment. Sadly, various forms of exploitation can take place in a hotel setting and therefore some candidates won’t be able to flourish in that particular professional environment.

Raising awareness about human trafficking

To ensure that these vulnerable young people can benefit from appropriate levels of support while participating in the programme, YCI sets up tailored training for the hotel staff that will be working as mentors and teachers for the survivors.

In these half-day workshops, staff learn how to define human trafficking and to understand its underlying causes. Attendees look at the phenomenon specifically in the hospitality context and are given guidance on how to identify and respond appropriately to potential human trafficking cases. Another part of the workshop is dedicated to the trafficking experience and to understanding the needs of trafficking victims. Finally, hotel staff apply the learnings of the day by formulating how the YCI programme will benefit survivors who join the programme after completing their rehabilitation process.

The aim of the workshop is for hotel staff to be aware of the global issue of trafficking, and in particular, how the hotel industry may be affected by it. It helps staff to feel more confident in their ability to show a suitable level of understanding, confidentiality and sensitivity.

“To have training sessions for hotel staff seems indispensable. Often, one doesn’t know how to act, therefore training needs to be provided and ways to denounce [trafficking] need to be at hand.” (Participant, Mexico City workshop)

So far, YCI has successfully held three human trafficking awareness workshops in Mexico City and Hanoi. In total, about 50 hotel staff have attended these workshops.

Expansion plans

YCI is committed to developing local capacity to ensure that its work with human trafficking survivors stands on sustainable foundations and that it can be carried on and up scaled in the long term. Over the next two years, the YCI team will be strengthening the existing projects in Mexico and Vietnam by offering at least 25% of training places available in each cohort to rehabilitated trafficking survivors. YCI is now preparing to set up its third round of human trafficking awareness workshops in Mexico and Vietnam. Next year, the programme will also be conducting feasibility studies in Jordan, India, Ethiopia and Kenya in order to identify whether these countries would be viable locations for the new wave of pilots. Once the four new pilots are launched, the team will ensure that hotel staff has direct access to specialists on the subject of human trafficking. YCI will produce a good practice report at the end of the funding period in order to identify strategies to replicate and scale up the initiative.

For more information on the Youth Career Initiative, visit www.youthcareerinitiative.org or contact yci@iblf.org. See also our Know How Guide on Human Trafficking Awareness in the Hospitality Industry 

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