In Romania, Not For Sale supports Mariana and her team of local abolitionists to repatriate trafficking survivors. We work with men, women and children who have been trafficked all around the world – from Romania to France, from Bangladesh to Romania, and from town to town within Romania.
Since the beginning of 2011, Not For Sale Romania has supported 63 survivors of human trafficking. We provide shelter, education, healthcare, extensive counseling, and vocational training to survivors who have been trafficked for labor, prostitution, or even illegal adoption. In order for a survivor to fully regain self-worth, dignity and integration, the rehabilitation process itself needs to embody free will. In this sense, every case of human trafficking is different, as every person reacts and recovers at different paces. Although the strategy remains consistent, the respect for independence, flexibility, personalized care, and unconditional support is what makes Not For Sale Romania successful.
Just outside Timișoara, NFS Romania operates a small farm where survivors of human trafficking live on the property and maintain three greenhouses out of which they sell produce to local restaurants and catering companies. This creates an environment where survivors gain skills, earn an income, and provide themselves with an opportunity for a future. Our next step in Romania will be to implement a pilot program to scale the farm. We will complete the construction of a building that can house up to 40 men and women working on the farm while expanding the land to plant a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Primarily, Not For Sale will grow and produce a product that will be distributed in western Europe through our Netherlands operation.
In attempts to address the issue of human trafficking from Eastern to Western Europe, NFS is going “upstream” to develop a prevention program that will be implemented in 5-10 schools in Romania alongside the NFS Romania and the NFS Netherlands team. The manual will contain perspectives of both women in Romania and those that have been trafficked to The Netherlands. Continuous research and evaluation will be conducted as the program is implemented in order to evaluate our impact. Eventually, the program will be scaled and replicated across Eastern Europe.
Romania’s unique geographical position as a gateway between Europe and Asia makes it a source, transit, and destination country for human trafficking. Victims of all ages are trafficked for prostitution, forced labor, organ trafficking, to be used as surrogate mothers, and into criminal rings used to steal, beg, etc. Children, women, and those of mental disabilities are particularly at-risk in Romania to be used in prostitution, pornography, as surrogate mothers, or in drug trafficking.
When Romania joined the EU in 2007, border control became simplified, making it easier to traffic men, women, and children in and out of Romania. In 2009, the government restructured its lead anti-trafficking agency, leading to a significant negative impact on the progress towards combating human trafficking. No federal funding was provided, causing many NGOs to close down or divert their focus elsewhere. Many argue Romania is left without a reliable government agency to provide direction, implementation and protection for trafficking victims.