Screaming But Unheard

Angela Karanja Author Interview

Smuggled follows a teen girl that is abducted into child slavery and the efforts of her friend to find her and bring her back to safety. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

As an adolescent psychologist I have heard and seen all manner of child exploitation, abuse, trafficking, really all sorts of suffering of kids as modern-day slaves.

But nothing could have prepared me for the day this teen boy opened up and told me how his day starts at 4 AM in the morning, to clean up this big house, prepare breakfast for the whole family and get the younger children ready for school. I held back tears as I paid attention to every word and expression on his gaunt face. I kept my facial expression, focused, brave and impartial. One thing I have learnt whilst working with teenagers is, if you want to hear their whole heart and story, don’t frighten them by reacting just listen and be interested otherwise they stop sharing.

The boy was tall and slim. As he told me this story he sometimes sat on the chair and other times he walked about in the room. When he was silent, his eyes always appeared to be in deep thought yet blank. He said he had come from Germany and was living with this “sort of auntie”. Right there was my cue. I knew this was a case of child exploitation and modern-day slavery.

I encouraged him to report to the Safeguarding office at the college and took him there.

The next day, the kid never came back.

For the next month, I experienced Post Traumatic Signs. As I drove to work, I would look out hoping to spot him. I stopped at any kid who looked anything close to him. I was gripped with guilt and regret. Why didn’t I take him straight to the police station, or some safe shelter. This haunted me on and on until one day I said ENOUGH!

I have to write about what our teens are experiencing because every time I’m quiet and don’t bring this to the masses, a kid next door is suffering in silence….screaming but unheard. And that when I started writing the book SMUGGLED.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

The signs of teen trafficking and why we as a society must have the wisdom to spot and the courage to stop.

The powerful role of teen peers in identifying and reporting these occurrences.

How teen trafficking affects all of us as a society.

What is one thing about child trafficking that you think is misrepresented in the media?

Children who have been trafficked are usually portrayed as dirty looking, unkempt, unlearned slaves trapped in houses. Most of the time, these are children living amongst our own children in schools and colleges or in other settings where we visit on a daily basis. They are bright kids who have hopes and aspirations. Kids who have been deceived or coerced with the promise of a better life that obviously turns out nasty.

Traffickers and slave masters are shown as bad aggressive people. But on the contrary to this media image, traffickers are very often regular neighbours, co-workers, business people, notable professions, even religious leaders walking with heads held high yet have skeletons in the closet, they are benefiting from exploiting kids, modern day slavery.

The worst bit is how many of us are part of it ignorantly. For example, when your cleaner is from an agency that exploits people you become part of it. When you take your car to the cheapest car wash in town run by rogue exploiters, and you have these young people swarming to clean. When your handy person sends a young lad to do your work. Most of us never ask questions even when we feel iffy.

For example, there’s this case at this salon where I frequented. The young girl at the time must have been the age of my own teen kid. Yet she was working in this salon on a school day, standing all day. I was there for hours, and I did not see that kid take a break. Needless to say I reported it because I’d rather err on the side of caution. My instincts were right. The kid was soon interviewed and taken into care – she was obviously a minor.

Here’s the uncanny thing, the community ostracised me for reporting and “ruining the kid’s prospects” This is the kind of thinking that is surely skewed I tell you.

It does take Wisdom to SPOT and courage to STOP. Because without reporting it can not be stopped and this takes a willingness to be derided even by your own neighbours.

What is one thing that you hope readers take away from Smuggled?

Child trafficking is all around us and it’s more common than we think. We all can do something to spot & stop it – if we are willing.

That’s why together with the book we offer a free workshop Wisdom to SPOT & Courage to STOP.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

How a Talent Trip turned into a Trafficking Trip – Whoosh! – just like that she was gone!
Tuliana was 14 and had lived in her home country of Kenya with different people, in different places, at different times, for as long as she could remember. Then, out of the blue, she was ushered onto a plane with a group of teenagers and flown out of Kenya.
At a London airport she was separated from the group and whisked off in a car. Her experiences after this were creepy: she didn’t know where she was, or why.
Firstly, she was delivered to a home where she was grossly mistreated. Then to another where she wasn’t treated badly but she definitely didn’t belong. Finally, to another where she was treated really well – yet enslaved. In all those homes she was a slave – a modern day child slave.
Tuliana’s teen friend, Jonathan, whom she met on the plane during this Talent Trip was painfully worried. On returning to Kenya, Jonathan went to extremes to try find her – literally sacrificed his privileged life as a son of a British diplomat. He was thrown out of his family and the country and shipped back to live with his paternal grandparents in England.
Being kicked out only increased his motivation and efforts to find Tuliana. Jonathan mobilised teenagers from all over the world to join his “Operation Find Tuliana” campaign. The campaign picked momentum fast and began unsettling government systems. Teenagers were asking deep penetrating questions, demonstrating and disrupting status quo and stirred world leaders to STOP and LISTEN as teenagers demanded for ACTION not just TALK.
This campaign ignited bravery and vigilance among regular citizens who raised concerns and reported suspicious cases which led to the discovery of numerous children who were being exploited and abused up and down the country. Some children were living as full-fledged slaves, others as part times slaves – all, modern-day child slaves.
Tuliana was also unearthed having been illegally adopted in a supposedly “good family” but nevertheless a slave- the Cash cow for this family’s business.
If you are looking for psychological thriller packed full of suspense and tension that tackles the social issue of child trafficking, modern-day child slavery and abuse, told in the language of teenagers who have been victims of trafficking and those observing but can no longer stand and do nothing, then SMUGGLED is the book you want to read, plus buy one for your teen and your local library.

What’s even better is that, with this book; SMUGGLED you get a FREE TICKET to our Workshop – WISDOM to SPOT, COURAGE to STOP. (Worth over £667 BUT free for YOU with this book.)

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on October 29, 2022, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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