Azadi is a survivor-led organisation whose goal is to create spaces and programmes that enhance the agency of survivors of trafficking, to support recovery from trauma and to sustain their reintegration into society.
Credit: Rose Kibara
Our goal is to create spaces and programmes that enhance the agency of survivors of trafficking, to support recovery from trauma, and sustain their reintegration into society.
We are doing this through the operation of a resource centre where the survivors receive vocational and soft skills training to empower them, give them valuable skills, and give them all it takes to become leaders of their communities. Our programmes also focus on aspects such as the mental health, leadership, well-being, and development of the survivors, giving them the tools they require to thrive.
Sophie Otiende is a survivor leader who founded Azadi Kenya in 2021 after many years of working with protection services for survivors of human trafficking and being involved in the rescue, shelter, rehabilitation and reintegration of hundreds of survivors. She has revolutionised the ways in which survivors are empowered and the frameworks with which survivors are assisted. Her work has been widely acclaimed, in 2020 she was recognised as a Trafficking in Persons Report Hero by the US State Department. They wrote this about her:
“Sophie Otiende is a champion for victims of human trafficking, advocating for their rights and elevating human trafficking as a priority, in Kenya. Her expertise, patience, and bravery have positioned her as a source of inspiration and a confidant for other survivors of trafficking she meets and serves. For the last ten years, she has worked with grassroots organizations in Kenya to provide services to trafficking victims and survivors, building Kenya’s victim assistance infrastructure and capacity”.
Sophie has trained hundreds of first responders, appeared as key note speakers at various conferences around the world and has advised the UN and several countries including the US, UK, and the EU on counter-trafficking efforts Sophie also serves on the Board of Directors for the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery.
With her vast personal and professional experience with human trafficking, Sophie was able to identify a gap in the services that were being provided. There was a lack of agency, community, and safe spaces for the survivors. She found that most of the direct service work was focused on the provision of care for a very short time and essentially most survivors were dealing with trauma for a longer period of time than what the direct service was offering. Then when the services were over, they were left to their own devices.
Survivors were often only seen as beneficiaries and not as people with expertise in the field of trafficking, who have the ability to take charge of their own progress and take leadership roles within the movement. Working towards this end Sophie believes that survivors need a community that will be there long-term, where they are being understood and where survivors can support each other to heal and grow. Having identified this gap, Sophie decided to found Azadi as a new survivor-led organisation in Kenya that can bridge the gap between direct service provision and long-term empowerment, growth, and life in the community which Azadi seeks to become.
Azadi is an Urdu word that means freedom and in Swahili it means expectations. Azadi’s logo is based on a Ghanian symbol called Fawohodie which means independence, freedom, and emancipation.
We have tried to take beautiful symbolism from different cultures and merged it with our dream of empowering survivors, all of which is represented in the name and logo of the organisation.