Bukola Oriola no longer considers herself a victim.
While she has her own story of being trafficked, she’s had help and moved on with her life. Now she is a survivor.
Which is what she hopes to continue doing for others with the establishment of The Enitan Story, a non-profit organization created to offer the kind of support and advocacy Oriola knows others need in order to move on.
“My goal is not to have public sympathy, but for those who need help to be able to reach out,” Oriola said.
Pronounced “any-ton,” the word enitan means someone with a story. The Enitan Story works in advocacy, as well as referrals for victims to find help nearby. Oriola and others with the organization also mentor survivors through support group and life coach programs.
“I do know what victims go through,” Oriola said.
The organization received its non-profit status earlier this summer and on Saturday, Aug. 16 it will host its first “Taste for Hope” fundraiser at 4-6 p.m. at the United Methodist Church of Anoka, 850 South St., Anoka. Tickets are $25 each and will include a night of music and food tasting from local vendors.
It will be a chance to advocate for victims and survivors of human trafficking.
Oriola lives in Anoka and runs her own hair braiding business in Spring Lake Park. She is also a single mom to a 7-year-old and attends Anoka Ramsey Community College with plans to transfer to Bethel University to complete a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership.
Her passion for helping others, specifically raising awareness of human trafficking, is clear. She says she has turned her life around to advocate for victims and empower survivors of human trafficking.
A native of Nigeria where she worked as a journalist, Oriola was trafficked by her husband (a U.S. citizen) while living in Anoka County. He controlled her life and all of the money she made for two years.
While anyone can be trafficked, immigrants are particularly vulnerable, she said, because they can be having a hard time navigating the changes of living in a different country with a different culture.
“I want people to have an open mind – there is more than one kind of trafficking,” Oriola said, referencing labor, sex, and human organ trafficking.
“In my own experience, all kinds of trafficking are bad.”
Oriola said she is now living as a helper, believing that prevention is far more effective, and less expensive, than a cure.
She was able to get out, and get help with local support services, but she knows what it is like to not even be able to trust a person who wants to help.
This can make it difficult for victims to access, or follow through, with getting help.
Oriola was one of 20 women invited to the White House earlier this year to offer her insights on human trafficking.
“They were so respectful of us, they treated us as experts,” Oriola said.
She is a volunteer producer with NorthMetro TV, producing the “Imprisoned Show.”
She is also the author of the book “Imprisoned: The Travails of a Trafficked Victim.”
To learn more about The Enitan Story, or to RSVP for the upcoming Taste of Hope, visit www.enitan.org.
Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]