Meet Bukola Love Oriola – From a human trafficking victim to a member of the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking

On the 16th of December, 2015, President Barack Obama announced more key administrative appointments, including a Nigerian, Bukola Love Oriola, who was appointed as a member, of the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking. This appointment makes Bukola the second Nigerian to be appointed by President Obama over the past five days.

Bukola Oriola was a victim of human trafficking, however, after her ordeal she dedicated her life to helping others by sharing her story through public presentations. She has also put her experiences together in a book titled Imprisoned: The Travails of a Trafficked Victim.

A few things to know about her

  • Bukola is an award winning journalist who won the Cadbury National Award for Education Reporters in 2005, as well as a fellow of the International Institute for Journalism, Germany. She began her career in journalism in Nigeria in 2000 at Common Interest Communications, publishers of the now defunct, National Interest Newspapers.
  • She received an A.S. from The Polytechnic Ibadan, Oyo state Nigeria.
  • She has owned and managed Bukola Braiding and Beauty Supplies since 2007.
  • Bukola, now 39 years old, lives in Minnesota in the United States.

On her journey to the United States

Bukola, who was an education reporter and editor for the Nigerian newspaper NewAge newspaper in Lagos, travelled to New York in 2005 to cover the United Nations General Assembly and its 60th anniversary on a two-month visa. During her visit, she planned to see her husband who lived in Minnesota before returning to Nigeria because she had never met him. She married him at a traditional ceremony in Nigeria though he had not actually been at the wedding. When she met him in Brooklyn Park for the first time, he persuaded her to stay and filed a petition for her to come to the U.S. legally as his wife. She then became a victim of domestic violence. Her husband prevented her from establishing interpersonal relationships with anyone other than himself, subduing her to a life of unfree labour and confiscating all of her earnings. He abused her physically, emotionally, psychologically and verbally. She was a prisoner in her home for two years.

How she was rescued

After living in such abhorrent conditions, she decided to share her experience of abuse to a nurse who told her to seek immediate support at Alexandra House in Blaine, US, which provides services to people facing domestic and sexual violence in the surrounding area. After been rescued from the poor marriage, she went on to receive a U-visa, which protects undocumented victims of domestic abuse and other crimes and eventually a Green Card, becoming a permanent resident of the United States.

Works after being rescued

  • Due to her experiences of mistreatment from her husband, Bukola decided to create awareness for victims and survivors of human trafficking.
  • She started a non-profit organization known as the Enitan Story in August 2013 to advocate for victims and empower survivors of human trafficking.
  • She is currently working on a film about human trafficking.
  • Some of her published work includes: Bukola braiding photo book, Make hair soft in six weeks, Simple steps to hair braiding, and Imprisoned: The travails of a trafficked victim.
  • She also hosts the “Imprisoned Show,” aimed at immigrant communities worldwide to reinforce the awareness campaign and give survivors a platform to engage the world and tell their stories.
  • Bukola’s response to the appointment.

“I will like to commend the United States government. President Barack Obama and his team who have listening ears. They maintained the position of power with such grace. Having power is not by oppressing the weak but by giving grace and opportunity to the weak. They took a great step to elevate those that have been trampled upon, beaten, battered, and hopeless, by giving them a historic platform to be part of the positive change in the community.”

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