Andreea had a sad and difficult childhood in Romania. She was placed in an orphanage as an infant and, when she lost her hearing at the age of six, moved to a hospital for people who are deaf and mute. She left the hospital age 16 and lived unsupported on the streets.
Her traffickers took advantage of her vulnerability with a promise of well-paid work in the UK, which seemed too good to refuse. However the moment she arrived, Andreea’s passport was taken from her and she was forced each day to go to a different location selling flowers on the street or begging with a card stating she was collecting money for charity.
At the end of each day she would be picked up and returned to a house where her traffickers forced her to hand over all her earnings under threat of beating. Surviving on very little to eat, she was beaten if she asked for more food.
One day she found the courage to communicate with a Community Support Officer in the street and showed the marks of her beatings. She was taken directly to a police station where she could share her full story through a sign language interpreter. The Police referred her to The Salvation Army who transported her to safety.
Andreea was initially fearful and staff had to work hard through sign language interpreters to reassure her that she was protected and entitled to help. During her stay they provided her with support and training to develop her independence and confidence. Among other things Andreea learned to cook, decorate her own room and other rooms in the house, write to friends in Romania and even attended local deaf groups. She was also supported to venture independently to the shops and town centre.
In the meantime, contact was made with appropriate agencies in the UK and Romania to arrange for Andreea’s return home, as this was her wish. Andreea was involved in the process of finding suitable accommodation in Romania. The Salvation Army ensured that she was safely accompanied to the airport and then met by a case worker from the Romanian safehouse where she is now living.
Andreea was also helped to give evidence to an ongoing police operation to bring her traffickers to justice.