Regine (not real name) was 22-year-old in 2015 when she was trafficked to Uganda. Born in a poor family in Ruhango district, she had finished her high school studies and was looking for a job. “A friend of mine working as a maid in Kigali contacted me and told me there was a Rwandan businessman working in Uganda who was offering some good job opportunities in his shops based in Uganda,” she narrated to The New Times during an exclusive interview. Along with another girl from Ruhango, Regine joined her friend – the maid, and got set to travel to Uganda. “We went hastily. We did not really make a lot of preparations. In fact, among the three girls, it is only I who had a national ID on me,” she says. READ ALSO: Inside Rwanda’s war on human trafficking The “businessman” taking them to Uganda was a cross-border long distance driver. He put Regine onboard his truck and drove her all the way to the Gatuna border. The other two girls had to go through porous borders because they did not have IDs. “When I was with him at the border, he told me to tell no one that we are together. He ordered me to say I was traveling to Uganda to visit my father,” Regine recalls. After crossing, they linked up with the other two girls and the “boss” drove them to Busia, a town at the border of Uganda and Kenya. “When we arrived in the town, we were well received at his home. He was living with his wife. They treated us well for about the first week. We said to each other, ‘these are the best people on earth,’” she narrates. After the first week, things suddenly changed. The three girls were taken to work at the man’s bar where they were later forced to have sex with different men who would pay money to their boss. This went on for three months. Regine and her friends were constantly looking for ways to escape but they didn’t have money, almost knew no one, and their “boss” was so influential in the area that they feared that even law enforcement was on his side due to corruption. Lucky enough, he had not taken away their phones, and this gave them a window of opportunity in their quest to break free. “We would hide and call home for a few minutes. My parents connected me to a policeman in Rwanda, and I started to talk to him on the phone. He advised us to try hard and find ways to flee, because it was hard for them to come and rescue us in a foreign country,” she noted. They had arrived in Uganda in September, and now it was December and the ordeal was still going on. However, one night, an opportunity came up. On a very rainy night, when the three girls had returned to the boss’s house after “work,” they realised they could try to escape because the boss and his wife were asleep and could not really hear what was taking place. “We picked up all our belongings and stepped into the rain. We walked very fast to the house of one man who had come to the bar before and we had told him about our problems. He had promised to help us but had warned us sternly that we should make sure that the “boss” never gets to know,” Regine says. The man was a long distance driver as well, and had a trip to Rwanda during those days. So, he gave them a ride in his truck from Busia to Kampala, and then to the Gatuna border. “He had told us that all he would do was to bring us to the border. So, that is where he left us. We talked to the police officers at the border, and explained to them our situation. They transported us all the way to Kigali and took us to the Isange One Stop Centre,” she reminisces. In the few months that followed, Regine faced some trauma from what had happened to her, but she says, she has now got better and hopes for better things. “I want to get better, work and improve myself and my family,” she notes. Having passed through all that, she says human trafficking is real and calls upon people to always think critically about the opportunities that come their way.