Vulnerable women in Nairobi, Kenya are being preyed on by baby stealers who take their children and sell them to feed a thriving black market.
The stolen babies to order are sold for as low as $300 which is US $396.42.
The driving force behind the black market is a cultural stigma around infertility. In African marriage a woman is expected to have a child and it should be a boy.
A woman who is infertile can be kicked out of her home and most of them in this situation is put in touch with a trafficker, who uses vulnerable people to snatch children on the street.
Many mothers share similar stories of how their children were stolen and the pain they still suffer not knowing where or if their children are alive.
Most of these women are homeless and beg on the streets as a means of providing for themselves and children.
According to the BBC’s Africa Eye, one mother had her first child taken from her when he was one-year- old, at the time she was only 16 living on the streets and getting high from sniffing jet fuel.
That cheap high would give her the courage to beg strangers for help. She was forced into the streets at age 15, after her mother could no longer provide for her. During that time she met an older man who promised to marry her, she became pregnant and soon after the man abandoned her and the baby.
"Even though I have other kids, he was my firstborn, he made me a mother," she said, fighting back tears. "I have searched in every children's centre, in Kiambu, Kayole, and I have never found him."
She still lives on the street in Nairobi where her baby was stolen and now has three more children, her youngest was grabbed once when she was 1, by a man the child had asked to buy her a drink, luckily she followed the man and rescued her daughter.
Another mother’s three-year-old son disappeared in August 2018. "I have never been at peace since I lost my child," she said. "I have searched for him all the way to Mombasa."
Over the course of a year-long investigation, Africa Eye has found evidence of children being snatched from homeless mothers and sold for massive profits.
Africa Eye said baby-stealers range from vulnerable opportunists to organised criminals — often both elements working together.
There are no reliable statistics on child trafficking in Kenya — no government reports, no comprehensive national surveys. One of the few safeguards for mothers whose children are taken is Missing Child Kenya, an NGO founded and run by Maryana Munyendo. In its four years in operation, the organisation has worked on about 600 cases, Munyendo said.