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'Sr Stan saved my life', says woman trafficked here aged just 15

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‘She’s my grandma’: Chino Okeke was trafficked into Ireland from Nigeria aged 15 but met Sr Stan who she says is her ‘guardian angel’

‘She’s my grandma’: Chino Okeke was trafficked into Ireland from Nigeria aged 15 but met Sr Stan who she says is her ‘guardian angel’

‘She’s my grandma’: Chino Okeke was trafficked into Ireland from Nigeria aged 15 but met Sr Stan who she says is her ‘guardian angel’

A woman trafficked into Ireland from Nigeria when she was 15 has revealed how homelessness campaigner Sr Stan saved her life.

Chino Okeke was forced into a job as an unpaid domestic worker and was regularly beaten and abused.

Rescued by social services, she ended up in a foster home but at 18 she was out on the street with nowhere to go.

She tried to take her own life, which is when she met Sr Stan. The nun found her a home and helped to arrange a university education and an Irish citizenship application.

"Sr Stan saved my life. Today I am a career woman, smart, with a good job and happy and that would not have been possible if I did not meet Sr Stan. She started that journey for me," said Ms Okeke.

Speaking on a new RTÉ documentary on Sr Stan's life, Ms Okeke said: "I call her my grandma. I love her so much.

"She's the reason why I'm here today. She's my guardian angel. She was there for me when I literally had no one.

"She sees you. The way you are treated by society you feel you do not deserve love, you do not deserve anything. She was the first person that saw me.

"That hope she gave me made everything ok. She sees people and sees them as human. She is everything to me."

Sr Stan (80), who is in remission from cancer, said she did a lot of work with girls and women who were trafficked for sexual exploitation.

She tells the documentary of her horror at being tarnished by child abuse accusations made against her religious order. She said she knew "absolutely nothing" about child abuse in St Joseph's residential home in Kilkenny where she worked in the 1970s.

The Ryan Report revealed two lay workers at St Joseph's had sexually and physically abused children. It criticised the owners of St Joseph's, the Sisters of Charity, for failing to learn anything from a hushed-up case in 1954.

"I can understand why people find it hard to understand how we didn't know, how I didn't know," said Sr Stan.

"But I suppose now, the more we hear about it, and the more we realise what an awful, dark hidden secret it is and how frightened the children are and the gap that is between the children and the people caring for them, there is much more awareness of that now."

'Being Stan: A Life in Focus' is on RTÉ One on Thursday at 10.15pm.

Irish Independent