Written By: Hannah W.
Today is Saiya*’s first day of college. It has taken her a few years of private study to catch up to her grade level and today, she finally gets to join her friends at the local college. Saiya is surrounded by a community that has walked the same painful road she has. Inside the safety of their relationship, she is brave and able to build towards her future. Saiya is 20 now and a completely different girl than the 16-year-old we met trapped inside of a brothel.
At the age of 12, Saiya was sold by her sister into a red-light district. She spent the next four years trapped inside of a brothel, being beaten and raped, her will to live slowly being chipped away. She recalls her time in the brothel in bits and pieces. The details are hazy, but the trauma is burned deep into her soul.
When Saiya came to our safe house outside of the city, her very first contact was a woman named Reaha*. Reaha had also been trafficked at the age of 12. She was rescued, restored and is now a trained counselor, walking other girls down the long road towards healing and freedom. To this day, Reaha and Saiya share a special bond. As Saiya walks this road to freedom, she too dreams of the day she can find her role, and help fight for others’ freedom.
Traffickers are strategic. They are planned, calculated, and have a global network, systematically capturing and breaking victims’ wills. Traffickers are smart which means that to combat trafficking successfully takes strategic planning and community collaboration.
Our approach to eliminating trafficking centers around a three-part strategy: Recognize and Resource, Reach and Rehabilitation, and Restore and Renew. Key to each of these areas is two things: relationship and resources. Across every facet of our fight against trafficking, we recognize that relationships and resources are necessary to take ground in the fight for freedom. Our approach centers around holistic care and restoration for trafficking victims and through this strategy, we have seen life-changing transformations take place in thousands of lives.
Recognize and Resource:
- Identification of at-risk communities and people
- Trafficking prevention
- Training, equipping
- Community outreach
We believe the best rescue is the one that never has to take place. Through awareness, training, and prevention programs, we work to secure at-risk children inside of vulnerable communities. We define “recognize” as not simply “awareness” but “awareness + action.” Awareness and training programs equip concerned citizens and vulnerable communities with the tools they need to identify and address trafficking. Through the use of food, water, education and disaster relief, we can step into vulnerable communities and successfully facilitate trafficking prevention.
Reach and Rehabilitate:
- Community outreach
- Relationship building
- Counseling, medical care
- Education, vocational training
This is the core of what we do – rescuing trafficking victims. One of our most effective strategies is inviting girls into their own rescue, with the freedom to choose when they are ready to leave. When they are ready, we help them rebuild their lives. This includes education and vocational training programs as well as a plan for physical and mental health care.
Restore and Renew:
- Job Placement
- Engagement in a Local Care Network
We equip rescued girls to transition out of rehabilitation and back into society with tools to earn a living wage, secure a safe place to live, find a job and provide them with knowledge of how to manage money and plan for the future. A vital component of holistic restoration involves a commitment to build back into the community by investing in others, serving and being an active community member. This is the phase where Reaha found her passion for counseling and committed her life to helping other victims. We have also seen legal reform, policy change and victim advocacy come out of this phase.
There are 40 million slaves in the world today. Alone, that is a daunting number. But together, through strategically attacking trafficking from all sides, we believe that we can bring an end to human trafficking. It will take all of us, finding our role in the fight, but together we can see health and hope restored to trafficking victims.
*Name changed for protection
Frequently Asked Questions
The freedom process is a long, messy one. When a woman is trafficked, her will is slowly and systematically broken down by traffickers. The extremity of abuse she experiences is one we cannot accurately articulate. Activating her will in the freedom process, literally letting her choose freedom, is the only way true freedom will take place in her life. In our 20+ years of experience, we have seen that when a woman partners in choosing her freedom, she is more successful walking the road to healing. (There is an exception to this when we encounter minors)
Because the road to freedom is messy, there isn’t a timeline for healing. Each of us takes different amounts of time to find healing and forgiveness and the same is true for trafficking victims. While we would like to give you a canned answer to this, the reality is, that’s not the way humans work. We strive for true healing and freedom in these girls’ lives and are committed to walking with them in the context of a community until they are ready to help carry that weight. Our goal with every girl is complete healing and that includes her physical, mental, spiritual, and economic health.
We get asked this question a lot. The truth is – we all have a vital role to play in the freedom process! A girl cannot choose freedom unless the support and resources are there to meet her. Without a community rallying around her, she will not be able to step into healing. Making sure resources are available to her is a critical component of rescue.
For more information on human trafficking, check out these resources!