What’s on our radar in human trafficking

We just thought we’d share a few things that are on our radar (click on the links). Most are related to human trafficking or slavery and they are in no particular order.

10,000 children refugees have gone missing

Exploitation in electronics

(Get the full report here)

Recent change of focus for Destiny Rescue

We were so encouraged to see the latest reports from DR in late 2015. Rescuing girls is one thing, but having a best practice approach to rehabilitation and reintegration is another. Based on the numbers of rescues they were reporting in the beginning of 2015 we were concerned about how they were keeping up with the massive after-care process. We love that these guys are willing to go back to the drawing board and make sure they are complying with Governmental standards and helping these precious souls have long-term healing and change.

Shopping ethically

You will be horrified by some of the latest news stories you’ll read:

Most Aussies don’t know that in December Woolworths, Coles and Aldi were all buying prawns and seafood from a Thai company involved in the forced labour of men, women and children. If we knew our prawns caused someone else to be trapped in hell I’m sure we would all have a re-think about where we bought them.

This job in Margate with Save the Children

Maybe it will suit someone else 🙂 If you don’t know who Save the Children are check them out here.

Zika virus and travelling to Brazil

Obviously most things concerning Brazil are close to our hearts and this one is no exception. Another level of concern is that Tim and my Brother will be heading over to Rio in August this year to once again serve and observe all that God is doing in this country. We watch the spread and handling of this virus with deep concern and pray for the beautiful babies and families that are affected.

What is causing the microcephaly outbreak?

Olympics and Zika

Zika related abortion debate

That’s all for now…stay educated. Don’t shut yours eyes because it’s painful, but keep it balanced or we’ll all end up depressed.

Love Jess xxoo

Living Simply with my new favourite Blog by Jess

There are a few blogs that I follow. I try to be deliberate about what I’m viewing in a world where every one is trying to tell you something. I have tried to maintain a mix of fun and educational, but most of all, I keep it simple. This is my current list of blogs I faithfully subscribe to:

Wronging Rights

Un-Fancy

A Deliberate Life

Sweetest Menu

However, I now have a new one to add to my list. It was started by a friend of mine and is called Better Dressed. What is this new blog about?

Better dressed is an everyday girl’s guide to crafting a more ethical and sustainable personal style.  It documents my own pursuit of a better wardrobe: better for me, better for the environment and, most importantly, better for the people who make my clothes.

http://www.betterdressedblog.com

When I first saw this blog, everything inside of me went ‘Yes!”. Laura speaks about things that I am processing and working through myself. Thoughts about simplifying life, starting with what I wear and where I buy it from. In short, it’s about being a responsible global citizen.  I could go on about this blog, but I suggest you check it out for yourself.

Love Jess xxoo

Four days with abolitionists of child sex-trafficking by Jess

Disclaimer: If you’re hoping this post will be full of photos of the girls or details of heart wrenching rescue stories, you will be disappointed. Firstly, we haven’t built relationship with the girls or gained their permission. Secondly, it’s just not our style. We want to respect them and continue to create an environment where they feel safe, not exploited.

After our time in Chiang Mai, we jumped on a bus for the three hour trip to Chiang Rai, home of Destiny Rescue (DR). More on what they do a little later.

IMG_20140825_112721

We bunked in at our accommodation at Le Patta and decided it was up there with the nicest places we’ve stayed. We booked it in Chiang Mai whilst I was in the midst of a horrible bout of gastro, but we got a 60% discount, so it was more affordable.

The room was beautiful and Amy got to feed the giant gold-fish at the foyer every day. She loved it there and the staff loved her.

P1060185IMG_20140825_170457

Over the next few days we met staff (mostly in the Destiny Cafe) and got to learn more about what they do.

P1060154IMG_20140828_102707

For those of you who don’t know anything about DR, I’ve taken this blurb from their website to give you an idea.

Destiny Rescue is a grassroots, internationally recognised, Christian based, non-profit organisation dedicated to rescuing children from human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

RESCUE: Our Rescue Agents visit red lights areas undercover and identify underaged children. 

Once identified, they will either: 

  1. Build trust with the children and offer the safest escape route possible. 
  2. Partner with anti-trafficking police to gain intelligence and help facilitate a raid. 

The brothel managers are often arrested and the premises shut down, meaning no more abuse can take place there. Both methods of rescue are vital in fulfilling our vision to see child slavery ended in our lifetimes.


AFTER CARE: Through our aftercare programs, not only are these children and young adults offered medical care and counselling, they are brought to a “rescue home” where they can live peacefully, eat nutritious meals, get a valuable education and play interactive games with other children. In addition, when they reach a certain age, they can learn a skilled trade like sewing, jewellery making, hairstyling, waitressing or cooking. A proper education and vocational training are key components for successful reintegration back into society.

We were very honoured to spend one day with Jenny Kirwin, founder of Destiny Rescue. She took us to the rescue base and introduced us to people who gave us greater insight into what they do. They were gracious enough to answer our questions, even if some were a little tough. You can tell that everyone who works there loves what they do and has a passion for the beautiful girls they rescue. They are continually seeking to improve their integration processes and empower the once powerless to have a better life.

IMG_20140827_105011 IMG_20140827_112304 IMG_20140827_112344 IMG_20140827_112327

We did manage one touristy thing whilst in Chiang Rai. The always wonderful Jenny and her daughter Jessie, took us to see the white temple.

Some of the white temple is still off-limits due to renovations from a major earthquake, but I’m glad we went. Honestly it’s more an artistic creepy masterpiece than an authentic Thai temple. There are status of demons everywhere and inside the temple there is a mural with Star Wars images, which has nothing to do with Buddhism at all. It’s just a little odd.  See the last photo for one example.P1060166P1060168P1060181 copy

We finally said goodbye to Thailand and now we’re in Vietnam for about 6 weeks, but before I go I have just a few extra thoughts for you.

IMG_20140829_115818 IMG_20140829_140216

When we originally started planning this trip, Destiny Rescue was the first place we thought of and connected with. After all this time it was great to finally visit. We were able to hear their heart and let them hear ours. The solutions to child sex-trafficking in Thailand are simple and complicated at the same time.

Firstly, the simple… IT IS NOT OK, IT HAS TO STOP.

The complicated… there are cultural barriers, racism towards tribal groups and discrimination against the poor (because it’s their karma), political corruption, discouraging red-tape, financial restrictions, lack of staff, lack of resources and the list keeps going.

If you’re interested in the intervention and reintegration aspects of child sex-trafficking, this is my advice to you:

~ Realise that every organisation from prevention to reintegration needs to be working within their own specific area. We need each group to be working well and realise that one organisation can’t do it all. So find out what you’re passionate about, and support that organisation.
~ Realise that prevention looks like community development. By investing in a community or sponsoring a child, you are in fact fighting human trafficking. It may not be ‘exciting’, but it’s extremely powerful.
~ Financially support those who are on the field. It costs money to live overseas and it costs money to run training programs for girls (or boys). You’ll be surprised how far $10 will go a month. $10 is better than $0. Give what you can, but give something.
~ Read a few books (I ask everyone for their recommendations). Here are three to start with: When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, Walking with the Poor by Bryant Myers, The White Umbrella by Mary Frances Bowley. The No Project also have a great reading list: http://thenoproject.org/english/videos-books/books/
~ Go to uni and get the skills that organisations like DR need – trauma counselling, business management, administration, teaching, TESOL, social and human services workers, community development, international law etc.

Over the past 5 months we have been blessed to connect with many organisations and meet many people who have a passion to see human trafficking, specific the sex-trade, ended. We felt God ask us to step out and serve and observe groups such as these for a season. To be honest we don’t know why and we don’t know where it will lead our family. We are glad that we have stepped out of the boat and we can do our little part to help where we can.

So our journey continues and we will continue to follow where God leads.

Love Jess xxoo

A night on the streets by Tim

The Liberdade project in Brazil has been an incredible experience for our family. The project runs for the 31 days of the Fifa world cup and we are half way through. As soccer teams from all over the world have gathered to play in one of the world’s largest sporting events, the Liberdade teams reach out to the countless victims in Brazil’s notorious red-light districts and pray for an end to sex trafficking in the nation.

We have been privileged as a family to serve and observe what God is doing through this movement. I personally have been a part of the night outreach teams to the women and men of the streets and have been impacted in such a powerful way.

A night on the streets

I leave our apartment around 8pm and catch a taxi close to the prayer room.

Taxi

I walk across the bridge over a busy Rio road. I’m full of expectation as I pray and feel the Spirit stirring in me.PhotoGrid_1403896548939I walk under the train bridge…

Train bridge

…and past the bbqs and the bars.

PhotoGrid_1403895651296

I have walked down this street many times. It’s full of bars, bikers and places that make me wonder. Who goes there? Where do they come from? God, how do you see this place?

Street

I arrive at the building where the prayer room is running on the fifth floor.  24/7 this place is full of worship and prayer and is an unassuming beacon of hope and light in a dark place.

Outside prayer room

I join others and spend time in worship.

Worship time

We take time to pray and prepare our hearts. I feel love and power stirring inside of me.

IMAG1369_1

Then we head out as a team. We are ready and open to what the Holy Spirit wants to do.

Team walks

As we pass streets of brothels my mind races and my emotions bubble. These places are so foreign to me, but the more I go out the more comfortable I feel in this environment. God is doing a work in me and I’m welcoming the change.

IMAG1374_1

As we see girls on the roadside, three or four of our team members approach. With love in our hearts we engage with each girl and share the love of Jesus with them by telling them how special they are to Him. In many of the conversations the girls shed tears. Someone cares enough to say hi, to pray with them and give them words from their heavenly Father. We invite them to a weekly lunch held at the prayer room, give them gifts and say good night.

IMAG1376_1

We continue to walk and find more ladies to talk to. Men in cars troll the roads staring at the women, consumed by their own lust. I am angered and saddened but I pray for them, I ask God to change their hearts too.

IMAG1379_1

I take in the surroundings on a street where many ladies and transvestites work. It’s dark, sad and lonely. “I can’t feel hope anymore” describes one of the women in conversation. My heart breaks. Of the 20 women and men we saw on the streets we had conversations with about 10 of them. There are more tears, more gifts, more invitations. We feel a real openness tonight and our prayer is that light would shine through us and meet them where they are at.

IMAG1381_1

After a couple of hours we return back to the prayer room. We debrief and pray and team members are brought to tears from the experience.

I make my way home and walk along the now empty street. Solemn, prayerful and changed.

Street homeI get back in a taxi and within 5 minutes I’m home. I wait and settle my thoughts before I go to bed.

IMAG1393_1

It was a good night.

Who is Lisa Kristine? by Jess

Who on earth is Lisa Kristine? For those of you who haven’t already Googled her, she is a humanitarian photographer.

www.lisakristine.com

Tim first saw a video on TED talks (LINK below) in which Lisa featured. It goes for about 20 minutes, but it’s worth a watch.

Pretty amazing don’t you think?

Somehow Tim worked out that Lisa’s gallery is in Sonoma, a town we where going to drive through whilst in California. So, of course we eagerly stopped by.

P1020666

My first thought when we walked in was that I didn’t have room in my suitcase to buy anything 😦 That’s the problem when you’re travelling around, there’s no extra room in the suitcase.

Her photos are breathtaking. I think it’s Lisa’s ability to capture human emotion that moved me so much. You can not look into the lives of the people she comes into contact with and look the other way. The global statistics on slavery are given faces and names. It is Lisa’s gift to us and I’m so thankful for it. May people NEVER become a number or a statistic.

So who is Lisa Kristine? From my perspective, she’s an amazing photographer who is using her talents to bring light to a serious world-wide problem in the best way she can. She is a modern-day abolitionist.

Love Jess xxoo

 

Counting the numbers by Jess

bangkok-night

This is it, the countdown is on. I can hardly believe that in 7 days I’ll be on a plane heading off overseas to work with organisations rescuing women and children from sex trafficking. Crazy stuff! Half of me is excited and the other is having a little freak out. As I look at our to-do-lists and the days left on the calendar, sometimes the math (which I was never very good at) concerns me. Will we get everything done in time? Perhaps… fingers crossed.

With so many thoughts in my head, I’m sure it would be easy for me to forget why we’re doing this. Fortunately, I don’t. I know that as I write this there are millions of people world-wide, trapped in horrible situations from no fault of their own. While I sit here with my laptop, they sit in dark rooms, forced to ‘service’ countless customers and do unspeakable acts. I can not forget about human trafficking and sex slavery.

Tim and I have wanted to write blog about what’s going on globally, but the difficulty is making statistics and facts seem relevant and interesting. I know that for many of you, the details of modern slavery or trafficking are unknown. Don’t worry, that was me a few months ago. I’ll try give you the basics (from a few reputable sources) and then some more specific details about the places we are going. Perhaps then, if you didn’t before, you will see why we are doing what we’re doing.

Here I go…

You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.
– William Wilberforce

‘Slavery’ refers to the condition of treating another person as if they were property – something to be bought, sold, traded or even destroyed.

‘Human trafficking’ is another related concept, referring to the process through which people are brought, through deception, threats or coercion, into slavery, forced labour or other forms of severe exploitation.

dreamstime_m_32349546

Some global info:

  • The recent 2013 Global Slavery Index puts global slavery numbers at 29.8 million – more than Australia’s population of 23.4 million
  • 27% of all victims detected globally are children. Of every three child victims, two are girls and one is a boy. (United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, 2012)
  • Trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation accounts for 58% of all trafficking cases detected globally (UNODC, 2012)
  • 98% of all victims of sexual slavery/sex trafficking worldwide are women and girls (International Labor Organization, 2012)

It’s horrifying and absurd to think that there are currently more slaves on earth than at any other time in human history. But when that massive number overwhelms your heart, take a step back and consider that each one of them has a face and a name. While it may be impossible for any one of us to reach and rescue every one of them, each one of us can certainly make a difference in one precious life.
– Louie Giglio

Brazil Trafficking in Persons Report 2013, By US Department of State:

  • Child sex tourism remains a serious problem, particularly in resort and coastal areas in Brazil’s northeast. Child sex tourist typically arrive from Europe and, to a lesser extend, the United States.
  • The Government of Brazil does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so.
  • In 2012, the Government operated anti-trafficking offices in 16 states, but did not fund specialized services for victims of sex trafficking
  • The government took public measures to reduce demand for commercial sexual exploitation of children by continuing to raise awareness during the Carnival season.
  • Despite the significant number of child sex tourists visiting Brazil, there were no public reports of prosecutions or convictions for child sex tourism in 2012.
  • Brazil is a signatory of the 2000 UN TIP Protocol (United Nations – Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children).

If there were no demand for commercial sex, sex trafficking would not exist in the form it does today. This reality underscores the need for continued strong efforts to enact policies and promote cultural norms that disallow paying for sex.
– Trafficking in Persons Report June 2013, U.S. State Department

Thailand Trafficking in Persons Report 2013, By US Department of State:

  • Thailand is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking.
  • In 2012, children were exploited in the sex trade using false identification in karaoke or massage parlors.
  • Sex trafficking generally involves women and girls as victims. Sex tourism continues to be a problem in Thailand, and this demand likely fuels trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.
  • The Government of Thailand does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government has not shown sufficient evidence of increasing efforts to address human trafficking compared to the previous year.
  • In 2012, corruption remained widespread among Thai law enforcement personnel, creating an enabling environment for human trafficking to prosper. There were credible reports that corrupt officials protected brothels, other commercial sex venues from raids and inspections, colluded with traffickers, used information from victim testimony to weaken cases, and engaged in commercial sex acts with child trafficking victims.
  • Thailand is NOT a signatory of the 2000 UN TIP Protocol

Help-Me-4fd3ca61a3fda

If everyone will just do something, we will change the world.
– Mary Frances Bowley

These are the basic facts and numbers of modern slavery in the world today, so believe me when I say this is just scratching the surface. There is so much I don’t know; I am consciously incompetent. However, I know that doing nothing is not an option for Tim and me. We must do something and our ‘something’ just happens to involve travel and hands on engagement. So yes, I’m counting down the days until we leave and dealing with all the emotions that come with saying goodbye to family, friends and country, but I’m also counting the numbers of people who need to be set free. If I can be involved in just one rescue, I will be satisfied… maybe… probably not.

Love Jess xxoo

Resources

United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime – Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2013 http://www.unodc.org/documents/Global_Report_on_TIP.pdf

International Labor Organisation – Global Child Labor tends 2008-2012 http://www.ilo.org/ipecinfo/product/viewProduct.do;jsessionid=5885ca73218eb71626d7da341392b719b15d4ba1386bddda2eb6042cd72ca0e8.e3aTbhuLbNmSe34MchaRah8Tah90?productId=23015

US Department of State – Trafficking in Persons Report 2013  http://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2013/

One slave is too many by Jess

The Walk Free Foundation estimates there are 3000 slaves in Australia. This might seem small compared to the 30 million slaves world-wide, but honestly, I think one slave is one slave too many. As I recently investigated the state of slavery in my own nation, I read an article by the Sunday Morning Herald that highlighted this hidden tragedy within Australia’s boarders. Yet, another article renewed my hope that change is happening all around us and lives are being restored in countries all across the earth, including my own. There will always be those who fight injustice whether it’s considered a small or big problem.

article-1234177-07849C36000005DC-103_964x714

I am reminded of this little story below and I think of ‘the one’ who is still waiting to experience a ‘huge difference’…

The Boy and the Starfish

A man was walking along a deserted beach at sunset. As he walked he could see a young boy in the distance, as he drew nearer he noticed that the boy kept bending down, picking something up and throwing it into the water. Time and again he kept hurling things into the ocean.

As the man approached even closer, he was able to see that the boy was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and, one at a time he was throwing them back into the water.

The man asked the boy what he was doing, the boy replied,”I am throwing these washed up starfish back into the ocean, or else they will die through lack of oxygen. “But”, said the man, “You can’t possibly save them all, there are thousands on this beach, and this must be happening on hundreds of beaches along the coast. You can’t possibly make a difference.” The boy looked down, frowning for a moment; then bent down to pick up another starfish, smiling as he threw it back into the sea. He replied,

“I made a huge difference to that one!”

~Author Unknown~

I too can do something for at least one. Maybe that’s volunteering my time, donating to a cause, supporting those who are on the ‘front lines’ or making other people aware of what’s going on. I have hope in my heart despite the odds that we will all eventually believe that one slave is too many.

Love Jess xxoo