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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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 Merry Update

Merry Christmas everyone! We thought we’d end this year with a more detailed update of our trip plans. We have been so overwhelmed and blessed by people’s love, words, excitement and support for us at every step of the way. We have amazing family and friends and we feel like we’re doing this with you.

So, what are we planning?

A quick snapshot: USA – April, Brazil – May to July, Turkey for 3 nights, Thailand for a year – August 2014 to September 2015….

Travel Map

USA – Northern California & Florida (1 month)

Time for a holiday! We’re going to stay in San Francisco for about 5 nights before doing a little road trip up north to Redding (including a few days near Yosemite).  Although some of the destinations are only a few hours apart, we want a relaxing trip and have to keep Amy in mind. We’ve never done a road trip together before, so it’s bound to be lots of fun. We’ve paid for a some of the accommodation and hire car and pretty much know where we’d like to stop along the way. After 12 nights in Redding catching up with friends and celebrating Easter at Bethel, we’ll be heading over to Florida to connect with an amazing couple we met in Pennsylvania in 2011.

Brazil – (3 months)

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When Tim went to Brazil earlier this year, he fell in love with some incredible people and we’re so excited to stay with Hangar7 for about 3.5 weeks. We’re hoping to serve and observe in any way we can during this time. It’ll be a great opportunity for us to be exposed to a different church culture. Hopefully we’ll get some Portuguese lessons too.

Rio
Jess turns 30 in Rio, so we’re meeting up with her folks and sister to spend two weeks exploring the city and filling up the family love tank. After this we’ll be spending a month partnering with Exodus Cry during the FIFA World Cup. We’re so excited to connect with these guys and learn as much as we can from them. This will involve a lot of prayer and worship as well as street outreach. Between us, we’ll spend 6 hours a day in the prayer room while the other person looks after Amy. How involved Amy will be in this venture will depend on the atmosphere and environment. We will be connected with a local church (we think) and hope/pray that they will be able to host us… otherwise, we’ll have to look for our own accommodation eeekkk! If we’re lucky, we may even attend a soccer/football match.

Rio

Recife
The end of our Brazil leg will be a two-week visit to Shores of Grace. The leaders of this great ministry were Tim’s trip leaders when he was in Brazil in March. This incredible couple (Nic & Rachel Billman) and their team have a huge heart for Brazil and the women and children in Recife effected by poverty and abuse. This will be more time of connection and learning.

Turkey – Istanbul (3 nights)

It’s about a 12 hour flight from Sao Paulo to Istanbul and then another 7 hours or so to Bangkok. If we were just travelling as a couple we may not have scheduled this stop, but once again, we need to keep Amy in mind and be fair on her. So a stop over in Istanbul for three nights is our plan. We haven’t booked our accommodation yet, but we have somewhere in mind. We looked into making a trip down to Gallipoli, but it’s a 5 hour drive one way and a two-year old in a car for 10 hours in one day is probably not the best idea. We’ll stick to easy things and we know we’ll enjoy our short time there, now we just wish it was longer!

Istanbul

Thailand – (1 year minimum)

This is the least organised part of the trip so far. Here’s what we have on the cards at the moment. We’ll fly into Bangkok and then head over to Phuket. We’re hoping to attend the Australian Christian Churches (ACC) International conference where missionaries come together with Australian pastors to connect.

After this we plan on serving with Destiny Rescue, taking a single volunteer position between the two of us. Once again this will mean that Amy will always be well looked after. How this will look we are yet to work out.

We hope to get a 2-3 bedroom apartment whilst in Thailand to host any family and friends who may want to visit . There is always room at our Inn (nice Christmas reference there) if you want to check out what Destiny Rescue are doing or just want to come and hang with the Greenwoods.

Sometimes we have to pinch ourselves!

When we think about all the different destinations of this adventure, we want to be at all of them now. We want to be holidaying in the USA, praying for people in Brazil, walking through the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, and partnering with Destiny Rescue in Thailand. How exciting and challenging at the same time! There’s so much more planning (and spending) to come and of course that can be stressful, but we’ll just keep going at it and enjoy this part of the ride.

Once again from our family to yours… Merry Christmas!

Love Tim, Jess & Amy