I’ve been sharing about my trip to S.E. Asia with the Exodus Road and some of the work they do. Many of you have asked what aftercare looks like for children who have been trafficked. I’m going to share some about that today, and tomorrow I’m going to share more specifics about the investigative work that Exodus Road does.
Investigations are at the heart of what Exodus Road does. It is the way they help both rescue victims of sexual trafficking as well as prosecute the people who are trafficking women and children. But through the Liberty Alliance formed by Matt Parker, Exodus Road’s founder, the organization is also able to help children with rehabilitation through partnerships with key after-care facilities. On our trip we were able to visit two such facilities.
First, we visited the Anti-Human Trafficking and Child Abuse Center. This facility is run by Khru-Ja, a man who has dedicated his life to both catching pedophiles and helping children who have been victimized. Khru-Ja has been helping with investigations of pedophiles in his country for over a decade as a key informant and partner to the police. During our visit, he ushered us into a meeting room and showed us some case files of men they have caught. What we saw was sickening.
Khru-Ja also operates a home for children who have been rescued from the clutches of sexual abuse within the sex trade. The home currently houses 38 kids (12 girls and 26 boys). This home is offered to kids until they turn 18, although Khru-Ja emphasizes that they could return if they needed to. The goal is to empower the kids with life skills to live on their own. A part of that is having the kids take part in running the home. There is a garden onsite, where they grow most of their own food, and the kids help maintain it, learning agricultural skills.
The kids also help to raise chickens, and they also grow their own mushrooms in a darkroom.
In addition to learning self-sustaining skills most of the kids are also attending school. But most importantly, they are safe . . . and free from the horrific realities that they once knew. We saw happy, joyful kids living a normal life.
The home is currently at capacity but there are plans to build a few more accommodations so that they can take in more kids.
Khru-Ja shared a bit of his own personal story with me, and why he is so passionate about helping. He grew up on the streets himself, and his soft heart is evident as he interacts with the children there.
We also visited Thrive Rescue Home, another after-care facility in the same city. Thrive is a smaller home that serves girls who have been rescued from sex trafficking, run by Americans Jeremy and Jen Kraus. They have a huge empahsis on caring for the psychological needs of rescued girls. "You can rescue kids all day long but if you don't develop relationships at the top and the bottom it will never stop," they told us.
When girls enter the home, there is a sign that outlines their goals for the girls, so that they can understand that they will be cared for.
Thrive is big on dreams and goals, and helping their girl achieve. "Our goals for them are the same for anyone has for their own kids," Jen said. They take a customized approach to each child, helping to enroll them in vocational school or university, giving scholarships, and teaching employable skills. Here, a wall of the girls’ vision boards.
They also offer a myriad of services to help the girls heal, from counseling to art therapy to music lessons. It really is a rich environment that promotes psychological health and safety.
At both aftercare facilities, I asked about family reunification, and received the same answer: it depends. Family reunification is taken on a case-by-case basis. In some instances, it’s not safe. Sometimes the family was a part of involving the child in the sex trade to begin with. In some cases, kids live in an aftercare facility for a bit and then return home. For other kids, returning home is not a viable option, so the facility will help them launch into adulthood.
It was beyond disturbing to confront the horrifying reality of the child sex trade, but it was also a comfort to know that there are people fighting to combat it, and to restore the victims. I love that Liberty Alliance is looking at this problem from all sides. As I mentioned, in my next post I will outline the important work they are doing to help prevent, rescue, and prosecute. I will also be outlining how you can get involved. My goal? 100 new supporters this Independence Day . . . 100 people willing to promote freedom for those who don’t have it. If you are compelled already, here’s how you can join me.
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