One of my best friends emailed me recently because he wanted to find out what we were actually doing in a foreign country. I thought that my response to him would give you a good idea about what we hope to accomplish.
We are currently volunteering for a non-profit organization called Operation Underground Railroad. It is an organization that rescues children from human trafficking. They have two main areas of focus: Rescue and Aftercare. The rescue teams consist of former special ops people that work in conjunction with the governments of the countries that they are in. They run stings in which they rescue children. They always work in conjunction with local law enforcement and the local government arrests and prosecutes the traffickers.
We have volunteered to work for the After Care side. After O.U.R. rescues children from sex trafficking, they work with the local government to try to get them back to their families or with someone safe. A lot of times the kids were sold into slavery by their families so at times it is not possible to return them. Some of the children were kidnapped so young they don't know where they are from. Some of them are orphans. If they can't find a safe place for the children, O.U.R. places them in After Care centers. They are similar orphanages or group homes. O.U.R. doesn't own or run after care centers but they find safe, healing places to help them financially and physically. At this point our family has 2 different areas we focus on.
1. There are several after care centers and orphanages that are willing to take girls after the have been rescued. We help them with whatever they need. We teach classes on lots of things; English, job skills, life skills, things as simple as how to interact with others, and how to have manners. We hope to give them skill set that allows them to get a job when they turn 18 so they don't have to return to what they know. Sometimes we go to help the girls see what a family dynamic should be like.
2. We are working in prevention of trafficking. We have a specific neighborhood that we are focusing on. The average household income is $100 a month and the children often times aren't able to go to school. Because of the poverty they are high risk for being trafficked or getting into gangs or selling drugs. We hope to help them stay in school by working with O.U.R. and other established organizations that help them financially to get supplies and clothes. If they can gain an education it reduces the chances that they will be victims.
Our hope is to get some sort of sustainable after school program that is run by locals that helps the kids learn to read, gives them job skills, and gives them a place to be after school instead of the street. We were there last Saturday to find kids that aren't in school to see if we can help them. Most of them aren't in school because they don't have birth certificates. Their parents make $100 a month so the cost of paying for their documents and uniforms is prohibitive for many families. We do what we can to help them.
All in all there are a lot of great people that are sacrificing their time and money to help the children here. Everyone that we are working with has a great story and a desire to help others. We hope to be a support to the great things that people are already doing here. It's pretty daunting to see all of the poverty in this country. We are interacting with such a small percentage of those that are in need. It makes our hearts heavy that we can't do more but we do what we can in our own limited way.
Living a Good Story