Recent natural disasters have affected many states and countries where we have partner aftercare homes, specifically in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Mexico. O.U.R. does it’s best to prevent trafficking and rescue from trafficking. The same is true when it comes to supporting our partner aftercare homes to be prepared before a disaster and support them after a disaster. According to statistics from Polaris, traffickers often spend their time recruiting wherever they see a vulnerability of which they can take advantage. The natural disasters in the U.S. and around the world present traffickers with many vulnerabilities to target. It is important to focus on prevention of human trafficking by providing resources and aid in the long-term healing of those affected states and countries.
Two Medical-Grade Tents Donated
Although our aftercare homes and survivors have not been directly damaged by the recent natural disasters, we are working to help these affected areas so those who are vulnerable to trafficking may be helped. Several months ago, O.U.R. was able to purchase two medical-grade tents specifically for these types of situations – to provide shelter in case of facilities being destroyed. Between hurricanes and earthquakes, this is the reality of the additional challenges survivors face internationally.
Volunteers Make On-Site Visits
The day before the hurricane hit, our full-time volunteers in the Caribbean did an on-site visit to the vulnerable youth and survivors of trafficking to make sure all their needs were met. During this visit, they helped prepare the valley for the storm that was coming. They assisted in making sure a local church would be able to house anyone left without a home.
Natural disasters affect the ability to provide the necessary support for aftercare homes: an issue oftentimes overlooked. It’s beautiful how giving hearts step up to take care of their fellow man when circumstances outside of their control occur. However, we received one report after the hurricane of an aftercare home that was so low on donated food, they were faced with the fear to possibly send over ten teenage girls back to unvetted family members, leaving them susceptible to sexual exploitation.
“We have one girl right now that was affected by the recent hurricane in the Dominican republic, and she is currently missing,” said Jessica Mass, Director of Aftercare for Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) in an interview with Fox 13 News.
Mass says these natural disasters are a hunting ground for human traffickers.
“What happens afterwards is that you have thousands of children that are on the streets, and they’re looking for someone to keep them safe,” Mass said.
“It’s absolutely heartbreaking. There are nights you stay up, and your thoughts are continuously spinning. How can you help, how can we help these kids that are so vulnerable. Anything that we can do to save these children before they go into trafficking before somebody says, ‘I’m going to prey on your vulnerability,’ anything we can do to stop it before it happens, we do.”
Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and fires are out of anyone’s control. But what we can control is providing hygiene kits, food, emergency tents for shelters, and on-site visits to make sure an evacuation plan is in place. We are so grateful we have a community of people that surround O.U.R. as a family. It is O.U.R.’s desire that the children rescued know they are never alone. With your donations, we will be able to continue to provide food, shelter, hygiene, and on-ground support. With the recent influx of hygiene kits from many generous O.U.R. volunteers and donors, we have been able to do just that. We are also grateful for the many local and global organizations who have joined the fight by contributing their time and resources to the people affected all around the world. Thank you for assisting those who are left in vulnerable situations after natural disasters.
What can YOU Do?
The question is often asked – how are kids trafficked in America? Read this post to learn more about this issue and what we can do to prevent it from happening.
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