O.U.R.’s Model of Care
O.U.R.’s Aftercare program has one mission: to support survivors of human trafficking and exploitation on their healing journeys through meeting their individual needs. The current model of the program is to empower and support in-country aftercare centers in areas that O.U.R. operates in. Since the reach and impact would be limited if O.U.R. attempted to provide this all on its own, we collaborate with in-country centers already serving the needs of survivors. This allows us to meet survivors' needs far beyond what we could do alone. It is also of benefit to the survivor to have in-country specialists familiar with their cultural and socio-economic needs.
To ensure the highest quality of care, O.U.R. provides a diligent and rigorous vetting process to assess the aftercare centers, safe homes, and organizations we collaborate with. The O.U.R. Aftercare Team also works closely with the O.U.R. Ops Team and government officials to meet the needs of survivors based on the individual cases. They then communicate directly with the centers about upcoming rescues and any predicted needs to help the aftercare facilities prepare the needed services.
Survivors are also referred to O.U.R. by aftercare homes when the center is unable to meet a specific need, such as medical expenses, mental health services, educational programs or celebrations. The Aftercare Team at O.U.R. works on ensuring those survivors receive the holistic services necessary to help them thrive.
In addition, Operation Underground Railroad empowers local staff at the aftercare centers by providing training to ensure the highest quality of care is given to the survivors. Through our widespread network, the organization also acts as consultant and liaison between different groups, creating a larger support system to fight against human trafficking.
The Start of the Aftercare Program
In O.U.R.’s early days, the understanding was that social workers in the specific state or country that O.U.R. was operating in took care of the survivors' needs.
As the organization grew in size and scale, Founder Tim Ballard began to get questions like, “Well, what exactly are the social workers doing?” “What exactly does aftercare look like?” Unable to answer these questions, it drove Tim to find a solution.
In early 2014, Tim and the small team began to educate themselves on the aftercare services provided in the countries they were working in, and they came to find that often the care needed improvement and more support. This began the trial and error process of O.U.R.’s Aftercare program.
Beginning as a small start-up, it took many attempts to get the program off and running. It wasn’t until Tim was introduced to Jessica Mass, now the VP of Aftercare, that the program began to truly flourish.
Jessica realized that the main problem around the world was the need to increase the quality of care, and that was unable to happen due to a lack of budget. Therefore, it was proposed that O.U.R. collaborate with the in-country aftercare homes and financially support them to provide these services to survivors. O.U.R. began to vet aftercare homes, and through unifying together, we are now in over 20 countries supporting both short-term and long-term aftercare.
In-Country Coordinators Are Integral to the Aftercare Program
As we have expanded, O.U.R now has in-country coordinators in four different countries. The coordinator's responsibility is to follow up with every survivor and every aftercare home to increase the quality of all holistic services.
“There is no one size fits all for survivors. Healing for survivors is an ongoing process and everybody needs something different. And we want to meet survivors right where they are.” - Jessica Mass, VP of Aftercare
Our Aftercare Team has a wide variety of backgrounds, working with survivors and support services alike, and also utilizing the evaluations and standards of the country that are provided by local authorities. The role of the in-country coordinators is integral to allowing O.U.R. Aftercare to grow and expand worldwide. Here’s a look at some of our regions and incredible in-country coordinators.
Jib, In-Country Coordinator for Southeast Asia
Jib discovered she wanted to work in social services when she was getting her B.A. in Humanities Faculties and realized how severe the issue of child exploitation was. She then sought out to gain more specialized training in trauma healing and trained as both a NLP practitioner and became certified in psychotherapy. Jib has worked in aftercare for seven years and continues to support survivors in building a new foundation to help them thrive.
Ruth, In-Country Coordinator for West Africa
Ruth is an accomplished professional who specializes in social work, gender rights protection, and aftercare. She has a passion for defending abused children and women and ensuring that their rights are fully exercised. She has served in the Abuse Relief Corps for six years and has played a massive role in bringing many predators to justice. One of her biggest aspirations in life is to be an advocate for women and children and help them stand up to injustice, which she is doing in her role as Country Coordinator for the survivors in Ghana.
Ayman, In-Country Coordinator for the Mediterranean
Ayman has a background working in the Royal Police Academy as an instructor and a supervisor. He also was Head of the International Relations Department at the Jordanian Cultural Association for Aftercare. With his well-versed background in aftercare and law enforcement, he has been such a positive force for good serving as the coordinator for the Mediterranean. His experience in the police force and humanitarian work has given him a holistic perspective to serve the women and children in the aftercare with the healing services they need.
Sam, In-Country Coordinator for East Africa
Sam has extensive experience and skill in working with children and women who have suffered trauma from human trafficking. He holds a post graduate diploma and bachelor’s degree in Social Work. He specializes in case management of vulnerable groups, community development, small business training and business planning, child protection and rights, facilitating aftercare plans for survivors, communication skills, and cooperation and collaboration with international humanitarian organizations. Sam has diligently organized survivors and programs to enable the highest quality of holistic aftercare. His dedication to assist survivors, his willingness to work and travel to hard-to-reach areas and his commitment to support in their healing journey is unmatched.
Aftercare Program Going Forward
Since 2014, Aftercare has grown immensely both in services and in size. We are consistently working to expand the program in various ways as we meet the various needs of survivors. In the near future, O.U.R. is creating a host home program so that when survivors age out of the aftercare home, they have a place to go if they are unable to return with family. We are also in the process of creating a mentorship program to continue to uplift the youth and survivors that we serve. Thank you to all of our incredible aftercare coordinators and team across the globe for working together to bring the highest quality holistic services to survivors in need.