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Category: Aftercare

WHAT DOES O.U.R. DO IN UTAH?

WHAT DOES O.U.R. DO IN UTAH?

Here is what Operation Underground Railroad has been up to on the home front in 2017.

FREE AT LAST EVENT

On January 17, O.U.R. Volunteers gathered at the Crossfit O.U.R. gym to organize hundreds of hygiene kits and care packages for our Aftercare program to deliver to survivors. Children’s toys, soccer balls, granola bars, and toiletry items were donated.

VALENTINE’S DINNER

 Thanks to doTERRA, The Rock Church, Missio Dei, and the nearly 300 incredible volunteers, we were able to hand out 93 bags of hope, blankets, and Valentine’s Day cards to incredible women from The Road Home shelter in Salt Lake City. The event was held at Caputo’s Market & Deli in downtown with The Rock Church. Many of these women, who have been through so much, came up to our team with tears in their eyes saying, “This has truly been a magical night. Thank you for making us feel valuable and beautiful!”

O.U.R. Aftercare also has plans to support Red Light Outreach which ministers to girls in this very area.

 

ST. GEORGE TRAINING

In January 2017, St. George Police Department reached out to O.U.R. for assistance with an investigation targeting numerous massage parlors suspected of using trafficked foreign nationals to provide illegal services to customers. O.U.R. partnered with SGPD providing resources and assistance with translation services for the foreign national victims and witnesses. The successful collaboration showed how SGPD and O.U.R. could set the standard for such public-private partnerships. 

This is a sample of the kind of operation O.U.R. assisted with.

(photos from TheSpectrum.com)

O.U.R. is so grateful for our many supporters inside the state of Utah and throughout the rest of the world who help us further our mission to rescue children from slavery and assist law enforcement in the prosecution of trafficking offenders.


 

What can YOU Do?

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To stay informed on O.U.R. updates, text “UPDATES” to 51555.

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A Thank You from O.U.R. Aftercare

A Thank You from O.U.R. Aftercare

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Loving is easier than it seems. With a little bit of intentionality and partnership YOU can impact the lives of others!

If I were to ask you, “Can you tell me about a memory you have where you felt so much love from another person? Now, can you tell me about a time when you gave love to another?” As we give and receive love we are all encouraged!

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O.U.R. is so grateful for the many volunteers that came out in the middle of a snowstorm for our volunteer event in January to prepare gifts for some of the beautiful survivors here in Salt Lake City! There are many other things that you can do on a snowy Saturday.

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Thanks to doTERRA, many different churches and the nearly 300 incredible volunteers, we were able to hand out 93 bags of hope, blankets and Valentine’s Day cards this past weekend to the incredible women in our own city that have been through so much. Many of the women came up to us with tears in their eyes said, “This has truly been a magical night. Thank you for making us feel valuable and beautiful!” We encourage you today to speak love to your family, a window, a orphan, or a stranger.

You have the gift of change in this world!

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Love Always!

Jessica Mass
O.U.R. Aftercare

OUR Letters of Love

OUR Letters of Love

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February is full of spreading love, and we have a special opportunity for you this month to help our survivors feel loved in a personal way, with your own words! O.U.R. Aftercare will be collecting cards this month to have on hand for future visits at our partnering facilities. Think of how special each child will feel when they open the card that you sent!

STEP 1: WRITE THE LOVE

Everybody loves getting something in the mail, whether it is a homemade or a simple card showing someone was thinking about you. Get your family together for a craft night, or stop by the dollar store and buy a handful of cards to write in.

Here are some examples:
you are lovedSome phrases: “You are Loved” “Have a Great Day!” “You are Beautiful”

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paper hearts

An envelope filled with positive phrases written on each heart

Please, do not include your full name, address, or any other personal information on the card. Do not call attention to their traumatic experience, but keep it sweet and positive. This is not an invitation to become pen pals, thank you!

STEP 2: POST THE LOVE

Take a photo of yourself with your card (or just your card) and post it to social media using #OURLettersofLove.

We will re-post our favorites!

STEP 3: SEND THE LOVE

Email us a scanned image of your card to info@ourrescue.org  or mail them to 138 E. 12300 S. Suite C-149 Draper, UT 84020

We thank you for taking part in #OURLettersofLove – we cannot do this alone!

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Aftercare: The Light of One Survivor

Aftercare: The Light of One Survivor

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

She is smart, beautiful and full of light! Yes, she is a survivor and she is also thriving! When O.U.R. rescued her a little over two years ago she was not sure what she wanted to do with her future. It has been a privilege to walk alongside her and see her hopes and dreams develop. She is very excited about pursuing her education and in a couple years going on to college.

She’s also a leader at the aftercare home. Her soft but strong voice gives hope to all those around her. She speaks life into younger survivors. She believes that her voice as a teenager is powerful- and it is. Her smile is so bright. I often see joy radiating from so many survivors from around the world. One of my favorite questions to ask when I see this light is, “What brings you the most joy?” She responded with, “What brings me the most joy is seeing others happy. I love serving those around me, and I am so grateful for the life God has given me.” These are very powerful words from a teenager as she radiates the belief of hope, a bright future and loving all those around her. She told me that she loves those around her because so many people have loved her over the last two years.

I watched her graciously hand out candy and toys to all those around her. Finally after everyone else had received a gift I asked her if she had gotten anything yet. It was as if it hadn’t even crossed her mind to get something for herself. Did we still have gifts for her? Yes, absolutely. However, what she was most excited about is the different vocational training programs we are helping to provide which will have an impact on all of the children. Some of these trainings are things such as musical lessons, teaching english, and training them how to make marketable items when they transition to independent living.

Aftercare is a journey and Operation Underground Railroad is so honored to provide long-term aftercare love and support to survivors. We believe in the power of healing and the journey. We are all in this life together. May we all live this week in the same light as our beautiful survivor has modeled for us. It is anti-human trafficking awareness month. Survivors, we stand with you, we believe in you, you are the light of one.

Sincerely,

Jessica Mass
O.U.R. Aftercare Director

 

Operation Aftercare

Operation Aftercare

We are so grateful for those of you that continue to help with getting practical items to our beloved children in aftercare homes around the world! Maybe you can recall your favorite bedtime story as a child? These are simple items we sometimes forget how much they mean to us and others. Last week we were able to bring items to two of our homes we partner with. Whether it’s a warm towel to rap up in or reading a bedtime story to our children, these things bring so much COMFORT in life.

Thank you to our faithful aftercare supporters!

#CollaborationLove

There is HOPE

There is HOPE

We are so grateful to our partners at doTERRA! Many have asked where the HOPE bottles are going. We are excited to announce that last weekend 200 HOPE bottles went to a local community in Utah. You are often here our founder, Tim Ballard, say, “Everyone can do something”. This could not be more true. The below passage is from O.U.R. Director of Aftercare, Jessica Mass:

I was so encouraged this morning with the group of people from our community that came together because of HOPE. One woman shared about a time several years ago when she only had $36 in her pocket and wanted to love those in need overseas, but due to her current financial situation was not sure how to do so. So with a few loaves of bread, peanut butter and jelly she started to build relationships with those who were hungry in her local community. Another woman shared about her own history of being sexually exploited and about her passion to serve those in her local community who might be in the same situation. Another woman and her two teenage sons served side-by-side, putting together small gifts of HOPE. Her sons who were 12 and 15 years old, are being raised with the knowledge of how to respect and value girls. We can raise a generation of girls and boys that know how to value and truly love one another.

THIS IS PREVENTION.

So whether it is overseas or your neighbor, you can live a life of great significance. Many years ago a friend said to me, “The point to life is to love. Our job is to ascribe unsurpassable value and worth to everyone we come in contact with.” We can all make this one of our primary philosophies in how we live our own lives. This transforms our life so that we will look for the 12-year-old girl who is at risk for sexual exploitation. We will care about our neighbor who may live in poverty and be desperate to somehow provide for her children or the child who is fatherless will no longer be fatherless, because we gather around them as a community to support them in their hopes and dreams.

Prevention and awareness of human trafficking starts with love. Ascribing unsurpassable value and worth to those at home and abroad really only takes living a life of intentionality. To each and every one of you, thank you for your love and care for others and your support for future children rescued through O.U.R.

The storm came, but the wall stood strong

The storm came, but the wall stood strong

As many of you know, Haiti will always have a piece of our heart. It has been an honor to serve alongside their government, law enforcement and aftercare centers over the past 3 years. As Hurricane Matthew ripped through the island and left so much devastation, the O.U.R. team felt peace in the midst of the chaos.

O.U.R.’s director of Aftercare spoke with some of the Aftercare leaders in Haiti as they received word that the storm was going to hit Haiti the following day. One amazing and strong woman working with the children said, “It’s not that we don’t fear what could happen. It’s that WE CARE MORE THAN WE FEAR. We believe in caring for these children in the good times and in the midst of the storms. We will stand by them because that’s what family does.”

We are happy to report that even though there was flooding in the soccer field and some of the areas inside, ALL OF THE CHILDREN ARE SAFE! We are so grateful for all your thoughts and prayers for our beloved family in Haiti. We will assist as needed in the days to come.

Thank you for supporting O.U.R. so that we can support our children through their on-going healing!

Stay Current With O.U.R. – Rescue Report

Stay Current With O.U.R. – Rescue Report

Live every Wednesday at 3:30 pm MDT on Facebook, Operation Underground Railroad’s Founder and CEO Tim Ballard will be presenting a special message to O.U.R. supporters around the world. The live event will also include operation updates, special stories from the field, aftercare efforts and much more.

The Rescue Report first launched just a few weeks ago with Ballard talking directly to parents and providing them with four ways to protect their children from sex predators. If you missed it, you can still catch a recording of it by going to Operation Underground Railroad’s Facebook page HERE. Ballard followed up the next day with answers to questions people wrote in during the live event. In addition to answering questions, Ballard shared ways in which he is able to get out of the dark place that he works in and fill his life with light.

O.U.R. is developing a number of ways to get its message out. The Rescue Report on Facebook Live is just one of many features. The ultimate goal is to involve everyone, as awareness generates interest, and interest results in new Abolitionist ($5/mo recurring donors) that make it possible to rescue and help more victims of sex trafficking.

The first Rescue Report generated over 40,000 viewers, which is huge, but it could be a lot more. With over 700 million subscribers to Facebook, O.U.R. is hoping to reach at least one million in the near future. Abolitionists can help O.U.R. by liking and sharing the Rescue Report on their personal Facebook pages, as well as other O.U.R. content.

Ballard says, “Good people don’t know about this plague because they aren’t searching for these kinds of things. It’s hard to get good people to fight a fight they don’t know about. We need to help people know about it.”

One way you can help is to like and share this message with as many people as possible. Awareness is the first key in stopping sex trafficking. Help people be aware; like and share!

Operation Underground Railroad’s Aftercare Program: Unity and Collaboration

Operation Underground Railroad’s Aftercare Program: Unity and Collaboration

In a world of division Operation Underground Railroad longs for collaboration to serve those in need of safe and loving homes. At this time O.U.R. finds it most effective to partner with well-established existing facilities who understand the culture and the community best, according to O.U.R.’s Director of Aftercare, Jessica Mass.

Operation Underground Railroad has now partnered with homes in over 15 countries and that number continues to grow as Mass reaches out to potential partners that share the same vision and passion about empowering survivors of trafficking.

“One of the major factors I am looking for when vetting an aftercare home is the long-term vision of what it means to provide care,” says Mass. “This factor is vital because some facilities might have all the standard areas of care, but we have to find partners with the mindset, ‘Once you’re here, you’re family for life.’” Additional areas of importance when vetting aftercare partners are: holistic services, mental, physical, educational, medical, and vocational training, as well as transparency.

There is one particular aftercare facility O.U.R. has been developing a relationship with in Africa for nearly a year. Providing resources and expertise has been a top priority. O.U.R. has also brought in professionals to train workers, and assisted with many other additional needs. This collaboration has laid the foundation for a mutual feeling of trust and unity.

Community Collaboration:
This past month Operation Underground Railroad chose this aftercare home for its first official humanitarian trip. Vetted professionals assisted in providing skills and training in their particular area of expertise.

These humanitarian trips are also supported through those who want to help survivors but aren’t sure what they can do. As a result, O.U.R. has created Suitcases with a Mission that donors can assemble with family, friends, neighbors, church groups, etc.

There are several different themed suitcases that aftercare centers are able to use. Examples of the themed suitcases are: Sport Suitcases, Craft Suitcases, Kitchen Suitcases, Health and Beauty suitcases. O.U.R. provides a list of items that go into the suitcase. Donors provide the suitcase, which can either be used or new, however, all items put inside the suitcase need to be new. Once the suitcase is filled and ready to go, it will be taken by the O.U.R. Aftercare group on their next humanitarian trip.

On this particular humanitarian trip to Africa, Mass and her team took a few different Suitcases with a Mission; a Health and Beauty Suitcase and a Craft Suitcase to the aftercare home. These were filled with beauty supplies, hygiene kits, books, and journals. “The girls absolutely loved the journals,” says Mass. One girl, in particular, was overjoyed. “She started jumping up and down, running through the house with excitement; she was thrilled.” Mass says this girl enjoys writing and hopes to become an author one day. Writing can also be a very therapeutic part of the emotional healing processing.

The children in this aftercare home range in age from 12-18. Through the love and healing they experience here, they are empowered to continue their education. Eventually they will find a career they enjoy with the various skill-sets they have learned because of the aftercare help they have received. This often happens through the loving care of the staff that have the mentality of a family unit.

One survivor, now in her early 20s, has returned to help these younger girls who are going through the healing process- the same process that she once went through after being a victim of sex trafficking. She is studying to become a social worker and is giving back to those who helped her find a new life. This survivor told us that she has a strong belief that families come in all different ways. To those that were family to her, she now assists by being family to others.

This young woman represents the hope O.U.R. has for all those who are rescued; to become empowered to find their own purpose in life and help others along the journey. It can be a long and difficult road, but it is possible with the help of O.U.R. and its aftercare partners, who are full of heart.

We appreciate the efforts of all those involved in the healing process for victims around the world. There are so many wonderful aftercare facilities and individuals that provide critical support to the healing journey for these girls.

If you or your group is looking for a humanitarian service project in conjunction with the Aftercare program, please consider contacting O.U.R.’s Volunteer Coordinator, Jani Dix at Jani@ourrescue.org.

There is something EACH of us can do to make a difference through unity and collaboration. Thank you for being a part of the O.U.R. family!

O.U.R. 2016 Mid-Year Review: An Intimate Talk With Tim Ballard

O.U.R. 2016 Mid-Year Review: An Intimate Talk With Tim Ballard

The following are excerpts from a filmed interview with Tim Ballard on the progress Operation Underground Railroad has made in the first half of 2016.

Tim Ballard:

We have made huge strides this year. The thing I’m most impressed with is that half way through the year we’ve already seen as many or more rescues and arrests as we did last year. We’re probably close to double in terms of the countries we’re working in and the partners that we have.

We have been highly requested here in the States to work in several jurisdictions. We’ve met with several law enforcement officials in various states and set a goal that we would see at least one hundred pedophiles arrested in one year’s time. And just a couple of weeks ago, in the middle of summer we hit that goal. We surpassed it in fact, with over a hundred pedophiles.

These are people that were seeking for children on line as young as nine years old. And we were able to provide the tools to pull these guys out, and inevitably be able to find the children who were actually being abused. So we’re very proud of that accomplishment.

CET-COE:

One of the great accomplishments this year was the announcement of our CET-COE, Child Exploitation Targeting Center of Excellence which is housed at the University of North Carolina, in Charlotte.

We’re actually set up right now to be doing the very unique and different types of operations that we haven’t see a whole lot of yet, using a lot of high-tech strategies to go in and find children who need rescuing and get these horrible, perverted people off the streets.

Technology:

The technology we’re developing is for everybody. In fact, sometimes it’s geared towards law enforcement overseas who just have such limited resources and they don’t have a lot of man power so we can make up for that through tools that allow one cop to do the work of five. And it doesn’t cost them anything.

One reason that we created Operation Underground Railroad is because we saw this need. These law enforcement officers with great hearts, with a desire to help and make their country better, but they had no resources.

O.U.R. Short Term Goals:

We have quite a few operations set for the rest of the year. We’ve already hit our goals, so we’re going to keep pushing, and may exceed expectations. There are multiple countries who have asked us to come in. We’ve already started setting up shop there so we’ll be seeing more operations from now to the end of the year in various places throughout the world.

We’re not meeting our demands though. It’s very difficult for us to sit back and say, ‘Where do we go?’ because we could go almost anywhere now. This is why we need to grow financially. We need more people to become abolitionists because we are not even meeting the demands of law enforcement around the world who need these tools; who need our support.

O.U.R Long Term Goals:

We’ve always talked about setting up offices overseas and we’re starting to do that. These offices are like targeting centers; they’re labs. We are focused on the high technology side to attack this problem. And you’re going to see a lot of more permanent offices in the next several years, offices in various countries that are sponsored in part or fully by Operation Underground Railroad. These offices will be high tech in nature, in terms of the tools that we’re offering, and integrating because with these tools, one police officer can do the work of five officers.

We need to be a force multiplier in this problem. There are way too many kids out there relative to how many police there are looking for them. We built our tools with that in mind. ‘How can we maximize whatever resources are already out there? How can we maximize that?’ Become a force multiplier because with five times the cop power, we rescue five times the kids.

Partnerships:

Our partnerships are mostly focused on the rehabilitation end of things. It’s so important; in fact, it’s the most important thing that we do. We have to have in place something for the rescued children because so often the parents are not suitable or there are no parents or they are part of the problem.

We’ve really recognized that we need to put more into the rehab side and that’s a really delicate thing. We go into these countries that are very developing and we don’t always find the rehab partners that we want, so we have to spend a lot of time building them up.

One country that we are in right now, took us a year to get operational, even though the law enforcement officers in that country were green-lighting the operations. Now, we’re about to do our fourth operation in that particular country because that part (aftercare) is in place.

We hired a new director of rehab, Jessica Mass, who just does an amazing job. She’s partnered with rehab places, facilities, shelters, here in every state in the United States and in every country that we’ve been in, over 15 countries. She has gone and spent a tremendous amount of time finding our partners who we know, that when we have these children, we’re comfortable placing them there.

It’s so rewarding to watch some of these survivors become thrivers. We go back all the time, multiple times a year. ‘How are they doing? What do they need?’ This one wants to be a chef; this one wants to go to college. We can help with that. And we’re watching these stories unfold now. That’s a new development, an exciting development for us.

In 2016, I’d say one of our biggest highlights is the expansion and growth of our aftercare program and the wonderful partners that we’ve been able to make and trust, and watch the kids go there and know they have a chance.

Recruiting:

First and foremost our jump team members have to be brave. I mean, we’re asking them to do very dangerous things. Go into a foreign county. Go in undercover. Walk into a trafficker’s house who would just as soon kill them if they knew who they were.

We seek out law enforcement officers who have experience in rescuing children in anti-trafficking enforcement. It’s so important that these people have the utmost integrity; that they have good hearts. One thing we do, and frankly it’s on purpose, is when we do these tryouts and the training, we ask them to pay for part of that expense of coming over here. And that’s because we want to see who really cares.

I know that every guy that I recruited, especially in the beginning, had to walk away from pensions. They had to walk away from government security. And the fact that they were willing to do that told me that that’s who I want on my team. If you don’t have the heart for this, you’re not going to last long. It’s great to see these people who are willing to fly themselves here and sacrifice financially just to have the chance to make the team.

The Jump Team:

I think very few people are willing to do what our operators do. I mean you sacrifice your innocence in ways that are so incredibly uncomfortable and painful that it’s very rare to find someone to do this.

These kids are in hell. We’ve seen things that you can’t even imagine happen in hell. And the only way to get to those kids is to go in there. You’ve got to be willing go in there and not flinch while you’re there. Anyone willing to do that is just so amazing to me.

It’s like someone willing to run into a burning building. That’s what these guys do every day. It’s a different kind of burning building but it’s no less precarious, no less dreadful and they do it. And I’m so proud to associate with some of these operators that we have working for us – amazing guys – and girls.

Rescues:

It’s imperative to us that our policies on rescue operations are very clear to our partners and donors. We are not a vigilante group. We work with and under the jurisdiction of law enforcement agencies that officially and formally bring us on board. If that doesn’t happen, we don’t operate. But, once we are official we move forward.

Every operation is so different. Our operators will go, usually pretending to be like the other tourists, looking for illicit contact with kids. And then they infiltrate it, and this is where their expertise comes into play in that region; they’ll go in and know how to talk and what to say; how to dig in.

Other times it’s very specific; as specific as, here is this child who’s missing. We can come in with our technology, teach them. We’ve had cases where we look at facial recognition technology that allows us to go in and identify this child that was taken and maybe being sold in a different continent. So it really does vary.

A lot of what we’re doing now though, is targeting pedophiles and traffickers using tools that allow us to exploit places on the Internet where kids are being sold. The dark net is a place where people work with impunity because they think no one’s watching. We’re trying to build tools to help law enforcement to get to those places quicker and more efficiently and understand that world so they can pull these kids out.

Case Story:

In one case, this individual had this child that was being exploited. It was quite a distance from our office and we were expecting to go do the operation the following week. But our operators who are experts on line, were able to identify that this was a problem that couldn’t even wait three days.

And because we have such awesome donors and awesome supporters, they were made aware of the emergency without giving them details. One of our donors said, ‘You need to get somewhere to save kids? Just get to the airport. My plane will be waiting for you.’

I literally left the my kid’s basketball game that I was coaching with nothing, jumped in my car and sped to the airport, got on that plane and had that guy arrested and those kids saved, and those kids placed in safety within 12 to 15 hours. That was an emotional case just because we knew we had to get there fast. But, this is where we have the kind of comparative advantage where we can just go.

The whole flight over I have her image in my head. Five years old and we were able to get to her and pull her out of that situation and that guy’s in jail right now.

The Danger For Children

It’s usually men, perverted men have access to children in various ways; sometimes their own children or a niece or a nephew. They take advantage of the situation where the parents are out of the picture for some reason and they take this child under their wing, so-to-speak, but really they’re grooming them and exploiting them.

They go on line and start selling, sometimes they want to exchange this child for someone else’s child and they want to set up these horrific dark escapades. All I can say is that we have the tools and the ability to have law enforcement intervene in those deals. To find out where they’re happening and when they’re happening, intervene, intercept the deal, and then infiltrate and dismantle.

Eradicating Child Sex Trafficking:

That’s still the goal. We know that it can work. It works on a small scale. We go into one city, do several operations, and we shut it down. At the end of our operations, we can’t find anyone who’s willing to sell kids, all of them citing the previous operations that we previously conducted.

If it works on a small scale, why can’t it work on a large sale? We just need more people, more organizations, and more governments on board. If we made the response to selling kids for sex so powerful, you could literally scare people from thinking about doing it. That’s our goal.

I do believe that we can eradicate this. It’s going to take a long time, but with enough support and enough growth, we are building the tools that can eradicate this.

What You Can Do:

We need your help to make a difference. If you haven’t donated to our cause, please visit our web site at OURrescue.org and start today. Every dollar helps rescue children and ensures they receive the recovery care they need. If you already donate, please take the opportunity to evaluate if you can give more. We’ve already completed more rescues to date in 2016 than we did in all of 2015. We need your support to continue at this pace and fund additional rescue operations. We can’t do it without you. Thank you!

Interviewed and Edited by: Cheryl L. Karr