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Operation Opened Door

Operation Opened Door

5 Rescued 7 Arrested

Operation Underground Railroad and Indian Rescue Mission (IRM) have successfully collaborated on a rescue operation in Manpada, Thane District, Mahrashtra State of India (suburb of Mumbai). Operators received intel about a hotel where girls were being trafficked and forced into prostitution. The team posted as buyers and verified the intelligence collected. Future information was gathered that these girls were in restricted movement and not allowed to leave the location in which they were being held. This information was passed to the senior police office of Manpada Police station and teams were immediately called to conduct the raid. During the raid it was discovered that the girls were being held in a basement or underground like dungeon without light, toilet facilities or access to the outside world. The price for each girl was Rs.2000 (or $23 US dollars) for 1 hour of sex. Once the girls were rescued they were immediately taken to the hospital for examination. Post examination the girls will be taken to a government shelter determined by the local court. The 7 traffickers have been taken into custody and charged with the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act 3,4, and 5. O.U.R. is so grateful to IRM and all those involved in this successful operation. The real healing begins now and with that comes a new hope for these 5 survivors

Saving Souls With Suds

Saving Souls With Suds

 

By Lorayne Mitchelle –

Silicone molds, essential oils, oxide colorants, micas and pigments lurk in every spare corner of the room. Transfer pipettes, digital thermometers, clays, and seeds befriend them.

Other companions include a heat gun, crinkle cutter, loaf cutter, and beveller.  The list concludes with 20-pound blocks of soap base in three classifications: goat’s milk, clear glycerin and ultra clear.

The question is… what storm blew through this home? How and why is it being transformed from something ordinary and orderly into a business born from passion and focus based on the saving operations of Operation Underground Railroad?

The mother of this industrious family, Tracey Carsner, explains how it all began…

I always thought soap making would be fun to try.  I knew nothing about it other than what I’d seen at boutiques and farmers’ markets.  I bought a beginner kit at a craft store and read the directions repeatedly before starting.  Well, my soaps turned out pretty ugly, but I was patient and kept practicing.  Then my mom sent me a sample of a watermelon-inspired soap.  I was determined to branch out from the kit directions and do my own thing.  It turned out fabulous and I was hooked!

Days and weeks after reading many blogs and pinning hundreds of pictures, my collection grew.  I began giving my creations as gifts.  Along with the stunned realization that I made something that was cool, my friends encouraged me to make them available for purchase.  Having been in business before, I knew what an undertaking that path could be.  I shied away from the idea, just enjoying the compliments and the process of designing the next soap.

At this point, Tracey’s two teenage boys, Gabe and Adam, jumped into this project.

Tracey Carsner with sons Gabe and Adam
Tracey Carsner with sons Gabe and Adam

The boys were giving me design advice and mentioning to their friends that I was making these cool soaps. They even showed the products off to their friends when they came over. Gabe and Adam used the bars and gave feedback on fragrance blends and lather consistency. It has been pretty hilarious to see that they have opinions on something that I would normally consider amore feminine interest. I’m especially grateful for their input on the masculine bars I make. I know what women like for men, but it’s not always what men would choose for themselves.

With these two talented cheerleaders in her corner, Tracey thought bringing these products to market might be a little easier.  But it still wasn’t enough to push her into the business venture.  What tipped the scales was deciding to benefit Operation Underground Railroad.

Tracey explains, “I love this organization and all it stands for. O.U.R. Founder Tim Ballard and his helpers and volunteers are performing an act that the mainstream population cannot carry out.  Most of us can only contribute with finances or volunteer our time.  This venture allows our family to do both!”

Saving Soap is now an official creative soap shop, donating 40% of their profits directly to Operation Underground Railroad. They especially hope fans will “like” and “share” Saving Soap’s social media sites so that they can continue to stay busy manufacturing unusual products and contributing profits to O.U.R.

Tracey is direct about her supporting staff when she states, “Without Gabe and Adam, I would definitely not be doing this.  I design and make the soap, handle purchasing, and the business office.”

saving-soap-yellow

Photography and graphic design responsibilities fall to 17-year-old Gabe. “My passion for photography and design are now combined with supporting the cause of O.U.R. Anything I can do to help them succeed with their goals makes me feel like I can make a difference. Sex trafficking is an unspeakable evil. I’m also learning the complexities of business processes and all the individual details it involves.” Gabe adds, “Buying our soap is a win-win situation. We provide beautiful, unique gift products and contribute 40% to O.U.R. for their rescue missions.”

Fifteen-year-old Adam is the social media manager, fragrance/design consultant, and order fulfillment director. He admits, “My favorite part of the business is being creative and developing new products. There is a never-ending assortment of molds and scents to experiment with. I also love knowing I’m helping such a worthwhile cause.”

Saving Soap has definitely mushroomed into a family affair. They are focused on creating beautiful soaps and rescuing children. What could be better?

We invite you to visit them at:

www.etsy.com/shop/SavingSoap

www.facebook.com/savingsoap

 

 

Netpure: Keeping The Internet Safe One Family At A time

Netpure: Keeping The Internet Safe One Family At A time

Donors come in all shapes and sizes from individuals, to small family companies, to major corporations. One newcomer to the Operation Underground Railroad donor family is “Netpure,” a company that has created a home protection device for families. Specifically, Netpure is a child-safe internet router with parental controls, time management and alerts.

As a parent, you take control of the internet for your children with Netpure. You can schedule when it is available to them as well as what content they can see. It is a child-safe WiFi network in your home for your children, while the parent WiFi remains the same. It’s a win/win situation and several of O.U.R.’s employees, including O.U.R.’s founder and CEO, Tim Ballard, are using it in their homes now.

Netpure-Router
Netpure-Router

This is a great way to protect your children from the darker side while giving them the freedom to search the Internet for homework or even fun and games. But Netpure is doing much more than just protecting children from certain elements of the Internet. They are donating to Operation Underground Railroad as well, thus helping to rescue children as well as protect them. That only happens if you help though.

Nepture has provided a special code for our O.U.R. supporters. Right now, if you order the Netpure router using the code: OURGIVER, you will receive $5 off the router and Netpure will donate $20 to O.U.R. Another win/win! How great is that?

The makers of Netpure have been developing security Internet systems for the FBI, the Pentagon and the Navy SEALS over the last 20 years. Now they’ve put that knowledge and experience to work to protect families, so you know it will be effective.

You can read more about Netpure in this review from Gadgeflow: http://thegadgetflow.com/portfolio/netpure-child-safe-internet/

You can also visit their website” http://netpure.com to learn more about how Netpure works.

O.U.R. is truly grateful for every donation. Seeing companies such as Netpure help families as well as rescue children, makes the world a better place for all of us.

Netpure Facebook page

Tony Robbins Teams Up With O.U.R. To Fight The Good Fight

Tony Robbins Teams Up With O.U.R. To Fight The Good Fight

Operation Underground Railroad is extremely grateful to Tony Robbins and his foundation, as well as all those who are supporting the cause to rescue those enslaved by human trafficking.

From Tony Robbins’ Facebook Page:

tony-robbins-fb-2

To view Tony Robbins’ actual Facebook page click here and search Operation Underground Railroad. The following are live links from the Facebook page: HSN, Feeding America, Operation Underground Railroad

We are looking forward to collaborating on future projects with Tony Robbins and his foundation. Together we can all make a difference and save these children. Please help us continue the fight. Thank you!

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

O.U.R. attends FBI Training in Thailand

O.U.R. attends FBI Training in Thailand

Last month in Thailand, O.U.R. was invited by the FBI to participate in their Responding to Victims of Human Trafficking training, put on by the FBI’s Office of Victims Assistance. The goal of this training is to set a standard across the board in which governments, local police, NGOs and social workers can operate on victim centered investigations and victim identification. But what does this mean? In almost every case of the trafficking of minors, the underage victims are coached by their captors to lie about their age, the fact that they are being coerced into this work, and to lie about where they come from. They are even given fake Identification documents with different names, ages, and purpose of work. Often, the victims are told that Westerners will sell them for body parts or various other gruesome acts, leaving the victims too scared to ask for help or trust someone offering help. The captors do this because they know that many NGOs such as O.U.R. are looking for the minors in order to set them free. By instilling fear of the very people that want to help, the captor exercises more control and dominance over the victim. For these reasons, a training program aimed to identify a victim is extremely important because in many raids, the information given by the coached victims would lead one to believe that they are there by choice, not that they are in fact scared, hurt, and enslaved. It is crucial to set up a system in which investigators, police, and social workers can use their own training and knowledge to identify a victim, even if it is contrary to what the victim is actually saying. This helps ensure that no slave is left behind or overlooked simply because they were perceived to be there by their own volition.

The FBI training in Thailand focuses on victim recognition by basing investigations around the victims needs. This is done by learning different methods of interviewing in which the interviewer is sensitive to the traumatization of the victim and comes from a place of understanding the circumstances and backgrounds of sexually trafficked minors. Another goal of the FBI training is to work with foreign and local governments to combat trafficking. Rather than have many groups that attempt to combat trafficking on their own, this training is designed to bring local and foreign governments, NGOs, social workers, and police forces together to create a standard under which all parties operate. O.U.R.’s Director of Regional Operations says, “It is important for O.U.R. to be in attendance of these trainings. One, it maintains a healthy relationship between us and the U.S. government, and two, it helps us network and connect with trusted local law enforcement, passionate about the same cause.”

The ultimate goal now for O.U.R. is to continue participating in such trainings with the FBI and to bring this type of collaborative, victim focused training to countries in which O.U.R. is currently operating but does not yet exist.

The problem of human trafficking becomes larger and more widespread by the day and we must come together, strong and unified, to save those in need.

After The Abolitionists Movie Premier

After The Abolitionists Movie Premier

 

Silence is not always golden. In fact, many injustices continue today because those who would fight against them are not aware they even exist. Such is the case with child sex trafficking and slavery – until now.

The feature-length documentary The Abolitionists premiered in theaters nation-wide May 16th, enlightening audiences who previously were blissfully unaware of this dark side of the world.

They now know that child sex slavery is one of the biggest plagues of our day and is growing by the minute. Sweet, innocent children, are kidnapped, sold, or tricked into becoming sex slaves and movie stars of pornographic videos. It is real. It is happening. And it needs to be stopped.

The Abolitionists is the story about a former CIA officer and HSI agent, Tim Ballard, who unwillingly became exposed to this dark side of humanity during his 12 years with the government.

It only took one rescue for Ballard to realize these children needed saving. Since then he has left government service and begun his own non-profit organization, Operation Underground Railroad, to rescue these children.

Movie theaters were sold out across the country for the premier. Some were bought by modern-day abolitionists who are doing what they can to help rescue these children. Other theaters, simply sold individual tickets. The Larry H. Miller Theaters donated all proceeds of the movie to O.U.R. for the rescuing of children – a very generous gift.

Current estimates put viewers at around 35,000 for the May 16th event. Exact figures are still coming in. Reactions have been inspiring. People have been shocked, saddened and amazed at what is happening to children around the world. Here are just a few of the comments from viewers:

“When I saw the movie The Abolitionists, I was heartbroken at just how many innocent children are being forced to be trafficked and forced to be sex slaves.” William Billiam

“Well done. Didn’t like the subject matter, but that’s why it made an impact. God bless this film and the light it is shining on human trafficking.” Helen Matter

“Very inspirational and informative for everyone. We really need to work together to stop human trafficking.” Melissa Peters

“As dark as the subject matter is, I love the hope and light that are fighting the darkness!” Jenn Foote

A movement has begun. Since the premier of the film on May 16th, volunteers are signing up with O.U.R. in record numbers to help rescue these children.

“It has been amazing to see the response of people after they have seen the film. They are motivated and ready to do all they can to put an end to this atrocity,” said O.U.R.’s National Volunteer Coordinator Jani Dix. “People are willing to give their time and talents and truly believe they need to be part of this solution. There is a lot of darkness in this world and you see that in the film, but there is also so much light and the O.U.R. volunteers are a testament of that.”

Since the premier of the film, over 550 volunteers have signed up to help O.U.R. fight this plague, bringing together an army of 1300 worldwide to rescue these children. And there is something everyone can do.

You don’t need to donate money to help, although that is a great way and very much needed. Many volunteers offer their talents to the cause. Some are helping by organizing events, some are writing articles or giving presentations that spread the word. We encourage you to help in whatever way you can, because once you know this is going on, it is very difficult to do nothing.

Helen Keller once said, “I am only one but still I am one. I cannot do everything but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.”

Tim Ballard saw something wrong and is doing what he can to right it. “My goal is to eradicate this heinous crime all around the world. That may take some time, but I believe we can do it.”

What will you do to help? Visit our website at ourrescue.org to discover the many ways you can make a difference.

If you have not been able to see the movie, The Abolitionists yet, you can request it to play at your local theater by inquiring at  http://theabolitionistsmovie.com/contact/.

Planting Seeds of Hope

Planting Seeds of Hope

 

“Lani” looked so young when she was rescued by Operation Underground Railroad that law enforcement was sure she was a minor. Her protests to the contrary were useless. Unless she could provide solid evidence that she was 18 years old, she would need to meet with the social workers at the aftercare shelter.

O.U.R.’s mission is to rescue children who are being trafficked for sex by pimps and pedophiles, and help them in their recovery. Often, in that net, we rescue those who are not considered children. They may be 18 years old or 25 or more. Most likely they were started as child prostitutes by traffickers and now know no other way of life. But, because they are no longer minors, they are free to leave the aftercare that O.U.R.provides all minors following a rescue.

Lani called for someone to bring her ID to prove she was an adult, but while waiting, she learned that she had options. She did not have to live this type of life any more. For three days the social workers helped her to understand that there is loving support for people caught in her situation. Although tempted by the thought of freedom, the strong connection she had to her pimp/boyfriend drew her back to him once her ID arrived and she could prove she was eighteen.

It is heart breaking to see someone who is caught in the jaws of hell, wanting to be free, yet fearing what the unknown offers. In Lani’s case, O.U.R.’s local aftercare partners continued to check on her, letting her know there is still help should she choose it.

Eventually, she and her pimp moved away. Lani soon became pregnant with her pimp’s baby. Fear engulfed her as she realized this baby’s future was in the hands of her pimp. She did not want her baby to live the kind of hell she was living. Yet, she knew there was a high probability that this child would one day become a prostitute if she stayed with this man. What could she do?

Secretly, she slipped away from the village in search of the social worker who had helped her following the O.U.R. rescue. She found her in the city and in desperation asked if the ‘other options’ were still available to her, telling her how she did not want her baby to grow up being trafficked by this man as she had been.

It takes a lot of strength for a young woman to leave a controlling pimp/trafficker and seek help. He had assured her many times, “You will starve in the streets. I will kill you if you leave.” But, leave she did, into the loving arms of O.U.R.’s aftercare partners.

Today, Lani is living with her newborn in freedom at a home for single mothers, receiving vocational training and emotional counseling as she dreams about the future of her life and that of her child.

This is the type of outcome O.U.R. hopes for all the children and adults we rescue. Collaboration with local officials and local aftercare support is pivotal in making this happen and O.U.R. has experts working hard daily to create these partnerships.

Adults are not treated as criminals and are not held against their will, but we do try to plant the seeds of hope and ‘other options’ that are available to them so that when they are ready, as in the case of Lani, they will seek us out.

That time may not be today. It may not be six months from today. But, once they know there is a better way, a safer way, that thought will begin to grow. And that thought may, one day, turn to action. And when that happens, we will be there for them.

We at O.U.R. believe we can make a difference in this most important step. Believe with us and join the O.U.R. team in building hope and freedom from exploitation. There are a number of ways you can do this from becoming a recurring donor (an abolitionist), to volunteering, to creating a fundraising campaign of your own. Visit ourrescue.org on how to get started.

Written by: Cheryl L. Karr

 

 

 

 

 

Becoming A Global Force For Good: The Creation of CET-COE

Becoming A Global Force For Good: The Creation of CET-COE

CET-COE – Becoming A Global Force For Good

Child Exploitation Targeting Center of Excellence

By Caleb Larkin

Operation Underground Railroad is taking a great leap forward in the fight against child sex slavery and expanding its influence and outreach with its first Child Exploitation Targeting Center of Excellence (CET-COE) http://ourrescue.or/technology.

The center opened June 8th in Charlotte, North Carolina as a start to establishing a technological foothold in various parts of the world. This new center shows the progress O.U.R. is making in the fight against sex trafficking.

The main purpose of this and future CET-COE locations is to provide law enforcement with the vital targeting and intelligence analysis capabilities needed to fight the exploitation of children. An added bonus is having central locations where our jump teams can be working with the intelligence and targeting teams along side law enforcement.

O.U.R. partnered with Delitor Inc, and the University of North Carolina to work with the many organizations, government and non-governmental organizations alike (NGOs) to develop new software to identify victims and perpetrators.

O.U.R.’s Law Enforcement Services Director, Dale, referred to the new opening of CET-COE as a successful collaboration. “I was very pleased with the support from the local community and especially our law enforcement partners who were very eager to have more tools at their fingertips in the fight to end child sex slavery.”

The center is an essential step forward for O.U.R.’s goal to establish a real physical presence domestically and abroad. “The purpose of this CET-COE is like a fusion meeting or enforcement center,” Dale explained.

The center in North Carolina and future ones like it are designed to aid law enforcement in bringing about the end of child exploitation in every form by leveraging information from known pedophiles in order to find victims and their perpetrators.

“Everyone felt like focusing these expansions on technology was the best way to have an effect on a global level,” Dale emphasized. As technology advances, O.U.R. understands that everyone and everything uses technology to further their purposes today, including human traffickers. The centers will help O.U.R. stay ahead of criminals by using software to help track and identify trends and threats throughout the world.

“As nice as it would be to have a jump team in every city, it’s just not feasible. But having this technology everywhere is,” Dale said. “Getting the software to identify child traffickers, that is something we can accomplish and are now working towards it.”

O.U.R.’s founder and CEO, Tim Ballard, has always had a vision to have an O.U.R. office in key locations to quicken response times and have closer interactions with in-country law enforcement. “We’re extremely thrilled to be rolling out O.U.R.’s Center of Excellence on the UNC – Charlotte campus,” Ballard said.

“Technology and the internet is what enables so much of the sex trafficking that occurs in the United States and around the world, but with the right tools, we can use our own technology to combat these criminals who prey on our children and the world’s most vulnerable who fall victim to trafficking and pornography.”

The facilities will allow O.U.R. to have our own people at each CET-COE location, instead of having to plan out operations in the U.S. and then transfer people and equipment to the mission location.

“We think of it like this: The U.S. has headquarters in D.C., but we have embassies in other countries. So this is like an O.U.R. embassy where we have headquarters at these different facilities,” Dale said. “We plan to build targeting packages, develop research in select locations and work with local law enforcement in these areas.”

The CET-COE project has met several challenges along the way – the first being funding. “It’s an expensive project, especially to get the talent and experience needed to run these centers,” Dale explained. “We need people who are extremely invested and it’s harder to get people in place with the expertise needed while taking a pay cut.”

Another difficult challenge came in selecting the ideal location for the site. “We have to balance proximity to law enforcement for easier access and keeping the center isolated enough to keep the data protected, “ Dale explained.

Despite these ongoing challenges, Dale sees the establishment of the center as a “huge step toward becoming a global organization and extending O.U.R.’s reach.” He expects the future expansions to be equally significant. “We have been trying to establish ourselves as a global organization. This will actually establish a footprint in multiple countries across the globe,” said Dale.

O.U.R. plans to continue to open these centers to increase their global reach, influence and presence in an abolitionist movement. The next CET-COE facilities are planned to open in late summer and fall of this year.

“We are choosing certain areas and locations to expand to first, but eventually we would like a CET-COE in every part of the world,” Dale said. “This is a huge sign of success for O.U.R. It signifies we are prepared to expand and combat slavery in all corners of the globe.”