Many of you know the story of Gardy. He is the precious little boy O.U.R. continues to search for after he was kidnapped from church and then trafficked.
During our search for Gardy so many other children have been rescued. It is Gardy’s dad that talks about the strength that he has found due to the many other children that have been set free due to his son. I can not even begin to fathom the heart of one who goes through the pain of losing their own son and can still rejoice over the others that have been found.
In another country not too far away from the one we continue to look for Gardy, there is a beautiful young girl who is 13 years old; we will call her Sara. Sara is a girl we have worked with for a little over a year now. We first met her in an area that O.U.R. started to do prevention after identifying it as a high risk area for trafficking. One of the primary ways we do prevention in this area is by providing opportunities for education through supporting children to go to school and providing a teacher in the community two days a week. Sadly, a couple of months ago we received word that Sara had gone missing. There are rumors in the community that she has been trafficked and the trafficker had intentionally got her pregnant in order to put fear and shame in her to not go back to her village.
Our operations team has notified the human trafficking division in this country and they are actively searching for Sara. We do everything we can to fight for children to live in freedom and this 13-year-old is very close to our heart. During our recent aftercare mission we followed up with local law enforcement, but they still have not yet located her. They asked that if we find any additional information to notify them immediately. Our aftercare team has done in-home visits to her mother’s home and her father who lives about 30 minutes away from her mom. Neither of them had any additional information for us to provide for the law enforcement.
However, due to O.U.R.’s educational support we do know where Sara goes to school. Last week three members of the aftercare team went to Sara’s school. With the leadership of the school, we went classroom to classroom searching for Sara. It’s often said it’s like searching for a needle in a haystack once a child goes missing, but we can never let statistics stop us. Sara has come within the path of O.U.R. and we truly believe that once someone has come into our path they are family. We will search as if they were our child, sister, daughter, or friend.
The school reported they have not seen her in two weeks, but they thought it was just because of the severe rain in the area where she lives. Sadly, we have not been able to find her yet. However, we were able to talk to several of the staff about trafficking and the extreme vulnerability that many of the children in this area face. They were unaware of the high risk areas where some of the children come from and the signs to look for in case a child is being trafficked. The school is now putting extra measures in place to help keep their children safe, and they were able to open an additional case with child protective services for Sara. Not every story is perfect, and the fight against trafficking is not an easy battle. However, during this time that we are still looking for Sara, she has already had an impact on other children’s lives.
We love Sara, we know her well, and we ask that you would keep her in your hearts during this new year. Thank you for helping us continue to search for Sara and bring her to a safe aftercare home. Thank you for all you do to support girls and boys like Sara through rescues and aftercare. Many blessings to you and your family as you stand with us.
Director of Aftercare