A little girl named “Maria” was living in a hotel room entrapped in the dark cycle of child sexual exploitation. Her offender would force her to drink alcohol as a part of a "grooming process," making Maria more vulnerable to sexual exploitation. While living in the hotel, she was deprived of sleep and basic needs. Young Maria was experiencing a reality that no child should ever have to undergo.
One day, an outreach worker was in the area doing an undercover investigation in the entertainment sector. The worker saw Maria drinking alcohol in one of the hotel rooms and immediately contacted the local authorities to get her to safety.
The authorities were able to locate Maria and set up an operation to get her out. When law enforcement successfully rescued her, she had no recollection of where she was from or even her mother’s name.
When Maria arrived at the shelter home in South Asia, she was immediately flooded with support from all directions. She received food, shelter, clothing, and medical support, including psychosocial counseling.
It took her awhile to integrate into this loving environment after being in darkness for so long. Maria would frequently ask for alcohol, and the Aftercare staff would continue to show Maria that the harsh reality she used to live in, was no longer controlling her.
She’s now taking non-formal education classes so she can be placed into a school when enrollment opens. The aftercare team has reported that she is doing incredible, and is filling her time with recreational activities and educational learning.
One day, Maria was drawing a picture when the staff approached her to ask what she was drawing.
Maria looked up at their faces, “I was very sad when I was in the hotel, and I used to cry a lot, but after coming to this home I got love and care, so I become like flower, happy Happy.”
The staff's eyes welled with tears at Maria’s comment. It’s moments like this one that show the true impact of a rescue operation and the additional nurturement that comes from aftercare.
Unfortunately, Maria’s case is far too common. Small children are forced to drink alcoholic substances to make them more susceptible to cycles of exploitation and trafficking. However, O.U.R. will continue to fight against human trafficking and sexual exploitation until no child is left in those circumstances.
O.U.R. is grateful to witness Maria’s progress in the aftercare home in South Asia and we hope her road to recovery is filled with healing and love. Thank you to all who were involved in rescuing young Maria from human trafficking.