In May for #GivingTuesdayNow, we asked for your support when the pandemic caused unexpected situations for our survivors, operators, and aftercare partners. We are excited to report the great impact you made on survivors here in the U.S. and around the world. With you, we were able to GIVE JOY, PROTECTION, HEALTH, STABILITY, and FOOD.
“Cassandra”, mother of two, was rescued from human trafficking through O.U.R. efforts early last year. She lives in a remote village in West Africa and was contacted by traffickers posing as an employment agency. Cassandra was desperate for money and needed a way to provide for her kids, so she took the offer to travel to the Mediterranean for a temporary job. She had no idea her employers were actually traffickers who would immediately take her passport and force her to sell herself for sex and grueling labor.
O.U.R. was able to help Cassandra escape her situation, return home to her children, and receive aftercare services.
When COVID-19 restrictions started shutting down her village, panic began to set in. Cassandra lived in a village several hours away from the capital city. Everything was locked down, and the curfew prevented her from traveling to the city to get food and water. Even when she tried traveling to another village nearby, the food and water prices had tripled due to high demand and low supply.
In addition to taking care of her own two children, Cassandra also took care of her sister’s two children. The kids became so desperate for water that they began drinking the contaminated local water, making them sick.
A few days into this crisis, she received a message from a trafficker in Egypt offering her a similar “job” to the one she previously was rescued from. “I can’t watch my children starve to death,” Cassandra cried out in pain. She was so unsure what to do. She couldn’t bear the thought of returning to that life, but she also had no means of providing for the four children in her care.
“What do I do?” Cassandra typed in a text message to O.U.R. Aftercare Director Jessica Mass. Cassandra and Jessica had formed a sweet bond during Cassandra’s initial rescue, and she felt comfortable talking to her about the situation.
Thanks to your donations to the GIVE FOOD fund for #GivingTuesdayNow, O.U.R. was able to provide Cassandra and her family money to afford food and clean water. We are also helping her start her own garden so that she can sustainably grow food for her family. O.U.R. Aftercare is committed to standing with survivors long-term. We are so grateful that Cassandra reached out to us with her needs, and that our donors were able to provide support for her in this time of crisis.
In the wake of the pandemic, several survivors in our partnering aftercare home in Central America tested positive for COVID-19. The majority of the staff members also contracted the virus, including their nurse. You may remember the story of “Gabriella”, who was trafficked and exploited by her family members for years before she was rescued as a teenager. She was among the survivors who tested positive.
The outbreak of COVID-19 in this home presented many issues. They needed to prevent the healthy survivors from getting the virus, keep on lockdown, and continue to provide for the needs of everyone in the home.
Thanks to your donations to the GIVE HEALTH fund on #GivingTuesdayNow, O.U.R. was able to act quickly and help this aftercare home. There were 5 main ways you impacted the lives of these survivors in aftercare. You helped provide:
- An extra rented space to protect the unaffected survivors from the virus.
- Another social worker to support the girls’ mental health.
- A temporary cook to help provide meals.
- Another nurse to help treat the affected survivors’ symptoms.
- A cleaning crew and extra supplies to keep the aftercare home as clean as possible.
We are incredibly grateful for your generosity that allowed us to act quickly to help this home heal.
“Kira” was rescued from human trafficking in the Mediterranean and was so grateful to be reunited with her daughter and brother in West Africa. As she began her journey to healing, she lived with her brother for support. Kira’s brother had a stable university job.
The lockdown due to COVID-19 was devastating for Kira and her family. Her brother temporarily lost his job and they had no accessible way to make an income. They became months behind on rent and their landlord gave them 6 days to move out. They were terrified of living homeless on the streets. They would have to sleep on the ground with their children in a nearby village, where there were dangerous animals that roamed the streets at night.
Kira reached out to O.U.R. Aftercare Director Jessica Mass to ask for help. Because of your donations to the Giving Tuesday Now GIVE STABILITY fund, we were able to respond to Kira right away and offer two months of rent.
When Kira offered this to her landlord, he declined the offer, said it was not enough, and asked them to leave immediately. This led Kira and her brother to look for a new home, and they needed to move in the same day. This was nearly impossible in her country, as contracts usually took weeks to work out.
Within a few hours, O.U.R. received word that they had successfully found a safe place to live! It was a miracle and Kira and her family were so excited. Thanks to your generosity, the money for two months of rent will sustain them until her brother starts working again.
Many of you may have fond memories of going to a summer camp growing up and the joyful memories it can bring. As things are opening up again after COVID-19 lockdowns, O.U.R. was able to fund a summer camp for 11 boys in Southeast Asia as part of their long-term aftercare.
These 11 boys were sexually exploited in Southeast Asia when they were very young. After they were rescued, they lived in our partnering aftercare home while they worked to heal from their trauma. These boys graduated from the aftercare home and are now living in their own homes and reintegrating back into normal life. The journey to healing looks different for everyone, and O.U.R. is committed to long-term support for our survivors.
This two-day camp included counseling services, therapeutic mindfulness, and good old-fashioned fun with games, food, late nights talking about dreams and aspirations. This was a great opportunity for the boys to reconnect and motivate each other.
Thanks to your donations to the Giving Tuesday Now GIVE JOY fund, we were able to support meals, accommodations, and activities for this camp.
Thanks to your generous donations to the #GivingTuesdayNow GIVE PROTECTION fund, the O.U.R. Ops Team was able to provide crucial protective services to safeguard children around the world.
Internationally, the O.U.R. Ops Team provided computer forensic equipment and special software to law enforcement partners whose analysis of digital evidence resulted in the disruption and dismantling of a child trafficking organization. In the search of a single storage device, approximately 200,000 files of child sexual exploitation photos and videos were found. In addition to the arrests of multiple traffickers, the technology provided is currently being used to identify victims so O.U.R. can help with aftercare services.
We also provided various other services such as:
– Special technologies for a series of operations in Southeast Asia. The joint operation resulted in the rescue of 37 victims and the arrest of 26 traffickers.
– Child Forensic Interview Techniques
– A training for Ukraine officers about online child exploitation investigations
– A drone to aid in operations
In the U.S., the O.U.R. Ops Team trained 94 U.S. law enforcement officers and other child saving professionals on Windows Forensics Deep Dive and Dark Web investigations. In addition, we provided technology to a forensic computer lab that aided law enforcement in conducting numerous digital forensic exams in child exploitation cases. A total of 2,806 GB of data was examined yielding critical evidence and child victims.
Thank you on behalf of the entire O.U.R. Ops Team for your support in moving these cases along and bringing child predators to justice. We are committed to protecting innocent children from being abused and exploited.