We are excited to share with you about the O.U.R. Aftercare program called the Love in Action (L.I.A.) Program. This program is designed to spread O.U.R.’s help and resources throughout the world by sending trained, vetted, O.U.R. volunteers for one year to our partnering aftercare homes. A Love in Action volunteer’s primary purpose is to love and empower survivors on their path of healing and to support staff at the aftercare homes we partner with around the world.
We began piloting the idea of sending trusted O.U.R. volunteers to serve in our partnering Aftercare homes a few years ago. The incredible Johnson family left their home here in the U.S. (read a story from their experience HERE) to live in Central America. They made a significant impact on survivors through vocational training, educational support, advocacy, and even the creation of a library during their one year mission.
Our New Southeast Asia Volunteer
Jacob, one of our newest Love in Action (L.I.A.) volunteers, has generously volunteered to serve in an aftercare home in SE Asia for one year. After volunteering with O.U.R. for many months and working as an Aftercare intern for a year after that, Jacob decided to apply to be a L.I.A. volunteer. Knowing his heart and pure motives to help and serve, he stood out as a great candidate for this opportunity.
Managing Anger Through Taekwondo
The particular Aftercare home that Jacob is serving in houses many young boys recovering from harsh trafficking situations. Many of these survivors struggle with managing their anger because of their trauma history. Jacob has seen a lot of success in teaching them Taekwondo as a healthy way to express their emotions. As a black belt, he is able to use his knowledge to teach these survivors how to work as a team and to encourage each other when they learn new moves. This is the spirit of an L.I.A. volunteer.
One of the young boys has a brain injury that makes it difficult to learn in a classroom setting. He had been struggling with his English classes and had a hard time focusing, which made him feel very behind. When Jacob came and started teaching them martial arts, this young boy began to flourish. He said, “ I love that I get to move around a lot and I feel like I’m good at something I now love.”
Special Teaching Moments
There are many ways this simple Taekwondo class has taught invaluable lessons. One day, one of the boys kicked one of the younger boys making him fall to the ground. Jacob was able to use this situation as an impactful teaching moment. He took the time to sit down with this boy and explained how we can use our strength to protect other people instead of taking hurting them. To a developing boy that has been trafficked and taken advantage of by stronger, older men, this principle is not something he has seen modeled in his life. Jacob gently taught the importance of not hurting people that are smaller than you just because you can. Among the many different things Jacob does, teaching Taekwondo has created many beautiful teaching moments about self control, protection, and effective communication.
We are incredibly grateful for the various ways Jacob has empowered these survivors already. In addition to martial arts, he has taught them English classes, piano lessons, games, dance, and is a victim advocate for survivors when they have to go to court. He is helping create healthy ways to play and socialize together, express emotion, and feel successful. Jacob’s influence will forever impact these survivors’ lives.
The Impact of an LIA Volunteer
Overall, the responsibility of a L.I.A. Volunteer is to empower survivors with life skills that will benefit their growth and recovery. For example, teaching the kids English can open up new job opportunities for them in the future. It also helps them feel successful at learning something new and important.
We are so excited to implement this new Love in Action program. Each L.I.A. volunteer’s experience will look different because every individual has unique talents and gifts that they can share with survivors. The ultimate goal is for each L.I.A. volunteer to model what it looks like to develop these unique talents and gifts, so that survivors feel empowered along their path to healing. Our hope is that O.U.R. can spread more love to survivors across the world through this program.
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