O.U.R Stories
Aftercare, Survivor Stories
SURVIVOR STORY: "ZENA" FINDS HOPE AFTER BEING SOLD TO AMERICAN AND EUROPEAN TOURISTS
3 MIN
Aftercare, Survivor Stories

“Zena” was only a small child when she was molested by a teacher in school and then a church leader in her community in South America.

Later, when approached by sex traffickers offering money, her grandmother threatened to beat Zena and withhold food if she did not comply to sleeping with the European and American tourists the traffickers provided.

Zena loved her grandmother very much, and believed her grandmother loved her, as well, so supporting the family—taking care of her own—felt like the right thing to do. It was expected and became her normal.

Since thirteen, traffickers sexually exploited Zena while her grandmother remained complacent. However, everything changed when the undercover operation began.

O.U.R. Operators started a several month process of infiltrating the internet and street-based trafficking ring that kept Zena and other children enslaved. They met up with two female traffickers (the percentage of women in this role now closely equal to those of men) that promised to supply young and “interesting” girls for sex.

Both sides began coordinating the transport, delivery, and payment via WhatsApp. An Operator remembers negotiating a price for Zena.

The planned event finally arrived, and O.U.R. Operators had the proof they needed. Local law enforcement arrested all those involved in the abuse and freed the girls.

Zena, 16 at the time, did not go into aftercare but returned home, not ready to take advantage of all O.U.R.’s supportive programs. But she did begin therapy and worked hard to gain mental health in the following months.

Zena slowly realized the full scope of what had happened to her—what she had been forced to do—and knew that no child should have to go through that.

Now, at 18, she has dreams far beyond the life given to her. Though she doesn’t want to lose any support still offered to her from O.U.R., she doesn’t want hand-outs either. That’s why she started her own dog-walking business for high-end clients that pay her well.

She loves animals, (dogs are her favorite), and hopes to one day be a veterinarian at a zoo. First, she plans to graduate from high school this year and then hopes to attend college. Zena knows she must learn English to succeed, so she has accepted O.U.R.’s offer to cover the costs to help her reach that goal.

Our biggest reward came when we invited Zena to dinner.

ZENA AT DINNER WITH O.U.R. AFTERCARE

We witnessed her enthusiasm and excitement as she talked about the things yet to come and shared how she sings and practices English while walking her dogs. We, along with her social worker, looked on with tearing eyes and deep pride, mesmerized by her genuinely happy and amazing smile and attitude.

We sat in awe of her remarkable, fighting spirit, how she rose above the horrendous things she had been through, now clearly on the path to healing. 

She told us how thankful and invaluable she felt because of our invitation, and the understanding and care given to her.

Zena proudly wears her Hero Band and never takes it off—engraved there—the word “Priceless”. What a perfect way to describe her and everything we’ve experienced from knowing her.

The O.U.R. Ops Team and O.U.R. Aftercare will never forget Zena and the important message she has imparted to all of us. There is always hope. Children trapped in sex trafficking can go on to live incredible, fulfilling lives.

Every life is worth saving, and O.U.R. will continue its commitment to finding and freeing the vulnerable. 

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Comments
(7)
Sadie
2020-07-15 10:43:12
I would like to know how to join in the after care. I am a survivor who Put my abuser away for 6 life sentences and went on to create programs To help the children. I feel drawn to help collaborate promote and support our rescue In saving And aftercare of the children. Thank you
Reply
Lynette
2020-08-14 08:50:07
Saide, May God Bless you! I am so sorry you had to go through that and very thankful the abuser will no longer abuse anyone else.
Lj
2020-08-14 11:22:27
I want to know how to join the program and be an actual person who can Go on the operations
gdzrobot
2020-08-03 06:02:23
You are well done and did a great job. Thanks, people like you will save the world
Reply
Bre McUlty-Dolan
2020-08-19 06:14:22
God bless the O.U.R team for all of your efforts to save these children! May these precious souls know they can do all things through Christ who strengthens them and, no matter what they've gone through, they are perfect, made in the Image of God Himself. ?
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Elaine
2020-08-23 10:01:34
Thank you to all of you who gave up so much to help save so many young lives. This is far more rewarding than any job could be when you save a childs life. Thank you for all the awareness you are putting out there. People need to be educated on this subject to help save their child and all the other children. God bless you all and all the survivors. God bless the children who have not be rescued. May they find comfort in knowing someone is looking for them and they can live a full life when found. The punishment for these traffickers should be life. They not only took the life of a young one but the family's are devastated and most do not know where to turn for help. We need to watch out for our kids and the government needs to help more and share the awareness.
Deane Schultz
2020-12-16 19:44:56
I am older and just subscribed...and not good with the computer. How does one 'log in'? I have no Facebook. (Nor do I have what they call a 'smartphone'(?) Just this old keyboard with a tower-computer. But a question - what is the differences between comments at the top in small writing, and 'larger-print comments' at the bottom? Anyone care to answer?
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