One of my most vivid memories is standing on a pier in Elmina, Ghana and looking into the eyes of a child slave. I imagine the experience is similar to meeting a child that is entrenched in any abusive situation and does not believe there is any hope for the future. Everything within me was urging me to take him and flee, but as I looked around it was evident that there were dozens more just like him. At that moment, I felt as hopeless as he appeared.
I have also had the privilege of meeting survivors of both sex and labor trafficking, and while that does not remove the ache in my heart for the young boy in Ghana, it does renew my hope. Each person that I have met has been in various stages of recovery—some so recently freed that they still bore physical marks of their abuse—but each has had, at minimum, a spark of hope in their eyes. Proof that restoration is attainable.
At 100X, we are working hard to make sure that vulnerable children never experience the abuse of human trafficking. We focus primarily on prevention because we’re aware of the harsh reality that 99% of victims are never rescued.
In the United States, it is estimated that a runaway (or homeless) youth is approached by a trafficker within 48 hours of living on the street. One in three will be exploited for commercial sex. The average age of entry into commercial sex? 13.
We also know that children that have been in the foster care system are especially vulnerable—both circumstantially and emotionally. This is one of the reasons that we are so pleased to have Adullam House as one of our partner organizations. Adullam House is a 100X partner whose mission is to care for children whose mothers are in prison. Children at Adullam House are loved and protected—and they are taught that their life has purpose. Very quickly, the vulnerability created by their past begins to lose ground, and they become less susceptible to recruitment by traffickers.
The vulnerability of youth is compounded in developing countries—especially for young orphans. The children that we work with in Malawi, Peru, Mexico, India and Uganda face the same challenges as children in the US, but there are even less safeguards and fewer laws to protect them. In many cases, law enforcement is corrupt and often contributes to the problem. Exploitation begins at a younger age, and children are often forced across borders—away from all that is familiar. The same is true in Moldova.
Our work in these countries aims to protect those that traffickers will target most. In some cases, children have already been exploited before they enter our care. This is where restoration takes place. We believe that every child, regardless of past circumstances, has been created for a purpose and we are committed to providing the resources and education they need for a hopeful future. Last year alone, we were able to protect more than 400 children.
Every child has the right to grow up without fear of exploitation and abuse. Will you help us reach one more?
How YOU can help LEVERAGE…
Speak Up—Post a message on Facebook or Twitter (mention @100XDevelopment or #100X and we’ll respond), send an email, or talk to your friends and co-workers. The more people who know about and support what we are doing directly impacts how much we are able to accomplish!
Give—we want to reach as many young girls as possible, and we cannot do it alone. You can make a donation, give up your birthday, run a marathon—be creative! We’ve designed a Razoo page to help you get started.
Pray—pray for the children, for those working to help them, and for exposure of those who are exploiting them.
If you have questions, or want to run an idea by us, email our team at Leverage@100XDevelopment.com.
–Kimberly Casey, Special Assistant and Program Manager