By Madelyn Olsen
It just takes one time.
A 15-year-old former sex slave, previously kept in a cage, with cigarette burns all over her body, is now experiencing the joy and love that every child should experience. It only takes one time to see this, and one cannot possibly remain numb to the issue of human trafficking.
Rescue:Freedom is one of many international organizations that helps people like this out of the human trafficking industry.
According to the FBI, “Not only is human sex trafficking slavery, but it is big business. It is the fastest-growing business of organized crime and the third-largest criminal enterprise in the world.”
Over the years, Rescue:Freedom partners have provided support to more than 19,000 women and children impacted by sexual slavery in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Moldova and Tajikistan.
Rescue:Freedom is a non-profit network that mobilizes resources, knowledge and funding and works to restore lives broken by sexual slavery through providing night shelters, safe houses, medical clinics and vocational training.
To combat the exploitation of children, teens and women, Rescue:Freedom provides holistic aftercare services. Founded by David and Dr. Beth Grant, it reaches not only throughout Asia, but also has partnerships in the United States, as well with the U COUNT Campaign.
U COUNT Campaign Director Lisa Christopherson described their role.
“Our whole goal is to create job sustainability for women rescued out of sex slavery. …. We [U COUNT] are a human trafficking campaign, as well, that connects with Rescue:Freedom to distribute the products the girls are making.”
Dick Foth, chairman of the board at Rescue:Freedom, said, “When you go to the after-care facilities that are about 40 miles out of Mumbai, and you meet these girls, and they hug and call you ‘auntie’ or ‘uncle,’ a term of respect left over from the British colonial days, it makes it worth it. It’s like what Mother Teresa said, ‘We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.’ It may be just one drop, but it’s a drop nonetheless.”
In 2008, Foth, accompanied by Jeremy Vallerand, president of Rescue:Freedom, traveled to Mumbai, India.
“They drove us through the red light district, and Mumbai has one of the biggest, if not the largest, red light district in the world,” Vallerand said. “They drove us through there late at night, at peak business hours, and you could see the blatant exploitation happening.”
The next morning, they took us to a home where there were kids rescued out of that red light district, and for both Dick [Foth] and I, it had a pretty profound impact. We came back to the states and started talking more about how we can help and partner with them, and that’s how Rescue:Freedom ended up coming into being.”
Forth explained what it takes to start an effort to end human trafficking.
“It just takes one time,” Foth said. “Going to that red light district in India and seeing those girls, how young they are, and when you look in their faces you see your daughter, or granddaughter, and you can’t not help them. It just takes seeing that one time.”