When to-do lists and busyness take over my time at Love146, it’s not long before someone pauses and asks me: What’s important right now for helping the children in our care? The holidays may be a busy time for you too, but before it gets crazy we’ve gotta pause to remember what’s important: things like family, and love, and contributing to the world we want to live in. The following updates contain some encouraging updates and difficult information but it’s all about our bottom line at Love146: doing what it takes to create and defend spaces where childhood can be beautiful.
COLLABORATION TO HELP CHILDREN HURT BY CYBERSEX TRAFFICKING
Recently several children — ages 4 to 12 — came into our care after being exploited online. Bringing them to safety is worth celebrating — but it wasn’t easy, and the collaboration it required is also worth cheering. The whole operation took only 36 hours — a whirlwind of activity that demonstrated what close, quick coordination among determined, like-minded people can achieve. Here’s how it went down: European law enforcement discovered the abuse and set out for the Philippines. We were alerted by a partner non-governmental organization that an intervention would take place. After the intervention we were beside the children while authorities interviewed them and then brought them to our safe home. Though the online exploitation of children is an international enterprise, shutting it down and protecting children is local, and it requires people working together quickly. Important collaboration isn’t merely about meeting and planning at a conference, but acting with speed and purpose to protect children.
REINTEGRATION FOR SURVIVORS & THE DIFFICULT FEELING OF LEAVING YOUR SAFE HOME FAMILY
What’s the experience of survivors of trafficking who are recovering in shelters? The authors of a study from the Butterfly Research Project, co-funded by Love146 and produced by our friends at Chab Dai, focused on the reintegration experiences of more than 100 participants, all of whom lived in shelters in Cambodia. Part of the study’s goal was to promote the voices of survivors, as their experiences are vital to improve care and better aid them on their journey of recovery. Some of the feedback was around the vulnerability of survivors once they left their safe home: A common theme was, “Feeling loved like a family member in the shelter, but abandoned in the community,” as was the related, “Uncertainty about readiness to survive in the community.” The authors noted that the study “affirms the dignity and rights of clients and ensures that clients’ knowledge can be used to strengthen services.”
LOVE146 PHILIPPINES TEAM, INCLUDING A SURVIVOR, WENT TO BANGKOK TO SHARE ABOUT OUR PROGRAM
Dr. Gundelina Velazco, our Director of Asia Survivor Care, and five others from our Philippines safe homes (social workers, caregivers, and client from a safe home) attended the International Conference on Children and Families (ICCF) in Bangkok last month. The conference was focused on best practices and Dr. Velazco had been invited to speak about the work of Love146 in the Philippines. (Her talk had the impressive title: “Love146: Science-Based Interventions, Phenomenology-based Program Development and Structural-Functional Program Management.”) We made great connections at this conference and the team from our Philippines safe homes really enjoyed traveling and participating in an international event.
“SHE’S ALWAYS THERE TO PICK UP THE PHONE…”
The State of Connecticut’s Human Anti-Trafficking Response Team awarded one of our social workers (whose identity we don’t reveal for her protection) its annual Shining Star Award for her work with youth who’ve been trafficked. They shared that this Love146 survivor care worker “is always there to pick up the phone and has shown a consistent presence in [one survivor’s] life when she had no one. She is the kindest, most patient and incredible advocate for every kid she works for. … I cannot say enough good things about her.”