our work globally
We currently work in a few places across Southeast Asia, including India, Philippines and Thailand (including Myanmar). Each area and community has specific needs and concerns but our approach is simple: Prevention (including education), Rescue & Rehabilitation. Some of the activities we run include safe houses, rescue teams, schools, preschools, community classes, sports and mentoring programs, vocational training and livelihood support.
We focus on prevention as we believe there are many who are vulnerable to trafficking and are not properly equipped to protect themselves. We do this largely through schooling and community education for those in at-risk areas. The Freedom Project provides safe learning environments for children who would otherwise miss out on education, as well as providing access to education for adults and pre-school aged children. Providing education is essential to help people and their families understand the risks associated with trafficking, forced labour, and other slavery traps. We do this through a number of programs, including informal classes, mentoring sessions and after-school sports programs.
We have local teams on the ground involved with research, investigation, collaboration and negotiation to rescue those we believe have been trafficked or enslaved. It is a complex task that requires much planning and care. In the case of child soldiers, there are lengthy negotiations between militants and the on-the-ground team. For sex trafficking victims, there is usually an investigative team working with local law enforcements before they can do a raid, to ensure each rescue is successful.
We believe that rehabilitation is extremely important to care for victims as well as ensure they do not fall back into situations of slavery. Our teams seek to provide the support and assistance that each person needs. This includes things such as food, safe housing, compassion, trauma care, and livelihood assistance. It may also include education, skills training and being reunited with family and friends. For many, this process is just as long and painful as their time in captivity, as they are carrying so much pain and sadness. Our team is committed to bringing love, hope, healing and new life to each person they work with.
The work does not end there. We continue to grow the movement against injustice, work with new communities, and focus on prevention and education in new areas. To find out about our work in each region, continue reading.
India has the 4th largest number of trafficked persons in the world, with many trafficked from neighbouring cities, regions and even countries. We work in an area infamous for sex trafficking and child trafficking. Our team spends time running before and after school programs that focus on sports, mentoring and academic assistance. In conjunction with this, we also run regular sports camps where young boys from vulnerable backgrounds come together to play sport, learn and are encouraged to build a positive future for themselves. We also run safe homes for young women and young men, pre-school classes for young children, and offer other assistance to people in need.
A big focus of our work in the Philippines is prevention and rescue of child soldiers. We work in an high-conflict area where rebel groups are very active and always seeking to recruit more militants - which unfortunately often ends up being children. They may be coerced or tricked into it under the pretence of military training or conscription, but are often mistreated and not given the freedom to return home. We work collaboratively with locals, authorities and families to provide education for those vulnerable to these risks. We also invest in livelihood projects that provide viable alternatives for families who are poor and may be tempted by other offers of employment that may be exploitative.
Thailand (and Myanmar)
In Thailand, our work focuses on child soldiers, being a very prevalent issue in the border region in which we work. We are investing in providing education across various communities that are vulnerable to children being trafficked into rebel armies. Part of our approach is also to negotiate with militants so we can provide opportunities for some child soldiers to be released into our schools. This provides them with education that they would otherwise miss out on, and reduces the risk of them returning to fight. Our education program is holistic - focusing on literacy and basic education standards, as well as trauma support, health and wellbeing, life skills, and vocational training.