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At The Exodus Road, we champion national efforts at fighting trafficking– especial those helping law enforcement or government sectors.  To that end, we’ve been able to utilize a portion of the monthly funding from ALPHA team donors to pay a salary to a civilian assistant to a Child Protection Unit in the local police. In addition, a portion of our monthly funding goes to cover a percentage of the case expenses of PeBo and the team he works with. While we don’t pay salaries for actual police staff, enabling PeBo as an assistant is a practical way to support police work. {You can check out an excellent article about unit leader, Pol. Lt. Col. Apichart Hattasin, in the Bangkok Post.}

We sat down with PeBo recently and got a little of his story. Enjoy these summarized excerpts from his interview:

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Background, Family: I was born in Chiang Mai. I have one sister who runs the Hug Project {an outreach devoted to empowering at-risk and exploited children} and got me into this work, and I have another sister who died. I went to school downtown, and my father died 14 years ago. That was a hard time.

Job Assisting Police: I have a Public Administration degree from Chiang Mai Ratchbhat University. With the degree, you need to do an internship. My sister, Boom, worked with the Lt. Col. Hattasin with Police Region 5. They were working together on the Big Brother/Hug Project, and she connected me with him. I began working for three months at an internship at first. At first, I didn’t much care for the police; I really wanted to be a soldier. But then, I started working with Hattasin and his team, and I wanted to stay involved and keep helping children, even after my internship. I am not an official member of the Thai police, but support their work. There are six people on our team. I’ve worked with them now about one year.

Most Difficult Part of the Job: I don’t like all the reporting and documents the police need. It’s hard for me because I would rather be doing the action of the work. I also think it is difficult when we go on a case and we don’t have the information we need at the beginning.

What You Enjoy About the Work: I like the {fact-finding} part, and I like being part of a charity and helping kids. I’m not really afraid of the danger. Each day is different, depending on what the case needs or what {Hattasin} is working on or needs us to do.

A Discouraging Case: One time we were chasing a woman from the slums who was selling her child. She was about ten years old. I was tracking her in the car, but then I lost her. That was hard.

A Successful Case: We have been involved in catching a lot of monks. There was one monk that went to an orphan center and convinced the kids to come and hang out and go to the temple, and he would abuse them. We arrested him and got the boys to testify.

Challenges: It’s difficult because sometimes you have to collect a lot of evidence. And a lot of times, the children will lie at first because they are afraid, so you have to get a lot of evidence to prove what happened. And then we work with the kids to testify. Also, each case can take several months.

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PeBo, with an i-phone that Exodus Road community provided him for use in his work supporting police efforts.

We are grateful to rally our funding efforts to support local work in bringing justice to children, and empowering PeBo and some of his team’s expenses is a way we do just that. If you are monthly donating to ALPHA Team, THANK YOU. And, if you’d like to join ALPHA, click here.

Interested in more? Check out the HUG Project Facebook page, Search and Rescue FAQ, or, again, the article in the Bangkok Post about the team which PeBo serves.

A Note About ALPHA: If you’ve been reading here for a while, you understand that the Search and Rescue team designations of ALPHA, BRAVO, CHARLIE, DELTA are used by The Exodus Road only. It’s a simple way we can designate funding and connect field teams and partners (with their own organizations) with donors. ALPHA funding is used not only to support this team in Northern Thailand, but it is also used to support a strong partner operating from Bangkok, Freeland, which tackles human trafficking cases, as well.

We are beyond pleased to introduce you to our new Vice President of Operations for The Exodus Road, Kevin Campbell. We interviewed many applicants and feel that Kevin is the perfect fit to lead our organization to the next level of strategic change. With 15 years of executive level management in corporate America, Kevin will help develop and oversee systems that will help The Exodus Road to operate more effectively. Kevin will lead our administrative and volunteer team from the home office in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Not only is his leadership experience a crucial addition to The Exodus Road family, but his heart to advocate for the oppressed is inspiring, as well. A father to seven who recently relocated from Atlanta, Georgia, Kevin also leads his own nonprofit which cares for orphans and vulnerable children in Asia. Take a minute to get to know him by reading the following interview:

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Briefly, tell us about your background: family, education, journey.  I have an amazing family, and its a big family – 7 kids!  I was the guy who didn’t want to get married, and if I did get married, I didn’t want to have any kids.  Clearly, my life took a bit of a different direction.  I have an amazing wife, Angelica, and my 7 amazing children ranging in age from 22 to 4.  As a family, we’re big advocates for adoption as well as doing our individual parts to bring hope and justice to the oppressed in the world.

When it comes to education, I think most of what I’ve learned has been through the school of hard knocks. However, while I spent 4 years studying Business Administration, I ultimately got my undergrad in Religion, and I’m currently finishing my MBA in International Business.

I love talking about journey.  In some ways, my journey is probably not that different than yours.  The tapestry of my life is thread together with success and failure, joy and pain, hopes and dashed dreams, faith and doubt, brokenness and love.  And, at this point in my life, I think my journey, thus far, can best be summed up in what my wife and I tell our kids, regularly:  This life is not about us.  I find I have profoundly more joy and fulfillment when I’m not so focused on me.  My story, is a far better story, when it’s lived for a bigger Story.  That’s why being a part of The Exodus Road is such an honor.

What work and life experience do you bring to The Exodus Road?  I bring experience from both the corporate and non-profit sector to my new post at The Exodus Road.  For the past 15 years I’ve worked in the corporate world in operational executive leadership roles for various companies.  I also co-founded a non-profit organization in 2007 that works to bring hope and opportunity to vulnerable children worldwide.

When did you first hear about The Exodus Road and why did you want to get involved in the work of empowering rescue? I actually came across The Exodus Road while looking for organizations that were engaged in the fight against human trafficking.  There’s no doubt, there are many great organizations doing tremendous work in this area, but The Exodus Road was unique in two ways that really stuck out to me; intervention and coalition.  I was sold when I saw this.  I knew that should an opportunity  ever open up with the organization, I wanted to be part of the team.  I’m extremely fortunate to be working with such an amazing group of people that are making an impact for good.

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What is the greatest challenge you face right now in your role as VP of Operations? I think my greatest challenge is getting to know the inner workings of The Exodus Road; which is simply an issue of time.  I want to make sure that I integrate my experience, skills and expectations in a way that fosters and supports our mission, team and operations.

If you could say anything to the community of supporters here at Exodus Road, (those that give financially, volunteers, social advocates)  what would it be?  First, I would say, Thank You!  It might sound cliche, but we could not do what we do without your support.  It’s true; your voices and financial support are the lifeblood that allow us to do the work of rescue.  I would also say that real impact is being made.  Children are being rescued and lives are being changed.  Though the task is big, we are, all of us together, making a difference.  The numbers can be daunting, 27,000,000 slaves worldwide, the most in human history.  However, we can’t let that deter us.  Every voice crying out and every dollar raised is working toward freedom for a child.  As the saying goes, “To the world you might be one person, but to one person you might be the world.”  You matter to us, and you matter to every child bound in the darkness and recesses of a brothel.

What are you most excited about seeing accomplished through your role of VP of Operations?  I’m excited to utilize my experience and skills in such a way that our internal operations and infrastructure can more successfully, intentionally, and strategically support our field teams and our organization as a whole, in the work of empowering rescue.

If you could say anything to victims of trafficking, still awaiting rescue, what would it be? My heart breaks for your situation, and I can never begin to fathom or understand what you’re enduring. But if at all possible, keep hope, because I, with the the rest of The Exodus Road team, share a life-mission to find you.  Rescue is coming.

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In March of 2014, The Exodus Road hired its first female field staff to support investigations on the ground in SE Asia. Chloe* is 26 years old and comes from Pensacola, Florida. She has worked hard to fundraise to help cover her expenses in the field and has spent the last four months serving alongside DELTA team as a valuable member. Staff member Sam Stephenson took a few minutes with to interview her on a recent trip to the field. Below are a few excerpts from their conversation:

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What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?

A WNBA Player.

Truly?

Truly. Sheryl Swoopes was my girl. I had her poster. I loved her. Basketball was my first love, I always say. I was pretty committed. I also thought I would be GI Jane, or an architect, or a female version of Tony Hawk. Any of those.

 

So what do you do full time for a living now?

I work full time as a volunteer investigator for The Exodus Road.

 

Tell me how your got into your line of work.

Well, I studied international affairs in school. In the program I studied a lot of global issues like poverty, gender inequality, and human trafficking related issues, and it was on my heart and my mind to do foreign aid after I graduated–particularly either education, gender inequality or counter trafficking work.

Instead of looking for work, or getting an office job or something, I decided I would travel the world and see where I could help, and after coming back from that, I started looking for a job that had to deal with counter trafficking or poverty relief – something practical and helpful.

 

As a volunteer investigator, what has been the happiest moment of your work?

Chasing a pedophile down a soi (street) to successfully ID his motor bike. And I was successful.

 

What did the chase look like?

We found him that day, and within 30 minutes, we had taken some footage of him, with a kid, probably about 13. He was caressing this kid’s face. A boy. We believed that they were involved otherwise. This was just in passing, looking for another target. We had two separate bikes and I was left to follow the target. I was doing a foot follow, realized he was getting on his bike, and my bike was about 200 yards away, so I turned around, and bolted down the street to hop on my bike. As fast as I could, I started it up and got back to where his bike was, guessed which direction he took, and there he was.

I followed him back to his house, and since we have been able to do a lot of surveillance in that area.

It was my first follow. So, it was helpful, and it felt like good training for me.

 

How long had you been working for us in that town at that point?

Three days.

 

Do you experience a kind of mistrust for people in general? 

Yes. Absolutely. The more I learn, the more I feel that I can have an informed suspicion or informed opinion of people. So, I try to give tourists, male tourists in particular, the benefit of the doubt, and some days I feel really strongly about that, and I can really focus on not assuming the worst. Then, there’s other days where I feel extremely suspicious of everybody.

It can wear you out because you are always looking and analyzing situations and wondering.

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{Chloe and DELTA team working on self defense and disarming techniques.}

How have you processed being a female in this line of work?

As a woman, you can become skeptical of men, across the board. Very distrusting of the male race. This is a world sex tourist destination, and I don’t understand that. You wonder: Can every guy relate to this? How close are most guys to this problem?

Working with this team has reminded me that there are men who are faithful to their partners [and] not just trying to have a good time; [guys who] don’t treat sex so selfishly.

 

What are some of the life lessons/personal lessons you have learned in the last month?

The importance of living a balanced life. When you take on the weight of these things, of helping others, you can’t be so naïve to think that you will light the whole world on fire with your plan to cure poverty [or slavery]. Instead, you have to set reasonable goals, celebrate the small stuff, go after what you can. My inspiration comes from what is attainable – and having balance makes me feel closer to being alive. I’ve been getting Thai massages. I read Dr. Seuss. I watch funny sitcoms, cartoons, and Christmas movies. It balances my heavy heart with a light heart.

 

How do you want to be remembered?

I think at first crack at it, I’d like to be remembered as [a person who] thought for myself, and stood for what was right, and loved the poor and marginalized, and was gracious and graceful in doing that.

 

One more question, how would you describe the guys that you work with, to your mom?

They are a bunch of kind hearted, highly skilled [men]. They don’t care about the publicity; they want to do their job.  It’s beautiful. It’s very pure.

We recently spent several weeks working with David Zach, lead singer of the Christian rock band, Remedy Drive, who latest album is dedicated to fighting trafficking. Their hit-single, Commodity, continues to top the charts.

Here, David gives an interview about his experiences engaging in undercover work with our field teams. We continue to be grateful for partners like David who are using their talents, voices and careers for freedom’s sake.

I didn’t fully understand the scope of trafficking and child exploitation when I arrived in Thailand. Having grown up in a pretty sheltered part of the world, my experience with human trafficking has been limited to several viewings of the 2008 blockbuster “Taken” and the various stories of investigations, rescues, and survival that float into my cube at The Exodus Road offices.

Thats why, when approached by an eight year old boy selling roses on a dingy street in southern Thailand, I bought one for my wife. “Let’s arm wrestle. The loser has to buy a rose for your girlfriend,” he said, extending a tiny arm onto the table of the bar I was sitting at.

One of our investigators leaned in, fresh off my loss, “You see those two guys over there? Those are his handlers. They send him into the street and take all the money he makes. Just watch.”

And sure enough, three arm wrestles later, the boy marched over to the men standing in the shadows and handed them the money.

An estimated 20,000 to 25,000 homeless children wander the streets of Thailand, “the majority of these children have been trafficked, endured crimes of pedophilia or other physical and emotional abuse” (Human Health Network). UNICEF Child Protection Officer Sirirath Chunnasart notes that “children who live or work on the streets are at great risk of violence, abuse, exploitation, drugs and HIV. They often have little or no access to health, education or other social services.”

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That’s where Khru Ja comes in. The Exodus Road and Khru Ja began partnership in 2012. Khru Ja, an expressive, joy-filled man, runs a safe home for the once trafficked and displaced children in southern Thailand. The home, refuge to 38 children (12 girls, 26 boys) helps children that have been victims of any number of horrors to reenter society poised for success. Khru Ja, formerly a street child himself, was given a chance to receive an education and as a result has spent his life offering the same opportunity to children. Reflecting on the value of his education Ja notes, “It was generosity that saved my life, the least I can do is offer the same opportunity.”

The safe house, a near self-sustaining facility, features a vegetable garden, chicken coop, basketball court, soccer field, and five apartment style homes for the children to live in. A staff of six provides ongoing care to the children and maintenance of the property. Once at the home, children are provided with the educational tools and emotional support to begin the process of restoration. The project is entirely led by nationals.

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In addition to providing a safe home to children in Thailand, Khru Ja works with local authorities to identify perpetrators of human trafficking and sexual abuse throughout the country. In his career he has worked on an estimated 350 western pedophile cases and 150 Thai sexual abuse cases. In the words of The Exodus Road Team, “Ja is a doer, he gets things done.” Ja has been working in this field for over 25 years and his kindness, laughter, and generosity are striking. When asked about his work, Ja, smiling from ear to ear declares, “I have been working for many years on the streets of Thailand. You see so many boys, girls… children, walking around, abused, neglected, forgotten. This place is a part of changing that.”Ja was recently one of twelve recipients for a governmental nationwide award given annually to recognize notable leaders in the field of counter-trafficking.

The Exodus Road Team of investigators and partnering police are key investigative partners of Khru Ja and work with him on a regular basis. In addition to investigative support and networking case management, The Exodus Road has given a motorcycle to Khru Ja’s team and has provided internet services for his facility. The Exodus Road is currently working on providing school fees for some of the children at the home.

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The Exodus Road is partnering with investigative teams throughout the world to fuel literal rescue with local police. We are sending trained investigators out to find and free sex slaves (nearly 300 so far), and you can help.
With your monthly donation, you’ll be joining an actual Search and Rescue team on the frontlines. Your gift of $35 will cover the expenses of one night of local investigations. You may not be able to go look for sex slaves, but you can send someone out on your behalf who can.
By joining, you’ll also receive a welcome packet in the mail, real-time updates via email or texts, and even covert footage of your team’s progress as they bring freedom to the modern day slave. JOIN A TEAM TODAY:  
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Sponsorship is $35/monthly. Funds typically operational expenses for field teams. All donations are tax-deductible through The Exodus Road, a registered 501c3.
Need more info? Check out our different Search and Rescue Teams HERE or read our FAQ page HERE. You can also watch covert footage from a recent raid HERE

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We’ve been recently asked by a field partner for smartphones to be used in their investigations. And we thought you, as our community here, could help us. Here are the details:

Looking For: Gently used but quality i-Phone 4′s or later models. The phone must have the ability to accept a SIM card. We need all the charging cables, if possible, as well. We’d like the phones to be wiped clean of personal information, loaded apps, etc.  as well.

What We’re Not Looking For: Phones without the ability to be take a SIM card. Damaged, cracked, or unworking phones. We are not looking for smartphones that are not i-Phones (Androids, etc.) because of the desire to provide a consistent tool and the specific capabilities of i-Phones.

Why: I-Phones are quickly becoming key field tools for investigators. The team can use them for gps tracking, quick research, translation help, communications amongst each other and others, and gathering video and photo evidence. We are looking to supply a team of ten investigators (all nationals, all working directly with/for the local police) with reliable phones.

How to Donate: Mail the gently used phone to our home office, and we will deliver them to the field. Mail to:

The Exodus Road

PO Box 1681

Colorado Springs, CO 80901  

 

This initiative is a practical way for our community to meet a tangible need for the front lines. As you upgrade your i-Phone, please keep our supported investigators in mind. We’re hoping to supply the team of ten with phones by the end of August 2014, but we have other partners who could utilize these phones, as well. Should we get more phones donated or receive items later than August, we will still be gifting them to investigative partners.

 

 

Need a receipt? If you’d like a donation receipt for your phone, email our Finance Director at Tammy@theExodusRoad.com to request one.

police and ngo partner col omsin

In June of 2014, the annual Trafficking in Persons report downgraded Thailand from a Tier 2-Watchlist Country, or a country where governments do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards, to a Tier 3 Country, a country whose governments do not fully comply with the minimum standards and are not making significant efforts to do so. The downgrade to a Tier 3 status, the lowest rating, has been designated to 24 countries and represents a significant call to action for the nation of Thailand.

“Overall antitrafficking law enforcement efforts remained insufficient compared with the size of the problem in Thailand, and corruption at all levels hampered the success of these efforts,” the report said. Referring to nongovernmental organizations, it added, “Despite frequent media and NGO reports documenting instances of forced labor and debt bondage among foreign migrants in Thailand’s commercial sectors — including the fishing industry — the government demonstrated few efforts to address these trafficking crimes.” (New York Times) Thailand is currently debating the downgrade.

In spite of the drop in designation, and the range of human trafficking throughout the nation, The Exodus Road law enforcement partner Lt. Colonel Omsin remains committed to the protection of victims of human trafficking.

The Exodus Road and Lt. Colonel Omsin (pictured above with Exodus Road Founder, Matt Parker) began partnering in October of 2013 with DELTA team investigators, when they met at the regional conference The Exodus Road sponsored in Southern Thailand. Since then, The Exodus Road (DELTA Team) has worked with Lt. Colonel Omsin to provide space for intentional networking between organizations, investigative resources and man hours, and covert gear. In a recent meeting with Lt. Colonel Omsin he noted:

“At the beginning, I thought, this can not work. The NGO cannot help us. But now, I see that it can.”

Omsin has been in the police force for seven years and works with 7-8 staff members who assist him. His unit primarily focuses on capturing pedophiles and traffickers, and he has worked an estimated 150 cases in his career. He is in close communication with DELTA investigators on a regular basis and calls them to help gather evidence involving crimes against children.

Omsin works with his own team of national police, DELTA investigators, and another close partner, Khru Ja, who runs an after care facility in the  area and works with street children. Together, they are proving a model of effective collaboration between the NGO and the national police force, and we are honored to be a small part of their noble work.

 

red light bloggers

We were honored to host four popular bloggers on a trip to SE Asia in June. They met investigators, toured after care facilities, shook hands with experts, interviewed trafficked victims, walked red-light districts, and even observed a real undercover operation.

And they’ve candidly shared their stories online at their personal blogs.

If you ever wanted to visit the field, here’s your (virtual) chance. Take some time to read over their journeys by visiting this page HERE.

photo cred. Heather Armstrong

Freedom Weekend

Sam Stephenson —  June 22, 2014

In May of 2014, The Exodus Road and local partners hosted a two day Freedom Weekend event in Colorado Springs.

On Friday night Jack Quinn’s, a local pub, and Jamie The Very Worst Missionary welcomed over 150 guests for a time of shared stories, experiences, and a question and answer session.

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*Photo Credit Cassidy Brooke Photography

On Saturday night, Ivywild School (shout out to Events Coordinator Nikki Lee) catered to 100 Colorado Springs residents as Matt Parker, President of The Exodus Road, shared his vision for rescuing victims of sexual slavery. The event at Ivywild School, sponsored by local partners Bristol Brewing Company, Bluestar Group, Lewis Roca Rothgerber LLP, Mission Trip Insurance, New Life DOWNTOWN, Discovery Church, Jim and Martha Cole (residents of Colorado Springs), brought the community together in shared pursuit of one common goal: doubling the number of rescued victims (from 253 to 506).

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Local artist, Lois Sprague, creating a beautiful piece for our silent auction.

Local artist, Lois Sprague, creating a beautiful piece for our silent auction.

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Musician Emily Knurr plays for guests at The Exodus Road Dinner

Musician Emily Knurr plays for guests at The Exodus Road Dinner

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*Photo Credit Mike Lyon Photography

It is with immense gratitude that we report the success of the event. All funds received on Friday and Saturday night have helped further fuel rescue efforts in India and Southeast Asia. The Exodus Road headquarters, located in Colorado Springs, stands in awe of the community support, involvement, and belief in our organization. It is because of partners like this, that act where they are, when they can, that we are able to move ever closer in finding and rescuing victims of human trafficking (today, we are pleased to report the rescue of 284).

To our city, our home, thank you.