Have a question about The Exodus Road? Chances are, it’s answered here:
1. What IS The Exodus Road?
The Exodus Road is a coalition of organizations and individuals fighting sexual slavery and human trafficking. Primarily working in Asia, the coalition exists to facilitate and empower undercover investigations, raids and rescues for victims, and arrests of criminals – all in close partnership with local governments.
2. How did The Exodus Road begin?
The Exodus Road was begun through the work of Matt Parker, our current Executive Director, in the Fall of 2011. Living and working in the counter-trafficking community in SE Asia, Matt began to see the deficiencies of intervention efforts due to a lack of funding, collaboration, training, and equipment. After building relationships for two years with both the government and local NGO’s and through his own investigative work into over 250 brothels, he began The Exodus Road coalition as a means to empower and unite those in the field already working in investigations and interventions. You can watch a brief video of Matt explaining The Exodus Road’s beginnings HERE.
3. Does The Exodus Road have its own investigative team or does it just provide resources to other organizations?
Both. We do have a Director of Operations in a city in SE Asia who manages cases The Exodus Road team funds and operates directly. Working with local governments and other NGOs in the community, The Exodus Road fuels specific cases and raids- providing investigators, support, surveillance equipment and operational funding.
In addition, we also make grants to other investigative groups for specific needs (such as equipment). To apply for a grant, individuals or organizations must be accepted as part of the coalition and will be held accountable according to coalition standards, including a Best Investigative Practices Handbook. Reports will be submitted proving the correct use of funds or equipment, but our staff will not necessarily be directly involved in cases involving granted resources. The idea here is that we want to empower the good work that is already being done by governments and NGOs– not take over or force other groups to “become” us. We are not building an empire, we are building a community.
4. What does The Exodus Road give its teams/members? How does a group/individual join the coalition?
We provide several benefits to members of the coalition, including: operational funds for investigations, contract salaries for national investigators (if needed), professional covert equipment, collaboration within the intervention (and after-care) community, investigator-care (including counseling services and safety measures, if needed), investigator training, access to our social media outlets (including our team of bloggers with a collective online influence of over 180,000 readers), consultations/help in development of websites or marketing efforts for a project or member organization, fundraising help for a particular project/case, and facilitated relationships with government officials. You can read more about benefits HERE or about why a group might join HERE.
To join the coalition, individuals or organizations must be active in the field of targeted interventions in Asia. (We are also developing an after-care arm of our coalition.) Members must apply online and undergo an interview process. Membership is free and can remain anonymous. You can apply HERE.
Essentially, the coalition is not about status or an empirical structure. It is about collaborative relationships among those who are active in rescue work and it is about making those investigative efforts as effective as possible.
5. Why are you focused on targeted interventions with local governments?
There are three main areas of the fight against modern day slavery– prevention (awareness, education, sustainable development, etc.), intervention (investigations, raids, arrests, prosecutions, etc.), and after-care (trauma counseling, safe houses, rehabilitation, education for survivors, job training, re-integration, etc.) All three areas are crucial and require tenacious efforts. (You can read an illustration of this HERE.)
The Exodus Road was birthed out of a recognition of the deficiencies of intervention efforts specifically, and it will remain focused primarily to that end.
We also believe that when arrests and prosecutions are made in respectful partnerships with the local governments, we are slowing the lucrative machine that is trafficking and the underage sex industry. When the local police raids and arrests, a message is sent to brothel owners, risk for illegal activities increases, and the bribed relationship between government and brothel owner (in some countries) is broken. We are not only rescuing the victim today, but we are also rescuing the many victims who the imprisoned brothel owner will not enslave tomorrow. This is a strategic, effective, long-term method of causing positive social change. You can read more HERE.
6. In which countries do you work currently?
The Exodus Road currently empowers teams in SE Asia and India.
7. What are your stats?
As of January 2013, The Exodus Road has directly supported the rescue (through funding, equipment, investigators, and in-field support) of 114 children from sexual slavery since July of 2012. Our investigative team consists of 27 undercover investigators with official relationships with the coalition. Several of these investigators work for other organizations but choose to collaborate on cases together. Their collective career-experience has resulted in over 900 victim rescues, over 400 prosecutions and over 75 years of investigative experience.
We also have close networked relationships with four after-care facilities and work to support 16 government and non-governmental organizations.
Because of the nature of our work, our stats are always changing. You can read more details about our numbers by clicking HERE.
8. Who are your undercover investigators?
We’ll never tell you.
We consider the safety of our operatives in the field of utmost importance. Because many of the agents live in the same countries where they are investigating, it is difficult for them to publicly show their faces, names or needs. By becoming a part of the coalition, The Exodus Road becomes a mouthpiece for these undercover investigators, a means by which they can communicate their stories and their need, while protecting their own identities, if needed.
We can tell you that the investigators in our network are from at least five different religions and six different countries. Many of them are ex-military, and some have been trained and worked for other investigative NGOs in the past. Of the investigators, we have a slightly higher percentage who are national than foreign. Currently, all are male. And all are incredibly brave.
9. What are your standards for investigative operations?
The Exodus Road has a standard operation procedure handbook by which all investigators while on mission with The Exodus Road or while using granted funds from The Exodus Road commit to adhering to. All operations also operate within local laws and in partnerships with local authorities. While specific policy is, of course, kept secure for the investigative community, we can say that investigators are trained, travel in partners when engaging in higher level surveillance, and are committed to not further “victimizing” the victim during the course of investigations. With policy and accountability in place, The Exodus Road desires to encourage quality, effective investigative practices for the entire community.
10. Where are your offices?
We currently have a stateside office in Colorado, USA. We are working towards funding a SE ASIA regional office building currently.
11. How is The Exodus Road organized?
The Executive Director, Director of Communications, and Marketing Director all live and work from the home office in Colorado. These three handle the public “face” of The Exodus Road through social media, website development, speaking, and fundraising. The home office is also responsible for equipment testing and research, developing donor relations, reporting stories from the field, writing policy, and maintaining accountability for field teams. They also travel several times throughout the year to visit the field.
In SE Asia, a Director of Operations handles the case load and the finances for our team of investigators, working closely with the local government and other NGOs. He maintains the cache of equipment for the teams there and manages missions. The Director of Operations stays connected and gives field reports to the Executive Director, who then passes on needs and (washed) stories to the marketing team or donors.
In India, the Executive Director maintains relationship and accountability with the supported national organization, Indian Rescue Mission.
Financially, The Exodus Road is a nonprofit corporation in good standing in the state of Colorado. Currently, to keep expenses low, we are using the fiscal conduit of New Horizons Foundation out of Colorado Springs, which is a recognized 501c3. You can find them HERE.
12. Who is a member of The Exodus Road Coalition?
We have several partners in the field who have chosen at this time to remain anonymous for various reasons, including safety. Intervention in some parts of the globe can be dangerous, and we respect their desire to protect their families or the children in their care. We do have a few partners who are willing to make their involvement in the coalition public, including Nightlight International and Indian Rescue Mission.
13. What about after-care?
After-care is an essential component in the redemptive rescue of anyone out of sexual slavery. And while The Exodus Road does not possess expertise in wholistic after-care, we are networked with several facilities in SE Asia who do. When our investigative teams are involved in a raid/rescue, we try to immediately place victims into an after-care facility in our network. Ultimately, however, it is in the authority of the local government to place victims into after-care and there are often cases when victims are placed into a government facility to await interviews or repatriation to their home countries.
Our goal is to direct a portion of our funding to the after-care facilities that receive rescued victims to help cover the expenses of that child’s placement. (We are also willing to use our network of supporters to fund certain projects/grants to after-care organizations in our network.) Eventually, we’d like to see a percentage of all donated funds going directly to quality after-care facilities.
14. How do you protect investigators and victims in your media and fundraising?
We are committed to truthful reporting. The Exodus Road will not knowingly exaggerate or over-dramatize for the sake of fundraising, appearance, or competition. We also are committed to protecting the rights and privacy of both our investigative team, slavery victims and exploited children. Because of that, certain facts in our reporting of actual cases will potentially be “washed,” or altered to protect those involved. Places, dates, and names will often be changed, while actual details (such as number of victims rescued, money spent in operations, the “story”) will not be changed.
We are also committed to protecting the methods by which our investigators gather their intel. Thus, we will not be giving sensitive information on strategies, types of equipment, or safety measures our team takes.
We will not show footage or reveal information from any live case, and undercover footage will show faces of potential victims blurred or eyes blocked out to protect privacy.
Photos used on our site are typically representative and are rarely photos of actual victims, places, or investigators.
15. If you find a victim of trafficking or sexual slavery, why don’t you just take them?
Great question, and one we get often. There are several reasons why “grabbing” a victim of trafficking apart from government sanction is not an acceptable course of action:
1. It is typically illegal and is qualified as kidnapping. Because it is of the utmost importance to keep positive working relationships with local governments, an investigator must work underneath the framework of the national police force. Otherwise, the investigators themselves could be arrested for illegal activity or kicked out of the country for kidnapping (or, technically, “trafficking”). This method of “grab and go,” while seemingly the more compassionate solution, actually undermines the authority of the local government in destructive ways.
2. It does not help the big picture. Immediate and vigilante rescue apart from the law might save one victim of trafficking, but it does little to help future victims. Working within the legal system and with the local police are key elements to lasting social change, as human trafficking will become less lucrative with every arrest made and brothel shut down.
3. It is dangerous. Working outside of the law and independently puts all involved at greater risk, including the victim.
4. In some cases, however, there might be exceptions. If an undercover investigator finds a victim in grave and immediate physical danger, we encourage investigators to remove the victim and make immediate calls to local police for reporting and immediate help. Again, investigators must do everything possible to work within the framework of local authorities.
16. Why is video evidence so important?
Video evidence of a crime is some of the most air-tight evidence admissable in court. While victims may be intimated to not testify truthfully or while other evidence may be blurred or lost in the legal process, covert video evidence is crucial for successful prosecutions.
17. What about fiscal accountability?
The Exodus Road is committed to fiscal responsibility and accountability. As a nonprofit corporation in good standing in the state of Colorado, we currently use a fiscal conduit of New Horizons Foundation– a registered 501c3. We will continue to use this accounting agency until we form our own 501c3. Currently, all gifts are tax-deductible if made through New Horizons or if made by a tax-exempt organization (like a church) directly to The Exodus Road.
While 80/20 is the current generally-acceptable nonprofit model (80% of donated funds to operations/ 20% to administration costs), The Exodus Road operates on an average of 15% of donated funds earmarked for administrative costs, this includes the fees we must pay for accounting, office space, and international wires. We are able to keep expenses extremely low primarily because most of our staff are on financial support from other sources or are volunteers.
We are currently working on an internal fiscal audit which will be made public by June of 2013. In addition, all funds given to The Exodus Road as restricted funds for a certain purpose will be designated to that given project. If there is an overage of funds for a project, funds will be dispersed to the greatest area of need. Undesignated funds will also be allocated to the greatest area of need.
18. How do you keep your mission expenses so low?
Most of our staff/members do not receive a salary. They are supported humanitarian aid workers, have other jobs, or are employed by other organizations or foundations, both abroad and stateside. We do occasionally offer temporary contract salaries for national investigators or support staff.
Also, most of our investigative team live in the countries where they are operating, thus deployment costs are kept extremely low. In fact, we rarely fund overseas investigative deployments and instead ask for volunteers to raise or fund their own travel/lodging expenses.
Our general model is that The Exodus Road fuels the actual investigations, operations, and equipment, thus empowering the rescue work, not salaries or general living expenses.
Stateside, our staff and office space is primarily funded through personal donations, which remains a primary reason we can work full-tiime in fundraising and management.
We are also in the process of developing several business concepts which will hopefully fuel both rescue work internationally and continue to underwrite the administrative costs of the stateside office.
19. Is The Exodus Road a Christian organization?
No. We believe in unifying as many people as possible in the fight against modern day slavery and feel that oftentimes religion can become a stumbling block to that unity. We also believe that because we work in primarily non-christian nations, it is important to reach out in a neutral way to the governments with which we work. Right now, our teams in the field represent five different religious beliefs, including Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christian.
Having said that, the members of executive leadership do identify with the Christian faith and are motivated for justice out of their belief and love for Jesus Christ. Currently, the after-care facilities in our network are also Christian-based.
20. How does a typical case work and where does the money go?
You can read all about an average case which The Exodus Road funds in SE Asia, including estimated costs, by visiting this post HERE.
In India, we are finding that cases work more quickly and using less financial resources. Whereas in SE Asia, a case from investigations to raid may take several weeks to several months, in India our investigators document evidence of a victim and typically return the next day or the next week with police to raid the location. A typical case in India costs the team, from investigations through raid costs, a bit less than $1000 USD and typically results in the rescue of several victims.
21. Why is preference given to national investigators and organizations?
We believe the strongest agents for social change are nationals. The Exodus Road will not operate as “white saviors” but rather will remain a quiet force in the background empowering nationals to greater success in their own rescue efforts. By filling in the gaps, we want to supply local governments and foundations with the tools they need– whether it be equipment, funding, or training– to be successful at bringing greater justice to their own countries.
And while the majority of our funding will continue to support nationally-led investigative efforts, we will also continue to support the work of the foreign NGO community. We recognize that there is room for all of us in this fight.
23. There are many anti-trafficking organizations today. How is The Exodus Road different from the rest?
The crisis of modern day slavery is quickly gaining attention from a global audience. Because of this growing awareness, we are seeing an influx of nonprofits which fight human trafficking. This is deeply good, because the freedom of 27 million slaves is going to require the influence of more than a handful of individuals and organizations.
Generally speaking, anti-trafficking or freedom organizations typically fight slavery through 1} awareness and in prevention (business strategies, education, community development, etc.), 2} engaging in interventions, raids/rescues and prosecutions, or 3} caring for victims and rehabilitating them back into society. In addition to those potential differences in purpose, organizations can have a host of varying ideals and values.
It’s important to know that The Exodus Road focuses specifically on fueling undercover investigations and interventions. We are supporting teams on the ground who are actively involved in investigating and rescuing victims of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. This is our niche. We do this primarily through funding national investigators, through a lean administrative office (all of our staff are on full or partial financial support), through a strong value of collaboration between governments and NGO’s, and through strategically providing what investigative efforts need to rescue more victims.
In a field where so many are unsure of how to really help, we at The Exodus Road are fueling teams on the ground in the largest geographic area of modern day slavery in the world and equipping those frontline teams to find and rescue victims of sexual slavery and exploitation.
24. Do you host trips where I can come to the field and help?
Not right now. The focus of our organization is in undercover investigations, and we do not believe this is a field where most people can safely get “hands-on” experience. We are also a small nonprofit and do not have the staff needed to host teams or individuals in SE Asia or India. In addition, we are committed to protecting the privacy and the relationships we’ve built with our investigative team and feel that could be easily jeopardized if we begin inviting large numbers of foreigners to the field.
Having said that, we do believe that everyone has a valuable role to play in the freedom fight. Consider investigating other organizations that do specialize in hosting teams overseas or check out the bottom of this page where we list a number of way you can help support The Exodus Road.
25. Is The Exodus Road concerned about the legal prosecution or the rescue of a victim?
We believe that every girl or boy trapped in slavery deserves freedom. If we lose site of the value of the one, we lose a bit of our humanity and compassion. So, yes, our teams work hard to rescue and care for each individual, specifically by advocating for their placement into qualified after care facilities in our network.
We also recognize that the bigger-picture of trafficking must be battled within the legal systems of a local government. We understand that to slow the mechanisms of slavery, we must make it riskier and more expensive to buy and sell human beings. The primary way this is accomplished is via the local legal system. We know that for every brothel investigative efforts shut down, for every trafficker given prison time or large fines, we are working not only to rescue the girls in the brothels today, but the many more that could find themselves in that same brothel in future years.
26. What can I do to help?
There are countless ways you could support the rescue efforts of The Exodus Road. The following are a few:
Subscribe. The easiest way to stay connected with the work of The Exodus Road and its partners is to subscribe to our site/newsletter. It’s a free, simple way to not forget about us. You can enter your email on the sidebar or by clicking HERE.
Become a Blogger. This team writes stories from the field monthly and uses their social influence to fight slavery. You can read more about them and find an application HERE.
Give Financially. Fuel the efforts on the ground by committing to a monthly or one-time financial gift to The Exodus Road. You can also visit our site and help fund our latest project. Donate HERE.
Sponsor an Investigator. The monthly backbone of our efforts is in surveillance. With $35/month, you’ll be sending out a local trained investigator to gather intel on where victims of slavery are located. This is the first essential step in investigations. Learn more HERE.
Volunteer. We have a host of needs including social media campaigns, graphic artists, grant writers, web developers, undercover investigators (with military or police training), media production, and content writers to name a few. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what skills you’d like to donate.
Fundraise. Have an idea for a fundraiser you’d like to do on behalf of The Exodus Road? We’re open! Email us and spearhead a dinner, an event, a race, or a program to raise the funds to practically fight slavery. We’ll give you a project or funding goal and will supply you with updates from the field on specific needs and results of your donated funds.
Become a Church Ambassador. If you attend a faith community, consider bringing The Exodus Road to your church. Talk to a pastor, get a representative to speak at your gathering, organize an anti-trafficking group. Learn more HERE.
Intern. We are now looking for committed, quality interns (ages 20 and up) to work in our home office in Colorado. These will not be paid positions but could qualify you for college credit. If you are interested, email Laura at Laura@theExodusRoad.com.
Socially Invest. Share, share, share. You have influence within your own circle of friends and family; leverage it for rescue. Connect with us on facebook or twitter (@theExodusRoad) and personally invite others to do the same. Participate on our blog and share our posts and the posts of the other Exodus Road bloggers. Never underestimate the power of your voice.