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Archives for March 2019

March 26, 2019 - No Comments!

ZOE Recognizes Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month

By Jessicah Ray, PA & Concussion SpecialistTraumatic Brain Injury Awareness for Survivors of Human Trafficking

Much advancement has been accomplished in the recognition of the comprehensive and trauma-informed health needs for survivors of human trafficking. However, publications and guidelines have yet to consistently include the consideration for traumatic brain injury (TBI) assessment and care. This can be a critical miss due to the high rate of abuse and secondary risk of head injuries in this population. In fact, over 92% of survivors of sex trafficking reported suffering from physical violence with most from direct blows to the head or face (Chisolm-Straker & Stoklosa, 2017). Such a high statistic is astonishing considering violence and abuse statistics are constantly underreported.

TBI research has confirmed that children and females are at increased risk of prolonged recovery from traumatic brain injuries. But unlike the general population, human trafficking victims are even more likely to not only sustain multiple TBIs, but also to not recover well from them because of the continued abuse and risk factors. Recovery from TBI is dependent on head injury education, proper rest, gradual return to activity, supportive care, healthy lifestyle choices, and access to medical care when needed.

However, survivors of human trafficking experience barriers in all these TBI recovery respects due to:·       High risk of sustaining multiple TBIs·       No opportunity to recover between injuries·       No available emotional support·       Little access to education or healthcare·       Forced to return to work immediately

·       At risk of malnutrition, substance abuse, and anxiety disorders

The real danger is that without proper diagnosis of TBI, the TBI remains untreated and many of the common symptoms of chronic TBI may be misattributed to other diagnoses.  These TBI symptoms include memory difficulty, disorganized thinking, headaches, anxiety, insomnia, dizziness, vision problems, hormone changes, and in cases of children - developmental problems. Many of these symptoms can be mislabeled as secondary to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, personality disorders, addiction, or even behavioral problems. Misdiagnosis can also lead to new problems from the wrong treatment choice worsening the untreated TBI symptoms.

The great news is that treating TBI can reduce these symptoms and the recovery time, even if the head injuries were multiple and occurred years ago. In fact, because victims of abuse often have both TBI and PTSD, treating one often improves symptoms of the other. That is, treating the TBI can improve the PTSD, and vice versa. Most current evidence-based treatment recommendations for TBI, PTSD, and survivors of human trafficking endorse multi-disciplined trauma-informed care. Therefore there is a promising opportunity to integrate TBI assessment and treatment into health management recommendations for survivors of human trafficking, and we can be encouraged to use TBI care as a targeted way to enhance the recovery and quality of life of this vulnerable  population.References: Chisolm-Straker, M., & Stoklosa, H. (Eds.). (2017). Human Trafficking Is a Public Health Issuehttps://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47824-1

March 25, 2019 - No Comments!

Imagining Happiness

ZOE Thailand
By Andrea Cross

It was the last day of the art exhibition. One of our ZOE young adults had her final pieces of artwork displayed, along with the rest of her graduating Arts cohort.

The odds were against my husband and I making it; one of our children had a badly broken leg, another wasn’t feeling well, but we knew we wanted to go encourage, and celebrate, this gifted young woman who we have known and watched grow up over the past nine years.

Rushing and feeling a little disheveled, we set off.

As we arrived at the gallery, we saw her waiting. Her face lit up as she spotted us - filling our hearts with joy. This girl really is special.

We had watched her transition from living with her family at ZOE, towards  independence. We had seen her learn to ride a motorcycle, begin university, practice English, cook and manage a budget. We had met her university friends and admired many of their art projects, scattered around the transitional home. We’d watched her settle into her first dormitory room, but also seen the love she exhibited for her family and noticed the times she longed to be around people and her desire to remain connected.

This day was a momentous occasion and reason to reflect on just how far she’d come.

Of course, we wanted to go straight to her work and see what she had produced but her humble, sweet nature meant that she began showing off her peer’s art displays first.

As she led us around the gallery, I was filled with shock and amazement at how good the artwork was. I could not believe that these pieces were actually created by university students. Piece by piece we marveled and stood admiring the time, effort, and detail that was obvious in each different style of artwork.

That’s when we arrived at hers. “Imagining Happiness.”

Upon close inspection, we inquired as to what she had used to create her art pieces. There were five in total.

She told us that she had crushed egg shells and dyed them all different colors and then stuck each tiny piece in place to create the pictures. She explained that she didn’t have as big a budget to spend on her pieces as some of her peers. She needed to be resourceful as well as creative in her pursuit of producing her final art project. I mused that she must’ve eaten a lot of eggs but she told us that she had collected egg shells from wherever she could, including ZOE.

I really love to see things upcycled, recycled, and reused for a different purpose. It’s partly the way I have been raised but I also believe it’s God’s heart for us. Something once seen as waste, thrown out, not needed - He takes those. He repurposes them, He makes something new.

And here we were staring at these beautiful plaques that she had hand crafted but that also symbolized to us how God really can turn our lives around. He takes the parts that are broken and discarded and He pieces them together, maybe not how they were originally, but He makes something new and even more beautiful.

It is a process that takes time to piece together and carefully position. In the hands of the Creator though, He can transform us into something different, stronger, and better than before.

March 20, 2019 - 1 comment.

3 Reasons to Celebrate

ZOE Thailand
By Michael Hart

This month, ZOE’s founder Michael Hart shares 3 stories which show why the recent school graduations are cause for such celebration in Thailand.  

It was an extra hot day of 95 F (35 C) when 8 of our ZOE 6th graders graduated on March 12th. In addition to the heat, the air quality was at extremely dangerous levels over 300 AQI. Many of the locals stayed indoors that day or wore filtering masks in order to be protected from the hazy pollution created by the burning fields and forest fires. Yet this outside graduation would not be stopped. It was a time of celebration despite the foreboding elements. These 8 children have had previously experienced atrocities in their young lives that none of us can imagine. Yet, here they stood for over 3 hours in the sun and smoke, without protection, smiling away and enjoying their day of victory. We cheered them on and hugged them, telling them how much we loved them and were so proud of them for their achievements. It was not the weather we remember, but it was looking at them and beholding what God has done in their lives that captured our attention. God is truly “The Father to the fatherless.”

On March 15th, four of our sweet ZOE girls graduated from 6th grade at a different school. We thank God for their school because it is one of the few Christian schools in Thailand, where less than 1% of the nation are followers of Christ. Their school understands the backgrounds of many of ZOE’s children and for years have worked with us in helping to restore them. Education is an important part of preventing and ending child trafficking. These 4 girls were taught all the regular school subjects but in a Christian context. In addition, their school taught them many Thai historical and cultural skills. We think this is great for children to learn more about their own culture and to celebrate their national identity. It was a joy to see their proud smiles and to congratulate them for their achievements.

Also on March 15th, we arrived at 3pm in the hot sun and smoky air to celebrate the 12th graduation of one of our ZOE teenage girls. We were told that we would be able to meet the students for a photo at 3:30 pm. Instead the 300 graduates were escorted straight to their seats while the parents, friends, and families waited until the ceremony was over. Finally, after 6pm the festivities took a pause, so we could see our girl and congratulate her. She was so excited that we were present for her, because she did not have parents to greet her peers. Her ZOE mom lavished her with praise, while the rest of us hugged her and gave her gifts. After that, it was photo time. We stood by her and surrounded her for pictures, helping her experience that she was the most important person on earth in that moment. She graduated with a degree in Tourism, which will empower her to be able to take care of herself in a sustainable career. We are so proud of all our kids and thank God for His loving grace that He showers upon them. All great reasons to celebrate!

March 19, 2019 - No Comments!

Can You Stop Trafficking in Your Travels?

By Andrea Cross

Increased Awareness
Awareness is one of the greatest weapons against human trafficking. When airport, taxi, Uber, hotel, convenience store, truck stop, rest area, welcome center, job center, and emergency room staff are aware about the signs of trafficking they are better equipped to recognize when they have contact with both victims and perpetrators of human trafficking. As more people become aware, the better the chance of stopping human trafficking and impacting the lives of millions around the world.

The United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that 42% of victims were detected from outside of their borders. This makes places like airports, bus stations, and train stations, prime locations to spot human trafficking. (CBTravel)

Globally
Around the globe, the fight against human trafficking is bringing multiple partners together in unprecedented ways to combat the evil of modern day slavery.

Michael Hart, CEO of ZOE International, reflected on his experience with partnering across public and private sectors by saying, “Together as the good guys, let’s fight; and together, as the good guys, we are destined to win.”

ZOE International, has been combating human trafficking on the ground for 15 years in Southeast Asia and is active in Thailand, Japan, Australia, Mexico, and the United States.

Know the signs
ZOE has a short video that explains the signs to look for to protect yourself and others. Watch it here!

What to do
If you do suspect a case of trafficking or you see someone in danger please use the following country numbers to notify authorities:

America:
National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1 (888) 373-7888 or Text “HELP” to 233733

Thailand:
National Human Trafficking Hotline: 1300
Or call the ZOE Child Rescue Team 0801 318 108

Australia:
Australian Federal Police on 131AFP (131237) or email AOCC-Client-Liaison@afp.gov.au

Japan:
Polaris Japan: 0120-924-839
Lighthouse Center for Human Trafficking Victims: 0120-879-871
Yorisoi Hotline Helpline for Foreigners: 0120 279 338

Mexico:
National Helpline Against Trafficking in Persons: 5533-5533

Airline Industry
The Airports Council International has produced a free “Combatting Human Trafficking Handbook” for its staff along with other companies within the travel industry such as Grab and various hotel chains, who have also begun training their workers on what to look out for in regards to identifying a trafficking victim.

Taxi Drivers
What is the first thing most travelers do when they leave an airport? That’s right, look for a taxi - or maybe even get an Uber or a Grab.
Drivers who "often unwittingly become the first point of contact for traffickers or victims, at airports or bus terminals" may prove to be very helpful in the detection of criminal activity.”

Individual Travelers
From the moment travelers leave their homes, they can be on the lookout for signs of trafficking within airports, at stations, and all around them. Travelers, cross paths with all walks of life on business trips and when traveling for leisure. When made aware of how to identify suspicious behavior, they could be able to help put a stop to trafficking attempts.

Sight Magazine recently reported, "From airlines to hotels, the travel industry is on the front line of the fight against trafficking.”

March 19, 2019 - No Comments!

Can we build it? Yes, we can!

ZOE Thailand

By Brandon Kim

A few months ago it was brought to our vocational teacher’s attention that when working on computers, the students’ posture could be improved with the correct ergonomics. This led to a search for the right monitor stand but ended with the conclusion, “We could make one just like that for 1/6 of the price,” and, “DIY projects are way more fun!”

Since that time, students have been building their confidence using the power tools necessary for any basic woodworking job and, more recently, have learned the technical skills of mechanical drafting and computer-based 3D modeling.

At the beginning of this month, with instructional support from trainers, the students drafted a design for a monitor stand by hand, created it using SketchUp, and then crafted it to specification. Though fairly simple, the construction process also allowed them to experiment with various jointing and finishing techniques. All in all, the students built eight matching stands and were thus inspired to create their own custom designs for larger full-sized tables.

March 12, 2019 - No Comments!

The Day ZOE Changed My Life

ZOE Australia
By Mark Easton

My first contact with ZOE was in 2013 when I met David Cross while on a mission trip to Chiang Mai with my son’s school. David told the group the story of Moses, the first man to try and abolish slavery. In Exodus 4 Moses, confused and overwhelmed, tries to convince God that he has nothing to offer that can help to free the Israelites from slavery but God asks him “What is that in your hand?”

I knew just how Moses felt. I really felt I had little to offer in the way of practical help and was confused about why I had agreed to go on this mission trip in the first place. But David’s retelling of Moses’ commission made me ask the same question that Moses had been asked: what was in my hand that I could use to help?

My skills are as a writer. I have written or contributed to about forty books that are used by teachers and students throughout Australia in their study of history and geography. Each day tens of thousands of high school children read what I have written. I knew before David had finished speaking that this is why God had brought me to Thailand. This is what is in my hand! All I had to do was to convince David.

Fortunately God put me on a work party at ZOE for the next few days and David and I found ourselves working side by side as bricklayers. Over many laughs and questionable bricklaying we eventually worked out that we were the answer to each other’s prayers. God had brought a writer and a missionary together.

Six months later, the curriculum was written, published online, presented at a teachers’ conference in Melbourne and was already being used in Australian schools to educate the next generation about child trafficking and the awesome work that ZOE is doing in Thailand. So now I ask you the same question that God asked Moses: “What is that in YOUR hand?

March 11, 2019 - No Comments!

Longing for Home

ZOE International
By Lori-Ann Tsang

I’ve been contemplating the concept of “home” lately. What are ways we try to make a place feel more like home? In thinking about the structure and physical building itself, unless you are an architect or a builder, your first chance at this happens after the structure has been built and is completed. We bring in furniture, plants, rugs, shelves, and other personal belongings to help us feel at home.  

Long before any plans were drawn up or the first brick was laid for our ZOE home in Thailand, our leaders, planning team, and architects began thinking about this concept of “home.” They knew the building itself would need to be unique and special because of its purpose. It would be place where children rescued from human trafficking could feel safe, secure, and loved…a place they could call home.

The inside is beautiful and very livable!! I love the layout and the building very much. I want a house like this of my own, someday!"

~ Recently rescued youth about ZOE Thailand’s Child Rescue Center

So much planning, prayer, and preparation goes into the building of every structure on each ZOE campus. It is done with love and care, knowing that it will have a far-reaching impact on the precious children who come through the doors.

This reminds me that we have a perfect home being prepared for us. One that is beyond our wildest dreams. “... looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10, NIV).

Find out more about our newest HOME being built in LA: https://gozoe.org/our-work/los-angeles/

March 5, 2019 - 1 comment.

Corn, Glorious Corn!

ZOE Thailand

By Andrea Cross

With so many different departments and areas within ZOE Thailand, it could be easy to overlook this one because it predominantly happens “behind the scenes.” It is definitely not unimportant though because so much time, effort, and research is spent making sure the most effective processes are in place. This week we wanted to take the time to highlight just one example of the many situations our Agricultural Team need to work through on a regular basis.  Recently they reached a decision regarding - CORN!

Every year, ZOE needs to acquire a significant amount of corn to help offset the cost of food for the pig farm.  In the past, corn has been grown and harvested at ZOE, however, after doing some in-depth cost analysis, it was discovered that corn could be bought at a lower overall cost than producing it ourselves.  

The Agricultural Team wanted to find out the reason for this and it came down to these main factors. The first one was that the land that had been used to grow the corn wasn’t big enough to produce all the corn ZOE needed. There was a shortfall in corn produced, which meant buying extra pig food commercially, which added a large cost. The other factor was that by buying it in bulk, a lot of man-hours were saved, meaning the Agricultural Team could accomplish more in other areas, using the same amount of time.

So, how much corn are we talking about here? This year, ZOE ordered 15,000 kilograms of corn directly from corn farmers (or 33,000 pounds). The cost was about 4,700 USD. And this corn is used purely to supplement the pig’s meals and ensure they have a well balanced diet. They also get significant amounts of bananas and papayas (grown at ZOE) in addition to commercial pig food, rice, and of course scraps from the kitchen!