Still Fighting

April 3, 2020

Despite the fact that many of our team are working remotely, we are still able to advocate for children, raise public awareness, and support trafficking survivors in both Thailand and America. 

We remain committed to our goals of reach and rescue. We do not see the current limitations, problems, or obstacles as constraints, but rather as pathways – to form new ways of doing things. Maybe even better ways.

According to psychologists, when you have less to work with, 
you actually begin to see the world differently.

At ZOE we choose to see the current constraints as advantages in disguise. We are asking ourselves, how can we use constraints to be creative and innovative in each of our jobs? How can these obstacles inspire better thinking? 

Through this indefinite time, we will find ways to use our resources differently because we have to. This situation is causing us to creatively plan, dream, and orchestrate ideas that would otherwise have remained untapped.

We remain steadfast in our determination to ensure that child trafficking is ended, justice brought, and lives rebuilt. While we are shifting the way we work and live worldwide, child trafficking has not gone away. In the face of the Covid19 virus, we will continue to fight! 

6 Steps to Keeping Your Child Safe Online During School Closures

April 1, 2020

With even more time at home and the increase in use of internet devices, it’s important that we help keep our children safe. If your child is using devices for online school, has a mobile device, or uses gaming systems, it’s time to have a conversation with your family about internet safety. 

Here are six practical steps you can take as a parent to help protect your child!

  1. Keep connected. It’s so important your child feels safe and connected to family members. The more connected and safe they feel with family, the more comfortable they will be to discuss issues, including issues they encounter online. In contrast, the more disconnected they feel from parents/family, things have potential to start becoming secretive, and they may seek affirmation, connection, and relationships outside of the home for that connection.

  2. Have open conversations with your child about the dangers of the internet and how to practice online safety. 
    SMART acronym is a great place to start! 
    S – Safe – Stay safe by keeping personal information private! Location, contact info, passwords etc.
    M – Meeting – Don’t meet in person with someone you met online! Tell your parents if you would like to meet with someone you met online.
    A – Accepting – Do not accept friend requests or follows from people you don’t know! Don’t accept files, images, or texts from unknown senders! These could be viruses or contain inappropriate content. 
    R – Reliable – People online are not reliable, and can easily lie about who they are. It’s best to reserve your trust for people you know. If you are messaging with someone online, make sure it is someone you know!
    T – Tell – If something makes you feel uncomfortable, be sure to tell a parent or trusted adult. Parents, it’s important that if your child chooses to share something with you, that you remain a safe place, without judgement or punishment. Then together, you can report any illegal or inappropriate activity.

  3. Work together with your child to establish internet guidelines. Don’t just give a list of “don’t do this or that,” have a conversation with your child, teaching them why. You may consider signing a contract with your child about the agreed upon rules for online use. We suggest covering these topics: 
    • What apps/sites can be visited? What apps and/or sites are off limits?
    • Where can they use their devices? Should they limit their internet use to general spaces?
    • Who needs to be present when they use the internet? Do they need parental supervision?
    • When and for how long can they be on their device? Do they need to limit screen time to certain hours/times of day

  4. Utilize parental controls to help monitor and protect online activity. Regularly check posts, messages, texts, etc. This part takes a bit of research in the beginning and continued upkeep, but it is important to help our children navigate internet usage.
    To help you in the start of your search, one field staff shared, “Even though I have been working in this area for years, I recall that when we started this process, it was quite overwhelming. It takes time for you to establish guidelines, time to find software that helps show their activity, and time for you to monitor and check-in with your child…  No matter what software you use, it is not set and forget! Initially we used the free version of Qustodio to help us set up simple daily time time limits. Apple also has great parental control software.” 

  5. If you notice behavior changes in your child, such as isolating themselves, becoming secretive about their phone, or wanting to spend more time in their room with a device, ask your child what’s going on, without judgement or punishment. 

  6. If you discover your child has been interacting with a potentially dangerous person or content, don’t panic! Be a safe place for your child. Break off contact — stop talking and stop replying. Criminal activity, including explicit photos or text messages, should be saved and taken to the police for investigation. Report any illegal activity to law enforcement.

Transport

March 25, 2020

When you think about ‘transport’ in Thailand, you possibly picture chaotic cities, thousands of motorbikes, tuk-tuks, songthaews, and traffic pollution. You might also imagine four-wheel drive trucks navigating red, dusty tracks, or unmade roads leading to hidden rice fields and villages.

Our ZOE staff and families experience the extremes of both these types of transportation conditions regularly. From school drop offs, fact finding, meetings with the Police, shopping trips, village outreaches, hospital check-ups, awareness campaigns, visits to relatives, school trips, court appearances, church on Sunday, property maintenance (the list goes on)…ZOE’s fleet of cars and trucks get a lot of use!

In fact, it takes a small team of people to oversee the vehicles and make sure they continue to be in good working order. This team manages the vehicle registrations, insurance, and service appointments. They also coordinate what vehicle will go where, according to the day of the week, destination, number of people travelling, etc. It takes a lot of organization. 

This month in Australia, our focus is not only on vehicle transport, but also on just how far your generous donations travel. Our monthly impact giving, helps ZOE to fund all the areas of greatest need. Transport is just one of those areas!

Instead of spending the month highlighting our fleet of cars and trucks (although some people might enjoy this) our social media channels in Australia will cover a broad range of trafficking related content that links in with the both theme of transport, and being transported – ‘moving from one place to another’.

Think beyond just getting from A to B because we want to cover: how transport is used in trafficking, how to spot trafficking in our travels, how trafficking continues to travel during covid-19, just how far ZOE will go to reach and rescue, and the emotional journey from victim to survivor – the restoration process – the child trafficking survivor stories that happen every day. Plus more! 

Join us on Australia’s Facebook and Instagram pages to keep up with this month’s theme Transport-ed and please leave us a comment on social media so we know who’s ‘travelling’ along with us! 

ZOE Australia Facebook  Instagram

Seeing Changes of Character

March 20, 2020

“Life skills are abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life” (WHO definition). 

Helping children develop essential life skills is a big part of the restoration process at ZOE. It takes us being very intentional! Swimming, doing chores, managing money, and using a computer are just some of the useful life skills we teach. But we also value teaching emotional skills such as problem solving, perseverance, managing feelings, and making connections. 

Recently some of our girls shared testimonies about how they had noticed within themselves that their emotional skills were increasing. 

We wanted to share a few of their testimonies with you. 

“From being aggressive and having a hot temper, I can now calm down faster and can control my emotions better.”  

I was lacking discipline in many areas but now I can take care of the duties assigned to me.”

Before I had no target now I have started setting goals, writing them down, and trying to hit them.” 

“I did not care about my outlook before. Now I have learned to dress properly. I do not want to go back to my old life and I now understand my value.”

ZOE helps children develop interpersonal skills by providing healthy and safe environments to interact with other people. Listening and speaking, as well as the ability to control and manage emotions, are essential parts of being in a family, and necessary for life. We are so encouraged when we see and hear the positive developments that are occurring in their lives through the process of restoration. 

Good Drivers

March 20, 2020

Shortly after I was married, I was tidying up the study one day when I came across a checklist that my husband had filled out about me, during a marriage course. It was a list of different personal skills and attributes wives have so, of course, it instantly caught my eye!

Being young and still in the honeymoon-stage of marriage, I was keen to know what my husband thought about me. Poor guy, he had filled it in with no intention that I would ever actually read it! 

I scanned the list and felt pretty good about what he had checked off about me…until my eyes fell upon the words “good driver” and there was no tick beside it! The discovery that day led to a follow up discussion…and many jokes over the years.

But strangely enough, that checklist (missing the good driver tick) has stuck with me for some twenty something years now. I always drive as carefully as I can in the hope that one day I might hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful driver” from my husband!

Well, funny driving stories aside, since our ZOE staff need to drive thousands of hours a year, we need them to be good drivers. They drive to school drop offs, meetings with the Police, shopping trips, village outreaches, hospital check-ups, awareness campaigns, visits to relatives, school trips, court appearances, church on Sunday, and many more destinations.

What you might not know is that ZOE has a driving program for staff to utilize on a needs basis. If a department requires another driver, they come and talk to Transportation. Depending on what level the person is at, they begin training. Some drivers have never driven a car before, and others have their driver’s license, but need more training or practice. Parallel parking is just one of the skills they practice to help prepare to be licensed and certified to drive for ZOE. 

We want all our staff drivers to get a big tick for being “good drivers” next to their name! 

Supporting Local Pastors

March 13, 2020

Through our partnership with Children’s Hunger Fund, we partner with Thai pastors to help them to reach their communities with the gospel.

One of our partners is Pastor Songkran. Songkran moved to a small village many years ago that did not have a church. He has been slowly reaching this community and the church has grown. During this time he also felt that he and his family were called to help children who didn’t have the opportunity to attend school. These are children from villages that don’t have schools and the families don’t have the money to put them into school.

Songkran and his family take in kids each year to allow them to go to school. They take on the responsibility of feeding the children and paying their school bills. This year, they have 19 children living with them. They have done all of this through faith and trusting that God will provide. This year through the donations from Usana and Children’s Hunger Fund, we were able to help Songkran.

We helped him by building and stocking two fish ponds, a frog pond, and a mushroom hut, and we planted mango trees. Songkran’s plan for the fish, frogs, mushrooms, and mangoes is well thought out. He will use a third of the produce to help feed the children living with his family. He will sell a third of the produce to help pay for the school fees for the children. He will give away the last third of the produce to those in need in his community. This is a great project to help a hardworking pastor who partners with ZOE.  

Instant Gratification & the Dangers of It

March 13, 2020

“A nice hot cup of tea would be nice,” I thought the other day while at work. Rather than going through all the trouble, I put a coin in the vending machine and out came my instant gratification.

It is beyond description how highly “convenience” is valued in our culture. You can get almost anything from vending machines, stores, and the Internet.

And this is what sex has become.

In Japan, you can scroll through your phone and select a girl to be delivered to your place in less than an hour. Pornographic sites are just a click away, easy even for a child to access.

Sex became such an accessible, disposable product in our culture. Like fast food, it’s ready for you as soon as you crave it. Such disposable consumption makes us grow numb to true satisfaction.

In the process of numbing our senses to the sacredness of sex, human trafficking begins to creep into our society. There are sex traffickers who dare to think that they are “helping” their victims by providing a job. There are even pedophiles who believe that they are “educating” children when they are horrifically abusing them.

A person does not become a sex trafficker overnight. It is through the process of devaluing sex and numbing their senses to true satisfaction that lead to exploitation of others for their selfish gains.

As long as society makes sex a convenient disposable product, vulnerable people and children will be objectified for exploitation and human trafficking will continue.

We must emphasize the importance of teaching the youth about the true value of sex. Because once it violates boundaries, it doesn’t stop. Sex is never a vending machine product that we purchase and dispose of on our way through life.

It is God’s beautiful design, meant to be cherished, protected, and sacredly valued as we see in the Bible.

This is an extremely important and urgent subject to teach especially young generations because they have the potential to become both victim and perpetrator.

At ZOE Japan, we have the opportunity to share a love and ultimate true satisfaction through Jesus Christ with a nation that is 1% Christian, shedding light that instant gratification will never fully satisfy our soul.

Little Kids Go to the ZOO

February 24, 2020

If you’re old like me, you might remember that Peter, Paul, and Mary song, “Going to the Zoo.”

Daddy’s takin’ us to the zoo tomorrow,
Zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow
Daddy’s takin’ us to the zoo tomorrow
And we can stay all day!

It was sung on school excursions, lengthy road trips, or during Music class. Looking back, it was one of those songs that seemed like it would never end! There was always another verse to sing and when you’d exhausted every animal, you could go right back to the start and sing, “Mommy’s taking us to the zoo tomorrow…” and it would all start again!

For most people, going to the zoo is a magical experience. Seeing magnificent creatures up close that you don’t normally see, experiencing the thrill of feeding them, hearing their unique sounds and of course appreciating God’s creativity in all the distinctive features of the animals.

Recently the younger children from our ZOE families had the privilege of visiting the zoo. They were able to read the descriptions about each animal, and observe each creature great and small in various environments. Our children smiled at the unusual, laughed at the playful, and stared in awe at the mighty elephants, hippos, and giraffes.

What an amazing opportunity to teach them more about God the Creator, and marvel at His works! The spots, the stripes, the patterns – every design is a reflection of His creativity. He made each creature from the smallest to the largest.

There is so much to be learned from visiting the zoo, but one important lesson we want our children to take away is that God made something even more spectacular than the animals when He made them! Out of all the creatures, He made man “in the image of God.”  Our hope is that through this experience, yes, they will see how amazing each animal is, but that they would also have a fresh revelation of how special they are!

By Andrea Cross

Newly Rescued Teen Girls Cry Being Able to Make Their Own Choices

February 20, 2020

By Ben Wood, Field Worker, Thailand

One day I was at the Child Rescue Center (CRC) for a meeting. Two girls had just arrived. They had only been at ZOE for about 30 minutes when they were taken to the ZOE “store” by one of our mothers. I was sitting at a distance and watched as both girls proceeded to sit down on the ground and cry. I didn’t know what was happening.

After about a minute of being comforted, they stood up and went into the store. I was curious why they were crying and walked over and asked the mother what was happening.

She told me that it was okay. That their tears were happy tears. They were moved by our love for them and allowing them to take whatever they needed from our store. They also told her that they felt honored that they weren’t being told what to do but instead they were given the power to make choices. 

At that moment, I was also moved to tears. I realized that our little store was more than just a room full of stuff but instead it was an opportunity for us to empower the children we rescue and to show them love as they start their restoration process.

Empowering Youth Who Can’t Read

February 14, 2020

Can you imagine working in a coffee shop or restaurant and relying purely on your memory for every order?  

What if you were unable to decipher the menu board, or even recognize the buttons on the Point of Sale cash register? 

Can you picture not being capable of decoding the labels on the different bags of coffee, or the name for each type of milk? Or not being able to read this blog post? I can’t. 

Having literacy skills is something that we often take for granted. We don’t usually remember the exact moment we learned to read, it seemed to just happen.

My only connection to try to understand what it might be like to not be able to read, is from the experience of moving to a foreign country. The first time I recognized a word on the menu, understood a sign that read, “no parking” and wrote my name in Thai – I remember! I was so proud… so excited!

For many of our rescued children, reading is not something they take for granted. It’s a real-life skill that is the difference between having a dream fulfilled and continuing to feel ashamed, useless, or unworthy. 

Recently our barista trainer, found herself reflecting more deeply on the words, “We offer vocational training since many of the children we rescue are behind in or struggle in school, so this gives them practical education to open doors for the future.” Words she had said many times before, but this day she had a greater understanding. And the reality of her words hit her like a ton of bricks. 

Here she was working with precious teenagers that actually couldn’t read. But through vocational training and education, ZOE was helping by opening up new possibilities, instilling new dreams, and equipping them to accomplish the goals they carried in their hearts. 

It is the reason why we’re not just about “rescue.” What chance would these teenagers have if we only rescued and didn’t equip? 

Did you know that last year we were unable to provide aftercare services for 30 girls whose rescues we had assisted in? Due to lack of resources, we simply couldn’t take them into our rescue center.

We need your help. Not just to rescue, but to give these children a chance to read, learn, and grow. 

Would you help us by becoming a monthly donor for ZOE? Click here to become a monthly supporter in USA, Australia, Thailand or Japan.

Everlasting Love

February 11, 2020

By Oratai Saisingtong, ZOE Thailand Director

It’s a ZOE tradition now that every New Year’s eve, each person picks out a Bible verse to meditate on for the entire year. Some people might think, “It’s just one verse, it doesn’t mean much!” But, just as in past years, we know that God uses many opportunities to speak, and get the attention of our children. 

This year one of our children picked out this Bible verse: 
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” 

During our meeting, the boy told with excitement that he received this Bible verse. And, he was excited to realize that God spoke to him. He went on to explain that he had constantly said that no one loved him or cared for him. But, now he is confident that God loves him! 

It touched our hearts to see that God spoke right to his heart. God has entrusted these children to us but it is so encouraging when we see that they recognize His voice speaking to them!  
At times when children struggle, it is such a comfort to see God reassuring us that His covering is over these children. His love iseverlasting. He is faithful, and we are not doing this work alone!