Category "Education"

ZOE Australia Works to Bring Awareness to Human Trafficking

March 21, 2022

In Australia, it is estimated that for every victim of modern slavery who is detected, four victims go undetected.  In addition to this, the number of cases involving children reported is low when compared to other countries.

In Australia, child abuse and the spread of child abuse material is on the rise as more Australians access the dark web with Police reporting ‘a disturbing increase in Australians downloading and sharing illegal images (or children) during the coronavirus lockdown period.’

ZOE Australia is expanding our awareness and education in 2022 with plans to increase our school and community prevention programs.  ZOE Australia needs more staff to join us, so that we can work holistically to increase understanding of the problem of child trafficking in Australia. We know that as we enhance our prevention work, there will be an increase of victims identified and this will enable ZOE to provide restorative support services for children and their families in the future.

 

ZOE Australia Celebrates its Ten-Year Anniversary

ZOE Foundation Australia (ZFA) was established in 2011 and is part of the global movement of ZOE International. Last year ZOE Australia celebrated its ten-year anniversary. It was not possible to do an event due to the restrictions from Covid. The team chose to send out a candle as a symbol. The inscription on the candle read:

You have brought light into some of the darkest places imaginable and we want to take a moment to show you our gratitude for your support over the past 10 years.

As you light this candle, let it remind you what you have been a part of.

You have helped to prevent, rescue and restore children’s lives. And for that, we say thank you.

ZOE Mexico Brings Life to Children and Families

March 21, 2022

Six-year-old Juan* and seven-year-old Monica* live with their 24-year-old mom. Their home life involves violence, abuse, and extreme poverty. Their father is an alcoholic and works in a very poorly paid job in Mexico as a distributor of tortilla dough.

“Juan and Monica attend E-kids Global School,” said Mariela Ambrosio, ZOE Mexico Director. ZOE Mexico has partnered with E-kids Global School to provide free education for children who are at risk of human trafficking. “In only a few months, they have shown great interest in learning, and their lifestyle at home has changed.”

Their mother appreciates that now her children can go to school. She expressed her gratitude to us and said, “I no longer worry about what they are going to have for breakfast or lunch tomorrow.” 

Juan and Monica have received psychological and medical help at E-Kids Global School, and every day they show more affection with the other children. 

At ZOE, we believe every child should experience the abundant life Christ died for them to have. We are grateful to love and care for families just like Juan and Monica through the E-Kids Global School.

*Pseudonym: ZOE protects the identity and dignity of children and does not share actual names or show trafficked children’s faces.

 

ZOE Mexico Prevention Campaign

The ZOE Mexico team has been working diligently to provide sexual abuse prevention and awareness training, workshops, and conferences to select churches in Mexico. 

“In coordination with ‘Protect Me Project,’ the ZOE Mexico team researched and located churches in highly marginalized areas that we could work with,” said Mariela Ambrosio, ZOE Mexico Director. “Our team has been sharing with pastors and leaders of these churches the importance of being aware of the different strategies used by internet traffickers. Some of these activities included videos and interaction with muppets for children, interactive talks with teenagers and young people, and prevention talks for parents. It is our desire for these pastors and leaders to direct people who need advice on prevention issues to the ZOE Mexico team and provide support to all those interested in knowing more about Jesus.”

ZOE’s Advocacy Program in Los Angeles

November 2, 2021
Through ZOE’s Advocacy Program in Los Angeles, we serve children and families who have been impacted by human trafficking or highly at risk of trafficking. We are so thankful for our amazing partners who provide opportunities and experiences for the children we serve. Recently, ZOE partnered with New Dawn Foundation to provide an experience with horses, which has been found to be therapeutic and healing for survivors of trauma and trafficking.
Most of the teens were excited to walk the ponies, pet and brush them, and even guide them through obstacles. Later, the group had time to process what everyone was feeling and thinking.
In one instance, a teen was hesitant to engage. A pony continued to walk over to her, brush up against her, trying to get her attention. Eventually, the teen pet it gently and participated in the next activity. At the end of the day, the youth whispered:
“I loved it.”
If you would like to learn more about how you can be a part of the healing and restoration of the children ZOE serves, contact info@gozoe.org.

Australians Respond to Modern-day Slavery

September 17, 2021

ZOE Australia has been working hard to communicate that awareness, education, and support make a difference in seeing children rescued, loved, restored, and healed!

“Our Pathways to Preventing Child Trafficking course equips Australians to respond to modern-day slavery spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, and pragmatically,” said David Cross, ZOE Australia Director. “We have nearly 60 students currently enrolled in the online course. We believe that our toolkits help bring awareness to various industries and social-action groups. For faith-based communities we have prayer-based guides which focus on God’s heart for the fatherless. By using ZOE’s curriculums, toolkits, and guides, individuals, groups, and whole communities better understand the problem of human trafficking and work to change their actions towards others – whether directly or indirectly.” ZOE Australia

What is Human Trafficking?

April 14, 2021

        You may have heard about “human trafficking” in the news, from social media, or maybe even from someone you know. But what is it exactly? How and where does it happen? How does someone become a victim? And who are the traffickers? How can you help? Although human trafficking is a complex issue with many layers, we hope to answer some questions you may have that can encourage you to want to learn more.

Girl lonely on a bed

“Human trafficking” is a crime that involves forcing, defrauding (deceiving), or coercing (pressuring or threatening) someone to provide labor or commercial sexual acts. According to the International Labour Organization, there are currently an estimated 40.3 million human trafficking victims worldwide, including forced marriages. Exploiters profit off of the forced labor and forced sex of victims.

How Does Human Trafficking Happen?

A person may be offered an exciting job in a different country, only to find themselves arriving to the other country, having their passport taken, forced to work under dangerous conditions doing completely different work than expected, and told they have to pay off the debt of their travels, housing, and visa before they begin to earn any income. This is labor trafficking. In another scenario, a woman may be romanced by an attractive man who showers her with gifts, attention, and “love,” only to isolate her from her family and friends; begin to verbally, emotionally, physically, and sexually abuse her; and pressure her to provide sexual acts for money in order for them to make ends meet. This is sex trafficking.

What About Child Trafficking?

feet of child in sandals walking in dirty place

Globally, 1 in 4 victims of human trafficking are estimated to be children. “Child trafficking” involves selling a child for labor or sex. When children are involved, force, fraud, or coercion do not have to be proven for it to be considered trafficking, as children cannot consent to being abused. A family friend may offer to move a child from their remote village to the city to attend a good school, but upon arrival, the child may be abused for sex in a brothel. Or a child may be invited to run away from a group home by an older friend and taken care of by someone the older friend knows, only to be told they owe what has been provided to them and now have to go on the street or to a motel and provide sexual services for money that is paid to the trafficker.

 

What are the Psychological implications of human trafficking?

Girl sitting on stairs outside

While victims of trafficking can be kidnapped, drugged, and forced into exploitation, many are psychologically groomed and manipulated into making them feel like they have chosen the life and circumstances they are in, not realizing they have been targeted because of their need or desire for food, money, clothing, housing, drugs, love, or friendship in order to be exploited.

Traffickers target the vulnerabilities of individuals, especially in their greatest time of need in order to profit off of them. How different could the outcome be if in crisis, the person met a safe person who wants to help them instead of someone who wants to make money off of them?

What About Labor Trafficking?

Man working in field

Labor trafficking can occur in industries like agriculture, food, domestic work, and entertainment, while sex trafficking can occur in pornography, massage businesses, and escort services on the street, in hotels, in homes, and on the internet.

Who becomes a human trafficker?

Traffickers can be part of organized crime networks, friends or family, gang members, intimate partners, employers, and business owners. But traffickers can also be victims of violence and abuse themselves, sometimes groomed to become exploiters by those close to them.

What can I do about Human Trafficking?

While all of this information is overwhelming and the problem is daunting, we as individuals and communities can be part of the solution by:

  • Protecting ourselves and our loved ones by being safe people for them to seek help from when they are in unsafe situations
  • Educating ourselves about the signs of trafficking and asking questions and offering support if we are seeing signs of someone who may be in unsafe situations
  • Raising awareness about trafficking with our personal networks
  • Educating ourselves about internet safety and monitoring the internet usage of the young ones in our lives
  • Donating time, professional skills, or financial support to local organizations who are helping survivors of trafficking
  • Learning about becoming a foster parent to children who need a safe home
  • Advocating for someone to share about human trafficking at your child’s school, church, community group, business
  • Reporting suspected trafficking to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888

 

ZOE International is committed to ending child trafficking through prevention, rescue, and restoration efforts throughout the world. To learn more, visit gozoe.org.

 

Love-less Love Hotels

January 28, 2021

Japan is notorious for its sex industry, more often referred to as the adult entertainment industry. All major train stations are surrounded by izakaya (a Japanese traditional bar), hostess bars, karaoke venues, and Love Hotels. Sadly, these “Love Hotels” promise everything but love.

 

Love hotels offer customers elaborately decorated rooms that can be booked for anything from one hour to multiple days. All kinds of sexual toys, cosplay clothing, food, and accessories can be ordered for room delivery without ever encountering any hotel staff face-to-face. Even the check-in process is completely contactless in order to protect the privacy of customers. An article on May 12th in Japan Today reports that the demand for this so-called “love” did not decline with the COVID-19 pandemic, but instead has increased in suburban areas.

 

Regrettably, these hotels are not frequented by married couples looking for a romantic getaway, but instead are often used to exploit women and children or engage in extramarital affairs. It is even considered a common and acceptable business practice for business colleagues to go to an izakaya for drinking after work, followed by karaoke in a hostess bar, finally leading for a Love Hotel for a few hours before catching the last train home. If only we could stand on the rooftops of these hotels and shout out: THIS IS NOT LOVE!  

 

The Bible teaches us about real love:  

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13

 

In a recent case:

in the Machida/Yokohama area, a 10-year old girl was groomed through TikTok by a 34-year old perpetrator. Excited to meet her new online friend face-to-face, the young girl was probably surprised to find that he was an adult male that had more than friendship in mind. Already familiar with her school name and home address, it was easy for him to threaten and manipulate the frightened child to accompany him to a Love Hotel where he sexually assaulted her. If only we could’ve accelerated our prevention efforts and ensured that the hotel staff were trained to identify and report this trafficking case before the abuse could take place.  We could’ve saved this child from the guilt, shame, and fear that she had to suffer! This is just one of many cases that happen daily in Japan.

 

There are several ways that you can partner with us to stop the exploitation at Love Hotels. Firstly, make sure that the children you have contact with are aware of the dangers of grooming through social media. Secondly, pray for ZOE Japan as we work with various stakeholders to call for stricter regulation over the Love Hotel industry, including mandatory training for hotel staff and the availability of awareness and prevention materials in hotels to provide information to potential victims. Thirdly, consider a one-time or ongoing donation to ZOE Japan so that we can expand and accelerate our prevention efforts.

 

May those who purchase services at Love Hotels and the staff discover the TRUE LOVE of Jesus and invite Him into their lives to fill the void in their hearts and set them free!

 

Author:

Annerie Van Wyk, ZOE Japan Missionary

Cuties and the Exploitation of Children

October 20, 2020

On August 19, 2020, Netflix began promoting a French film called Cuties, which was set for worldwide release on September 9, 2020. The film (originally called Mignonnes) by French Senegalese director Maïmouna Doucouré and Netflix’s marketing campaign brought about worldwide criticism, petitions to remove the film from Netflix, and campaigns to #cancelNetflix due the public’s concerns that the film promotes the sexualization and commercial sexual exploitation of children and appeals to the appetites of pedophiles.

On September 23, 2020, a grand jury indicted Netflix for the “promotion of lewd visual material depicting a child.”

Although Doucouré has stated that her intention was “to show that our children should have the time to be children, and we as adults should protect their innocence and keep them innocent as long as possible,” in the making and promoting of the film, young girls were exploited in the process and continue to be exploited every time someone views the film. The lead actress is just 11 years old.

Legal Exploitation

Imagery in films like these normalize the sexualization of children and are legal forms of online child sexual exploitation. Individuals and companies are profiting from the exploitation of children in this film. Exploiters can easily take images and videos from this film and upload them to sites profiting from commercialized sexual abuse imagery of children. In addition, with children watching films like these, they are being exposed to and influenced by sexualized behaviors and media representations of children.

Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM)

As a society, we need to take a stand and draw the line against media imagery that fuels the demand for the commercial sexual exploitation of children. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), their CyberTipline has received over 65 million reports of the online exploitation of children, 312 million images and videos have been reviewed, and over 18,900 victims have been identified by law enforcement. NCMEC further reports that survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) “speak to the long-lasting damage and impact of their images and videos being circulated on the internet.

Subscription-based Services

The lack of control of both the files’ existence and circulation leaves the survivors struggling in their recovery.” In 2018, “teen” was one of the Top 10 search terms from the most consumed pornographic website. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that “[s]ome child traffickers adjusted to the reluctance of buyers to meet in-person to engage in commercial sex. Some traffickers are now offering options for subscription-based services in which buyers pay to access online images and videos of the child.”

The sexual abuse imagery of children exists because there is a demand for it. Let us fight to protect the dignity of children, especially in media, imagery, and the internet.

How I See Myself

September 23, 2020

Age-related long sightedness is considered a normal part of getting old. As someone in their 40s, who is realizing that small text is increasingly getting harder to focus on, I am well aware that by the age of 45 many people need reading glasses.

Thankfully though, needing reading glasses does not impact the way that I am learning to see myself. It takes focusing on the truth to see the inner me – the way God sees me – and this type of sight has no age limit or restriction. But it does take some practice!

children looking at a mapRecently I had the opportunity to share about this topic with the teens at the ZOE Learning Center. Through many different activities, from looking through different lenses and objects, to examining different perspectives, we learned that there was often more than just one way to look at something.

Although everyone’s life story is different, there are many things that we all have in common.

  • At different points in our lives, we all face setbacks.
  • When we face setbacks we have choices about how we respond.
  • We all have a choice to see ourselves through our own eyes, or through God’s eyes.
  • We all have a choice about whether we listen to lies or truth about who we are.

By recognizing that there is often a mismatch in the way we see ourselves compared to how God sees us, we can choose which lens to look through. I don’t know about you, but for me, the way He sees me is a much nicer view! When God looks at me He sees a beautiful creation, no mistake, chosen, wanted, loved, forgiven. And I must admit sometimes (more often than I care to admit) that’s not the way I see myself.

Children looking through city imagesThere are many life lessons that I learn through nature. And the aloe vera plant is one example of something that has taught me a lesson this year. Aloe vera is one of those things that I have growing in various parts of my garden. It sprouts up easily and seems to thrive almost anywhere. To be honest, I used to just see it more like a weed than anything special until I learned and understood how amazing it really is  From being good for your skin, your hair, pimples, itchy bites, sunburn, even in smoothies. it’s really quite incredible.

Children listening to a Woman team member teach Sometimes we might feel like a weed, pushed aside, unwanted, useless, out of place in a garden of more beautiful plants, but God doesn’t see us like that. He sees us as amazing. And the aloe vera plant reminds me to see myself, and others, in the same way He does!

child looking at Where's Waldo book

By Andrea Cross

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.

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.

Theory to Practice

January 21, 2020

By Brandon Kim, Vocational Training Manager

As the goal of our vocational training program, we often talk about moving from “trit-sa-dii” (Thai word for “theory”) to “bpa-dti-bat” (Thai word for “practice”). To this end we have always looked for opportunities to gain experience in authentic settings outside the four walls of the classroom and extend learning to new arenas. So, we were overjoyed that three amazing organizations came alongside ZOE to support our students in this endeavor.

A popular coffee house near the center of town agreed to train two youth in the areas of food preparation and service, and has continued to allow them to intern there three times a week through January. A beauty shop owner has opened her doors to teach one student hairdressing and manicure techniques, and a well-known language school has accepted three of our students into an intensive 10-week English course. 

In addition, we believe that quality time spent together with successful Thai Christian business owners will be invaluable in widening and extending their view of “work.” One student already asked after the first day if she can continue training after she leaves ZOE! Well one thing we know for sure is that God has a great plan and purpose for them that they are only just beginning to discover!

Human Trafficking Myths

January 8, 2020

As we share about human trafficking this month, we realize that many people may have false ideas or misconceptions about what human trafficking looks like. Which is why we are going to talk about five common myths related to human trafficking.

Myth #1: Human trafficking only occurs in developing countries, not the United States. 
Truth: Human trafficking is a global epidemic. It occurs in cities and suburbs all across America. It has been reported in all 50 states. In a study published in 2017, it was estimated that there were about 403,000 victims of human trafficking in the United States. (International Labour Organization, 2017)

Myth #2: Victims are always kidnapped. 
Truth: Though some victims may be kidnapped, it is not the only way people are trafficked. Many traffickers use online grooming to build trust with victims. Many are trafficked by close family friends, relatives, or boyfriends. In 2017, 14.4% of active criminal labor and sex trafficking cases involved defendants who trafficked their children, spouses, intimate partners, siblings, and other family members. (Federal Human Trafficking Report, 2018) 

Myth #3: Human trafficking involves people being physically trapped or chained.
Truth: While some victims are physically and violently held against their will, many are psychologically manipulated, threatened, and trapped in commercial exploitation. A victim’s inability to get away could also be due to lack of resources or a safe place to live. 

Myth #4: Only women are trafficked.
Truth: Though women are disproportionately affected by forced labor, men are also victims of human trafficking. According to a 2017 study, women account for 99% of victims in the commercial sex industry, and 58% in other sectors. (International Labour Organization, 2017)

Myth #5: All commercial sex is human trafficking.
Truth: Commercial sex involving an adult is legally human trafficking if the person is doing so against their own will, as a result of force, fraud, or coercion. Under U.S. law, any minor under the age of 18 years induced into commercial sex is a victim of sex trafficking — regardless of whether or not the trafficker used force, fraud, or coercion. (Polaris Project, 2020)