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All Posts in Education

January 31, 2019 - No Comments!

Hospitality Training

ZOE Thailand

By Lori Ortenzi

Girls studying at ZOE’s Learning Center began a 6-week Hospitality Course recently. Instructor and ZOE missionary Lori Ortenzi reflected on their first day.

The students had no idea what to expect from their cooking class today. There was a mixture of excitement and nervousness as we drove to the market together. The best part of the day was during our drive, one of the students asked to play a worship song. All of the students began to sing and after the song was over, one of the students asked, “Mae, can you please pray now?”

The cooking school provided an instructor and clean up staff for our private group of students. The students were only asked to cook and eat their food. However, the students wanted to wash all of their dishes, pots, and pans. Our students stopped to pray before our meal. The staff was so impressed and their instructor was impacted by their kindness and good manners.

I am so grateful for this opportunity to teach our students and for the donors who wanted to provide this cooking class for our students to learn in a different environment. Through the 6-week course, they are learning how to shop for ingredients and developing confidence to make a few smaller recipes by themselves.

January 30, 2019 - No Comments!

Children’s Day

ZOE Thailand

By Lori-Ann Tsang

In January, Thailand celebrates Children’s Day with a plethora of different activity options for parents to bring their children to. The flurry, busyness, and crowds of the day may seem a little over-the-top and daunting, that one may feel it is not worth the effort to try to bring your children out to these events. Yet the crowds are everywhere.

Why do parents do it? When I reflect on it, I have to compare it to Disneyland. As an adult, I may not have much desire to go to “the happiest place on earth.” I don’t like crowds or lines and the rides may not be of much interest to me. But, when I think about the wonder, awe, and joy it would bring to a child I love...that would motivate me to face the things I don’t enjoy for the sake of bringing joy to someone I love.

Our parents and Next Gen team took our ZOE children on an adventure to Wing 41, a Thai Air Force Base. They enjoyed eating snacks, playing games, climbing on fighter jets, meeting pilots, seeing a dog show, and then watching an air show. What a wonderful day they had.

Children need adventure. Children need to laugh and play and see new things. ZOE strives to give each child every opportunity to be a child. We celebrate their precious lives! We are so thankful for the gift they are.  

November 27, 2018 - No Comments!

Teachers Who Inspire

by Andrea Cross

The teachers at ZOE are hard-working, kind, patient, dedicated, professionals that help to steer children’s lives in a positive direction.  These teachers help create an environment where students feel safe, are able to concentrate, and develop into independent learners.

Every teacher needs professional development—in the form of practical training—so that they can safely and confidently focus on teaching. And every student deserves the benefits of a safe and productive learning environment.  Just like the training required for any specialized profession, teachers must receive ongoing training.

Four of our ZOE teachers recently attended a professional development training where they learnt about several topics, one of them being, Emotional Regulation Strategies.

At the training, they had the opportunity to learn from and exchange ideas with others which, they said, helped them to understand more about working with and accepting other people’s opinions as well as analyzing problems. They also said they got many new ideas from the lecturer that will be practical tools for both their work and personal lives.

I once read a quote that said, a mediocre teacher “tells”... a good teacher “explains”... a superior teacher “demonstrates” but a great teacher “inspires”.

What a privilege it is to have teachers that inspire, motivate and shape our students to want to be the best that they can be.

Most of us would be able to testify to the fact that we have reached many of our life’s achievements because of the joint effort of many encouraging teachers along the way that helped to shape and direct us. We are so thankful for the ZOE teachers who continue to improve at their profession by striving to do their best, participating in ongoing professional development and inspiring their students!

November 15, 2018 - No Comments!

Internships Off Campus

by Lori-Ann Tsang

We firmly believe that God “knows the plans He has for our children… plans to prosper them and not to harm them, plans to give them hope and a future.”  We not only believe this for each of the children in our care; we believe this for every child - even those who have not yet been rescued.

Practically this belief is realized in everyday pouring into their lives.  Teaching them, loving them and in giving them opportunities to expand their learning and broaden their horizons. 

During a recent school break, our staff and teachers arranged for our 9th graders to do a week of internship with some local businesses. They were able to intern at a motorcycle service shop, a village restaurant or a shop at the local hot springs.  The shop owners were very impressed with our youth as they acted in a responsible, enthusiastic and hard-working manner. The skills learned, and time spent doing these internships, sowed important values and skills into our children’s lives.

Did you know that the majority of working class Thai nationals, ride motorcycles?  Cars are very much a luxury. Therefore learning how to service and repair a motorcycle will serve them well as future working class community members.  The time working alongside local business people gave them a real glimpse of what “adult” life will look like. The 9th graders came away understanding more about themselves, what is required and expected in a typical working environment and whether they would continue to pursue work in these areas or not.

Just the other week, a few of us visited the local hot springs to grab a meal together. At the end of the meal, after realizing we were from ZOE, the owner again spoke of how wonderful the students who interned with her had been.  What a privilege to be a part of God’s plans for our children’s hope and future!

September 17, 2018 - No Comments!

Support for Parents of CSEC

by Marji Iacovetti

This summer, LA County launched a pilot program to support parents of Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC). ZOE was privileged to support the county’s efforts.

The weekly meetings were held at a church and were led by two experienced and caring clinicians – one from the Department of Mental Health and another from an organization called Saving Innocence. Members of the church demonstrated God’s love as they opened their hearts as well as their facilities. They greeted the women warmly, served them dinner, and provided childcare.

Eight mothers attended regularly. These precious moms wept for their children, bonded with each other, and learned valuable information. It was an honor to serve them. Human trafficking not only brutalizes the victims, but also violates their families. Please pray for mothers, fathers, other caregivers, and siblings whose hearts ache over the harm experienced by their loved ones.

Community partnerships are key to healing for survivors and their families. If your church has capacity to be a resource and partner in the fight against child trafficking, please email info@gozoe.org.

August 24, 2018 - No Comments!

The Link Between | Domestic Violence & Human Trafficking

The Home Front and the Fight Against Human Trafficking – Part I: Human Trafficking and Domestic Violence

If you are reading this, you are probably already aware of the fight against human trafficking taking place all over the world.  However, you may not know what you can do right in your neighborhood, even from your very own home, to join the fight against trafficking.

This is the first in a series sharing some practical tips for fighting trafficking on the home front.

“Domestic Violence.”  To most people, this phrase conjures images of a battered wife or child cowering in a corner.  Similar to human trafficking, domestic violence is often a “hidden crime,” happening behind closed doors and away from the public eye.  Typically, domestic violence, like human trafficking, is defined by an imbalance of power. We see this when a vulnerable person suffers at the hands of someone who controls or manipulates them in a verbal, physical, emotional, or sexual context.

Researchers have identified correlations between the crimes of domestic violence and human trafficking. Two studies from the 1980s, by different research groups, found that between 70-80% of commercially sexually exploited youth had a histories of sexual abuse.1

A more recent London-based study referenced in the U.S. Department of State’s 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report found that almost 70% of adult female trafficking victims experienced domestic violence prior to being trafficked.

After more than two decades, this statistic has remained virtually unchanged.  Domestic violence is an indicator of, and directly leads to, vulnerability to human trafficking.  As long as domestic violence continues to flourish, it will create vulnerability that human traffickers will exploit.

Domestic violence breaks relationships, leaving fear, shame, and depression in its wake.  One trafficker stated in an interview that he would target girls who had “daddy issues,” referring to a broken father-daughter relationship.2  These girls were vulnerable to manipulation, intimidation, and, ultimately, control.

Ester Yu, Assistant USA Regional Director of ZOE International, noted, “Strong similarities exist in the coercive patterns that both abusers and traffickers use to gain and maintain control over a victim. Physical, verbal, and emotional abuse and manipulation are often used to pressure or force a partner into engaging in commercial sex in what is called ‘intimate partner trafficking.’ Traffickers often lure, pressure, or force young girls into child trafficking by first acting as a boyfriend and someone who cares for them. This relationship soon turns controlling, abusive, and exploitative, leaving young girls in a situation where they have no choice and are dependent upon their abuser.”

An estimated 1 out of 4 women experience domestic violence on the level of severe physical violence by an intimate partner during her lifetime.3  However, for female victims of human trafficking, approximately 3 out of every 4 had already experienced domestic violence, before they were trafficked.

Domestic violence doesn’t just create victims of human trafficking, it also creates perpetrators.  The study, "From Victims to Victimizers: Interviews with 25 ex-pimps in Chicago," by researchers Jody Raphael and Brenda Myers-Powell, found that 88% of those surveyed experienced physical abuse growing up, while 76% endured sexual abuse. In many cases, the abuse forced them to leave home early and turn to exploiting others to survive.3

As we stand against human trafficking, one very practical action we can take is to keep our eyes open for signs of domestic violence.  These signs include5:

  • Personality changes, like low self-esteem in someone who was always confident
  • Constantly checking in with or overly worried about pleasing a partner
  • Skipping out on work, school, or social outings for no clear reason
  • Wearing clothes that don’t fit the season, like long sleeves in summer to cover bruises and giving excuses for injuries
  • Sounds and signs of domestic violence or abuse

Signs of abuse can also be an indicator of someone who is currently being trafficked.  Many human trafficking survivors experience physical abuse that can be visibly seen, similar to domestic violence.

Unfortunately, even when we see these signs of domestic violence, we sometimes lack the courage to act.  We may believe the situation will get better on its own. It rarely does. We may believe that, if the person really wants to get out, they can.  But in reality, victims are controlled through emotional manipulation as well as physical threats. Many feel fear and guilt. Some fear for their lives, the safety of their children, and even the well-being of their abusers.  We may believe the situation doesn’t involve us, since it’s a private issue. But if we don’t speak up, who will?

Sometimes, we simply don’t know what to do or whom to contact (see the information below).

The truth is that you can make a difference.  By speaking up, you may save a person from a lifetime of violence and possibly even rescue that person from a future of enslavement at the hands of a human trafficker.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) – online chat option available also

http://www.thehotline.org/help/

http://www.thehotline.org/help/what-to-expect-when-you-contact-the-hotline/

Additional Resources: TED Talk Videos about Human Trafficking & Abuse

Woman who was trafficked for 10 years shares how it started with her running away from abuse at home:

https://youtu.be/U_kXuQHZmWs

Child bride (a form of human trafficking) shares about abuse and recovery:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPAG3I8P34k

Why domestic violence victims (similar to human trafficking victims) don’t leave:

https://youtu.be/V1yW5IsnSjo

ZOE International, a U.S. 501(c)(3) NGO, 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.

1) Bagley & Young, 1987; Silbert & Pines, 1982

2) Nefarious Merchant of Souls movie

3) https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/nisvs_report2010-a.pdf

4) http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-09-15/news/ct-met-pimp-study-20100915_1_pimps-sexual-abuse-prostitution

5) https://www.verywellmind.com/signs-someone-is-being-abused-66535  & https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/mental-domestic-abuse-signs#2

May 30, 2018 - No Comments!

CMTA 2018

by Karen Miyamoto 

Recently, I was blessed to be able to attend the Annual Children’s Ministry conference that was held in Pasadena, CA.  ZOE has attended this event that is open to Children’s Ministry leaders for the past 7 years.

 

Being surrounded by leaders and volunteers that are eager to learn how to impact the next generation is always so encouraging.  These leaders and volunteers come to this conference to continually seek new and creative ways to share the love of Jesus and the

gospel their kids.  This event is always fun for me because I get to spend time with some amazing ZOE volunteers that help me at our booth for 2 days.  It’s also great seeing current ZOE supporters stop by our booth to say HELLO as well as getting to meet new people who love the work we are doing.

Dr. Jason Plunkett

This year, our newest addition to the ZOE team, Dr. Jason Plunkett who is our USA Regional Director, taught a break out session at the conference.  The topic he shared about was how the church can get involved in combatting human trafficking.  He enlightened the attendees on various human trafficking statistics as well as different signs to look for to spot a possible victim. Dr. Jason’s session was very informative and educational.

Along with various breakout sessions educating leaders and volunteers on how to teach, interact, and make church a fun place for kids, there were around 40 other vendors/ministries selling products related to Children’s Ministry and/or sharing outreach opportunities children can get involved in.  Speaking with other vendors and ministries always reminds me that there are so many people out there doing great work.  Though I may never see them again, we all take a small piece of the puzzle, to help make a difference in this world.

Being able to share about ZOE’s Kids Helping Kids program at this event with leaders impacting children is always fun.  Kids Helping Kids is a program designed to help children learn in a fun and interactive way about caring for others in need and empowering them to know that no matter how small they are, they can make a BIG difference in the world. Children are given plastic tubes to collect $15 in quarters. This small amount of change can feed, clothe, and educate a child in Thailand fora full week! Funds collected through this program play an active role in assisting ZOE International’s efforts to help human trafficking victims in Thailand.  If this program is something you would like to get your church or home school group involved in, let us know!  It’s a great tool to be incorporated during VBS as well as the holiday season.

If you are a church leader or volunteer that works with children, I highly recommend registering for next year’s CMTA conference.  You will be inundated with so many amazing resources and beneficial breakout sessions.  It’s also a great place to network with other leaders from different churches.  Working as a team is always much more fun.  Click here to get more information about CMTA.

May 22, 2018 - No Comments!

Japan’s Needs are Unique

As we face the problem of human trafficking among Japanese children, we discovered many problems related to sexual exploitation, such as force of appearances for pornography and other sexual exploitations. The background is different from other countries that are havingissues of sex trafficking due to poverty. The situation in Japan is quite unique.

Many parents tend to put children under pressure for them to be academically successful. “Success” means to get good grades and get into a good university, which then will lead to a successful career in the future.

In Japan, there are an estimated 34,288 reports of missing children and young people from teenagers to those in their 20s in 2016. Family relationships seem to be a main cause for this.  There are cases where children are being neglected by parents as well. “Trust” and “security” are missing in the relationship between parents and children.

There is a famous Japanese proverb that says, “Deru kui wa utareru” (the stake that sticks up gets hammered down).  It means “if you stand out, you will be subject to criticism.” In schools, children are under the constant pressure to act and behave in the same way as others around them. There is risk of being bullied if a child chooses to do something unique or different from the majority of the group. This is a very exhausting friendship children face in schools as well as society.

There is a lack of encouragement, someone to say “you are valuable the way you are”

around these children. Traffickers prey on these children who are craving love and affection. Sadly, the strategy to coax those into trafficking is similar to those in other countries.  Traffickers camouflage themselves to be a scouting agent for modeling jobs, and sometimes even a potential boyfriend/girlfriend. Before a child realizes it,he/she is victimized to appear on various pornography outlets and forced to do other sexual services. They are in bondage to the trafficker who gives them an irrational debt and proclaims not to release him/her until the debt is paid. They also know all of the child’s information, including parents, friends, school, and etc.

Japan is a country that is economically blessed and our physical and material needs are always taken care of, but the voice of children crying out for love and affection is drowned out by the noise of parents and society.

What do Japanese children need?

  • Loving and caring parents (adults) who accept and value them for who they are
  • Biblical counseling that can help children to make better decisions in life
  • Biblical truth and teaching about sex that God has designed

One thing we can all do for the children of Japan is PRAY!  Needs are great in Japan. Not necessarily physical or material needs, but spiritual need is crucial. This is why ZOE is passionate about doing prevention work in Japan through sharing the love of God in Christ. We believe that we can make a huge difference and bring light to children’s lives through Jesus.

October 2, 2017 - 2 comments

Duct Tape, Some Change and ZOE!

By Karen Miyamoto

This past summer, Higher Vision Church located in Santa Clarita, CA decided to adopt ZOE for their 2017 Vacation Bible School missions focus.  They gave each child plastic tubes to collect change through our Kids Helping Kids program.  The VBS was over the course of 5 days and the theme was Maker Fun Factory.
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July 17, 2017 - No Comments!

Combating Trafficking in the U.S.

written by, Hanne Fellers

Every summer, The U.S. State Department releases the Trafficking In Persons Report. Many of our ZOE staff anticipate the release of this report every year. We’re always curious to which angle the report will take. This years report did not disappoint. It is filled with heart wrenching stories, but also inspiring progress and victories of good people who fought the good fight and won. It’s encouraging to read about what people are doing all over the world to combat trafficking.
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