ZOE has been successful in its child trafficking rescue operations as a result of close coordination and cooperation with governmental agencies, which includes receiving tips through our child rescue hotline. In the years that ZOE has been fighting human trafficking in Southeast Asia, we have made friends, formed partnerships, and cultivated an impressive network of contacts* throughout northern Thailand to serve as our “eyes and ears” on the ground.
*Our network includes: Local law enforcement Social workers Teachers Pastors Community leaders Former ZOE staff Former ZOE Ministry School students Every one of our contacts has been instrumental in alerting and assisting us to prevent children from being sold into slavery and rescuing those who have already been trafficked.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING HOTLINE
ZOE receives over 200 calls a year on its human trafficking hotline. ZOE’s Child Rescue (ZCR) department members are Thai citizens who speak a variety of languages (Thai, Karen, Burmese, etc.). When a call comes in on the hotline, a ZCR team member conducts a telephone interview with the caller using a special matrix developed by ZCR to assess whether the situation is truly a child for sale or something else (e.g. domestic dispute, runaway, etc.). If the call is deemed a child in danger of trafficking, a rescue team is immediately assembled and sent to the child’s location. ZOE employs a number of strategies to remove children from harm’s way in these situations. However, we will never pay money to rescue a child. To do so would only perpetuate the human trafficking industry and reward the human traffickers. In cases where it is discovered that a family is struggling to feed the children because of poverty or a poor harvest and are looking for ways to put food on the table, we are able to provide food staples, such as rice, cooking oil and canned meat or fish through our Mercy Network partnership with the Children’s Hunger Fund. Any time a child is rescued from an imminent sale into human trafficking and taken to ZOE Children’s Homes, we go through all necessary legal processes to gain protective guardianship.
ZOE recognizes that human trafficking has numerous root causes and our approach addresses each in turn. When there is extreme vulnerability, especially due to lack of development and education coupled with inadequate response systems, traffickers flourish. ZOE supports anti-trafficking training programs aimed at building awareness and sensitivity among stakeholders and empowering them to act when necessary.
Child trafficking awareness campaigns are set up in the United States, Thailand, and Australia. The goals of these campaigns are to educate communities the realities of human trafficking and empower them to take action.
EMPOWER AUDIENCES TO TAKE ACTION
ZOE is active in reaching a variety of audiences with human trafficking education and prevention messages. ZOE representatives speak frequently at conferences, churches, professional groups, and schools. Many of these presentations focus on topics related to human trafficking (the prevalence of modern-day slavery, tactics traffickers use to trap young people, God’s heart for the unprotected, etc.). ZOE presentations always include action steps listeners can take to prevent and combat human trafficking.
Our desire is to equip, inspire and empower audiences with hope and the knowledge they need to make a difference. ZOE distributes human trafficking awareness materials at conferences, at churches and through social media outlets. Law enforcement agencies use ZOE brochures in their human trafficking awareness efforts as well.
Samples of ZOE’s educational materials linked below:
HELP RECOGNIZE THE PROBLEM
The first step to preventing child trafficking in Southeast Asia is helping the community recognize the problem. Our community outreach and public awareness campaigns target the most vulnerable: poor families, rural communities, youth and children. These campaigns create an environment where the local community is willing to acknowledge the problem and work in a concerted manner to tackle the problem.
CREATE A SAFETY NET
The next step is to create a community safety net of responsible partners to continue the work of vigilance and community policing after the initial training has ended. ZOE supports education and practical training programs to government agencies, local law enforcement, schools, social service providers, village leaders and local faith-based organizations to identify, prevent and report trafficking in the community. ZOE has built a referral network of over 300 different contacts in the cities and rural areas of Southeast Asia that acts as an early warning system to identify at-risk children and communities.
EDUCATE PEOPLE AND SAVE CHILDREN
The team at ZOE is sensitized to deal with human trafficking in a professional manner. As we educate more people and awareness of human trafficking and slavery grows, greater numbers of victims are identified. Approximately 11,000 adults and children in Southeast Asia have completed ZOE’s training program. During 2009 to 2010, ZOE received 401 trafficking case referrals and requests to provide services. Based on these requests, ZOE conducted investigations, participated in interventions and provided social services and victim care in 127 trafficking cases.
RAISE CHILD TRAFFICKING AWARENESS
ZOE Foundation Australia is dedicated to raising awareness through the media, entertainment industry, influential voices, speaking engagements, internet communities and by encouraging university and high school involvement. We strongly believe that awareness of the trafficking problem must be widespread and cooperation and collaboration among anti-trafficking organizations strengthened. In 2014, ZFA teamed up with accomplished curriculum writer Mark Easton to develop a set of six lesson plans to provide teachers with the resources they need to teach Year Ten students about child trafficking and the ways in which organizations and individuals are responding to this issue.