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HOPE Ambassador Melissa Seet at ALIVE
HOPE Founder, Ralph Bromley, recently returned from a trip from Asia and shares his experiences and stories from the ‘road’ . . .
“I have recently returned from a trip to Asia where I spent time with staff and projects in Thailand, Cambodia, and Indonesia. One of my goals was to get an update on the issues of ‘Trafficking and the Commercial Exploitation of Children for sex’.
The exponential increase in the sex industry was obvious at numerous levels on the surface, but most of the trafficking and exploitation is buried under layers of complexity, corruption, and covert operations. At every level of civil society the sex industry is increasing in it's reach; be it on the street, within government offices, inside the police department, sex tours, inside brothels, or networked through cell phones. The demand for child-sex is high and the supply seems endless. Through my conversations I came to realize that the industry of trafficking and exploitation is highly networked. Collaboration between politicians, police, gangs, internet specialists, ground agents, traffickers, and tourist agencies all allow this industry to flourish. Billions of dollars grease the palms of those who participate. It takes 'networks' to fight 'networks'. Those of us who try to participate in stemming the flow of this industry must realize that the best way to fight this 'evil' is through collaboration and partnership. ‘All hands on deck’ are required. A committed network of researchers, communicators, intervention, intercessors, donors, entrepreneurs, caregivers, counselors, and volunteers all contribute to the tools of battle. Together we bring hope and safety to those caught in the snares of the predators. My first stop was MERCY PATTAYA, Thailand. Over the years HOPE and MERCY Pattaya have worked together in providing community-based care for children who have been abandoned or trafficked. Children come to us through relationships with the police or the child welfare department. Over the years we have taken in scores of children and have provided a loving environment for growth and development. Many have been restored to their 'lost' families or caring relatives. Those who remain are loved, cared for, and educated. My second stop was ALIVE MINISTRIES, Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Located in a shopping center just two blocks from the university, ALIVE is a storefront training center designed to assist vulnerable women engage in training which will enable them to find work and cope in the marketplace. Working in partnership with CAMBODIA+, women receive professional help in writing resumes, searching for appropriate employment, learning computer skills, practicing interview skills, and accessing a wardrobe and make-up center for going to interviews for employment. It may not appear strategic, but if these women fail in getting a decent job, they will often default to their former work on the streets. My final stop was MEDAN, Indonesia. HOPE's collaboration with our partner here assists with micro-loans for women in villages (2000+), runs an inner-city slum school (300 students), and operates a health clinic for the poor. A piece of land has been identified for the development of a medical clinic and vocational school. This is an exciting vision and you are invited to participate in facilitating the restoration of hope and health in the lives of many slum dwellers. Having returned to Canada, I more fully understand that the battle against the evil of trafficking and sexual exploitation of children is a daunting operation. At times it seems impossible to stem the tide of this raging war. However, I was a witness to many small victories. Individuals rescued, children loved and cared for, women being trained, and hundreds being educated. These individuals stand as testimonies to the networks who have band together to help. These individuals are living proof that your contribution to their welfare has changed their life!
Together, let us press forward in battle.