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Paul dreamt of coming to America from the time he was a child. He grew up surrounded by gang violence and lived in fear for his and his family’s safety.
One day, a man visited Paul’s town and asked if he was interested in traveling to America. Paul felt like this was the opportunity he’d been waiting for—a chance to fulfill his dreams of creating a better life for him and his family. He decided to use his life savings and paid the man to take him to America.
But once they arrived, he was brought to a couple he knew nothing about. The man told him that in order to stay in America, Paul needed to work for this couple’s farm and restaurant. Paul agreed, but once he decided to stay, they stripped him of his identification and documents. He slept on a mattress in a shed on the farm, with no heat and little food. Even though he worked 16 hours a day, he never received any money for his work. He was told his money was going toward his lodging, necessities, a debt he owed, and his family back home. But the more Paul asked questions about his money, the more the couple threatened to call the police.
One day, Paul was working at the restaurant when he started a conversation with a customer in his native language. The customer did not feel right about the story Paul was telling, so he reported the incident to law enforcement. Eventually, law enforcement conducted an operation at the restaurant and was able to assist Paul to safety.
Afterwards, Paul was put in contact with A21. Our team was able to coordinate legal services and provide the support Paul needed to find stable employment and create a safe home so his family could come live with him.
*Survivor name and photo changed for their protection
Born in a rural part of her home country, Sreyling dropped out of primary school at a young age to help her family on their small rice farm. As she grew into her pre-teens, there were increasing pressures put on her to help contribute financially to the family. She searched for work, from the village all the way to the nearest city. Finally, someone told her that if she needed money, she could go work abroad and they even offered to introduce her to someone they knew who could connect her to a good job. She agreed and met the employer, who promised her an income of thousands of dollars a month with free accommodation and the ability to travel home on holidays. All she would have to do is clean people’s houses. Sreyling was so excited about the job, she couldn’t wait to tell her family the good news. Her family was quick to agree that she should go.
She had no passport and no money but the employer told her they would take care of everything for her. When she arrived in the destination country, Sreyling could not understand the language being spoken. She was met by a man who took her to a house on the other side of the city and told her that she must do whatever she was told. Sreyling had been exploited and was sold to a family for domestic servitude. She was forced to work all day, and was severely beaten by the owner of the house. At night, she was sexually exploited, and unable to leave the room. She had limited access to food or water and was not allowed to use a phone. She tried to escape, but after seeking someone’s help, she was brought back to the house, where she was beaten for attempting to flee.
The abuse went on for many years until one day someone noticed something wasn’t right and reported the suspicious behavior to the local police. When the police arrived at the house they asked for Sreyling’s legal documents, when she was unable to provide them she was brought in for questioning. The police soon identified her as a victim of human trafficking and contacted A21 for support. A21 immediately got involved and began working towards her repatriation back into her home country, helping to reunite with her family after so many years away. A21 was able to provide Sreyling with immediate medical and psychological support and assist in her reintegration back into society.
The trauma she had experienced took its toll on her and she suffered frequent nightmares and battled anxiety, but her counselor was dedicated to helping her develop emotional resilience and positive coping mechanisms to help overcome her trauma. A21 sponsored her to enroll in a vocational training program, where she could develop her skills and achieve her dream of one day opening her own hair salon. She is now living a life of independence and working towards her goals. She no longer suffers from nightmares or anxiety and has made remarkable progress over the last year in our aftercare program.
*Survivor name and photo changed for their protection
Check out our Amazon Wishlists to restock essential items for survivors in our care. Items include basic necessities needed to replenish welcome packages and gifts to stock the A21 Holiday Store. Survivors shop at the Holiday Store to experience the joy of giving to their families at no cost. Select the items you wish to donate, and Amazon will ship the items directly to the Freedom Center.
Despite many attempts, Ta* struggled to escape exploitation for several years. She was trafficked as a teen through a false job opportunity abroad and forced into domestic servitude and sexual exploitation. She became pregnant and experienced severe abuse while caught in trafficking.
Until one day, Ta was arrested for not having a passport. She was identified as a victim of human trafficking and repatriated back to Cambodia. Government authorities referred Ta to A21, where our team supported her reintegration into society.
Ta was reunited with her family and developed a plan for her future. While in our Aftercare program, Ta received immediate medical, psychological, and social support to recover from her trauma.
Ta met with an A21 social worker regularly to map out her goals of becoming a businesswoman to support her family. Our team helped Ta develop a business plan, including life skills training and identifying needs within her community.
Ta successfully established a grocery store in her village, and within the first three months of operations, she earned enough revenue to expand while supporting her family. Ta was excited to enroll her younger siblings in school for the first time and become financially independent.
The launch of our newest Freedom Center in Cambodia is the first of its kind to support child victims of human trafficking. We’re grateful for the opportunity to serve children and minors specifically through our proven Freedom Center model, focusing on each survivor’s needs and desires.
In 2022, we’ve already served 24 child survivors through the Freedom Center in Cambodia, where our team of specialists comprises the best counselors and psychologists in the area. Although this Freedom Center replicates our other locations in design and aesthetics, it focuses on child-friendly aftercare.
Most young victims attending the Freedom Center in Cambodia are exiting sexual exploitation or forced labor. While we’ve been providing aftercare to young people for years at the Child Advocacy Center in Cambodia, we now have a space specifically designed to support the restoration and reintegration process for child survivors of human trafficking.
One young survivor enjoyed being at the Freedom Center so much that she asked her grandad to go every day. And that’s our goal—to create a place of healing, belonging, and joy for young survivors as they reclaim their childhood and embrace the freedom they deserve.
Give to restore more young survivors in Cambodia.Give Now
Check out the film above to see two stories unfold and the difference education can make in one family’s future.
If prevention education was taught in schools worldwide, imagine how many students and families would become aware of human trafficking and how to protect themselves. Imagine how many people would be protected, rescued, and restored.
When the war started in Ukraine, Uliana* fled in fear of her life.
She was a survivor of human trafficking who traveled by train for over a week, spending nights in train stations until she arrived at a refugee camp near the border.
Her journey continued throughout Europe, where she met many refugees in a similar situation. Each person was facing new challenges, and Uliana could feel the heaviness that surrounded her. She courageously moved forward to solve one problem at a time until she found safety.
With the help of volunteers, Uliana received official documents for a temporary residence in a European country and a job to afford her basic needs. Our Aftercare Team is proud of Uliana and her resilience in moving forward amidst ongoing challenges.
In the acknowledgement of World Refugee Day, and after watching the crisis in Ukraine unfold over the last few months, our hearts break for the millions of people who have been displaced. Refugees are some of the most vulnerable to human trafficking, and the situation in Ukraine has only increased the risk of exploitation worldwide.
Traffickers strike in moments of crisis, and that’s why our team in Ukraine (many of which are also refugees) is working relentlessly to get awareness and prevention materials into the hands of vulnerable people.
The need is immense, and there’s something all of us can do to help.
Check out what our team is doing to reach refugees and support Ukrainian survivors of human trafficking both in and out of the country by watching this update from Country Manager Julia S.
Your support is helping survivors like Uliana receive ongoing aftercare support and reach refugees with potentially life-saving information.
Give now before it’s too late, and your donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar.
Our educational resources are designed to keep you and your family safe.
Check them out here →
Online childhood exploitation is a subset of childhood exploitation that has always existed in the physical world. The advent of the internet 25 years ago opened a doorway for offenders to interact with one another and children in ways they could not before—increasing accessibility and, therefore, exploitation.
If a minor is online, they become more vulnerable to individuals who can exploit them. The following story is based on actual events.
Our goal is to prevent this type of recruitment and exploitation from happening in the first place, so we’ve created several free resources that cover topics like online safety and how to look for red flags of digital recruitment.
Maria was trafficked for years, but she bravely escaped when she saw an open door. On the run, she collided with a woman who had become aware of human trafficking through one of our posters.
The woman called our human trafficking hotline, and a call specialist connected her with the police. Because of Maria’s testimony, the police conducted a raid and rescued many others. Her bravery had a ripple effect, and you too can create a ripple effect of freedom today.
In our Aftercare program, Maria overcame the trauma and found a fresh hope for the future. She experienced healing and restoration. She received medical support, took language lessons, engaged in our group programs, and developed the skills to help her thrive in a new community.
Eventually, she moved into her own apartment and now lives in complete independence. It’s a surreal feeling. A foreign feeling. But the best feeling.
Today, she’s working full-time. She knows her worth. She’s full of hope. She’s living the life she’s always wanted and pursuing the dreams she’s always had.
Right now, Maria is testifying in court against her traffickers. This chapter in her life ends not just in freedom but also in justice.
We long for more stories like Maria's. We long for the day where slavery no longer exists. Thank you for investing in freedom for those who are still being exploited.
Large events, such as the Super Bowl, can lead to an increase in human trafficking because of the high influx of visitors—but we're working to change that.
It's A Penalty (IAP) is a global campaign that harnesses the power of sport to prevent abuse, exploitation, and trafficking globally. We are proud to be one of the founding partners to this campaign and are excited to announce that the new PSA video, shown here, will be played throughout Southwest and American flights.
Several athletes including Chris Godwin, Johnny Hekker, Aaron Rodgers, Andy Dalton, Nick Foles, and many others are using their voices to speak up and help prevent the exploitation of children.
Last year during the Super Bowl, 16 missing children from the Missing Kids list were identified in the region! It was a team effort to safeguard these individuals.
This is the power of prevention and awareness. Because of your generosity, we can make more people aware of human trafficking and how to stop it.
Sports fan or not, we all agree that every man, woman, and child deserves to be free.
Watch the It’s A Penalty video now and don’t forget to play it at your Super Bowl Party on February 13!
As child sex tourism is a type of child sex trafficking, indicators specifically to sex trafficking apply such as:
Additional indicators specific to child sex tourism may be noticed: