It’s an old saying: bad things happen every day, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to fix them. In few areas is this mentality more apparent than in human trafficking. According to a 2008 estimate, 20.9 million persons are victimized each year—and, with growing social inequality, that number is multiplying. Yet, for each atrocity, brave new hearts rise. Here are seven non-profit organizations that are leading the fight against human trafficking.
Photo: Luis Villasmil on Unsplash
The Exodus Road
This Colorado-based organization was founded in 2012 by Matt and Laura Parker, an American couple who moved to rural northern Thailand and spent the next seven years uncovering the Thai sex trade. Within two years of their arrival, the Parkers realized that, if anything was to be accomplished, it would have to start with grassroot movements. Local organizations were inefficient and out of touch with law enforcement, making real progress impossible. The Exodus Road is based on “the belief that justice is in the hands of ordinary people.” Using teams of nationals, local police, and undercover operations, the Parkers have expanded beyond Thailand into India and Latin America.
Not For Sale
The message is simple and profound. Whether it’s “mothers in Amsterdam”, “children in Thailand”, “indigenous tribes in the Amazon”, or Americans who are peer-pressured to go against their “own values”, “no one is for sale.” Not For Sale’s style is straightforward and pragmatic: artner with locals to research the cause of human exploitation. Next, partner with entrepreneurs to create a healthy economy through honest, sustainable places of work that give back to the community. Their efforts have touched millions throughout the Netherlands, Peru, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Love Justice International
What started as the Tiny Hands International orphanage in 2004 multiplied into over 8 more orphanages and a school by 2011, with a reach throughout not only Nepal, but Bangladesh as well. As part of their expansion, Tiny Hands International instituted programs to collect data on human trafficking and convict ringleaders. Their efforts resulted in the arrest of several criminals and even an interception at a train station. As of 2017, the organization had been renamed Love Justice International and has monitoring locations in South Africa, Mongolia, Malawi, and Zimbabwe.
Self-branded as the “abolitionists of the 21st century”, A21 aims to “free slaves” and “disrupt the demand” that feeds the industry. They seek to inject a dose of humanism into a cause that they recognize can be easily overrun by dehumanizing statistics. “The heart of our organization is the one,” their mission reads, reminding their supporters to never lose focus of whom they’re fighting to save: the single individual who is “trapped and exploited, unable to see another end to their story.” With 14 offices worldwide, A21 is succeeding in its mission and beyond.
Stop The Traffik
With an emphasis on technology, informed citizenry, and global activism, Stop The Traffik aims to “unite people around the world.” After being founded in 2006, the organization spearheaded a two-year coalition campaign to raise awareness. At the end of their campaign, they presented a 1.5 million signature petition to the U.N., highlighting the call for action against the global sex trafficking crisis. Stop the Traffik partners with over 35 companies and law enforcement agencies to map the trends and hotspots of human trafficking, compile intelligence reports, and build resilience in vulnerable communities.
Agape International Missions
Better known by its acronym AIM, this organization began in 2005 when its founders Don and Bridget Brewster were horrified to learn of the sex trafficking industry in Cambodia. They gave up their life in Roseville, California to lead AIM, developing 12 programs to holistically address sex trafficking. Headquartered in the U.S. with a team of 300 Cambodians, AIM’s mission is to “rescue, restore, and reintegrate survivors of sex trafficking through Christ’s love and Gospel.”
Like the North Star that “guided slaves to freedom in the U.S.,” the Polaris Project is a beacon in the fight against human trafficking. It was founded by Brown University seniors Derek Ellerman and Katherine Chon in 2002. With an all-inclusive approach to help people of all backgrounds and genders (including transgender individuals), Polaris employs thousands of full-time workers and volunteers. In coordination with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Polaris has run the National Human Trafficking Hotline for 10 years now, a global initiative that exposes more and more cases each year.
It’s sad to learn that human trafficking remains an issue in a world that sends rockets into space and understands nuclear fission. Nevertheless--like a gray cloud with a silver lining--no matter how many injustices occur, for each effort made to stop them, the world is one step closer to being a better place.
Olivia Amici is a hustler who has been writing short stories for fun since high school and editing scientific papers since moving to Concepcion, Chile, for a gap year. Before then, she paid her way through community college while working as an event coordinator and a dental assistant. Once she returns to the States, she is excited to complete her degree in biology at University of Florida. In ten years, she would like to be working as a medical research editor and own an African Gray Parrot and a house in San Diego.