And so do our partners around the world who work tirelessly to fight human trafficking and its root causes–because they see hope where others don’t.
Street children in the Philippines could be considered hopeless. They have been orphaned, neglected, abandoned, or trafficked. They are uneducated, illiterate, and vulnerable. But our partner there rescues these children off of the streets and provides them with food, shelter, education, medical care, and most importantly, a supportive and loving family-oriented environment.
Here is one story of their incredible work:
Eight or nine boys between the ages of nine and fourteen were asleep on an
with traffic whizzing by below them.
It was 10am. The boys were sleeping so soundly, thanks to a night of using solvent, that they didn't hear our voices around them. Or the traffic. Or anything.
Some awoke with startled eyes as they saw me, a foreigner, standing there. Others fixed their gazes on the city social worker, whom they had met many times in the past and were leery of. Several looked at my own social worker as she assured them that nobody was here to hurt them or take them anywhere they don't want to go. All of the boys sat up eventually, and huddled close together.
These young men listened intently as my social worker explained to them that we were invited to come to meet them by the city social welfare office. We told them that the staff there was worried about them growing up on the street and wanted to help them find a new way of life and a safe place to be.
The boys were clearly skeptical at first. We told them we have a shelter where they could eat three times a day, go to school and church, have clean clothes and stop taking care of themselves and worrying about being hurt. One of the young boys said "I'll go" before we even finished our introduction. His name is Efren and he was overtly ready to get off the street.
Five boys from the overpass piled into our truck and came with us for lunch and counseling. Some were clearly hesitant while others were plainly giddy.
Then the city social worker came to our van with some bad news. One of the boys would not be able to come with us.
He was an older boy, 14 years old, and he was from a neighboring city. The social worker who was helping us had not been able to notify the city of origin that the child would be moved. Without their acknowledgment, we could not move the child. We had to wait.
The disappointment on the child's face was crushing as she told him he had to get out of our truck and stay in the street a little longer while permission was obtained. We were devastated. But not as much as he was.
In solidarity, two of the other older boys decided to stay with him and "look out for him." So they, too, left our truck, with solemn faces, and we were left with two boys.
We tried everything we could think of to bypass the city of origin, to plead with their secretary to help us and to get the helpful city social worker to be the one to authorize the admission. But in the end, because child trafficking is so rampant here, we had to wait.
And so Efren and Arvin came with us and became the newest members of our family. These two twelve-year-old children have lived on the street for years. They have engaged in crime and substance abuse, like most of the children we serve. But upon admission to our home, all they wanted to do was color in coloring books and play with Legos!
They are not sleeping one more night in a dirty overpass that smells like a gas station bathroom. They aren't begging for one more bite of food from anyone.
Join us in believing that there is hope for children like Efren and Arvin, and for the many children like them who are still awaiting rescue.
*Names changed for confidentiality