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Human Trafficking Awareness Month: 3 Stories You Should Know (and Share)

By Julia Randall

A man stuck at sea, deceived and forced to labor long days under a hot Pacific sun.  A domestic servant who hasn’t seen the world outside the home where she works in almost a year.  A child who waits anxiously, unaware of what’s in store for her, as the price of her virginity is negotiated.  Despite different backgrounds and situations, these individuals are bound together by the chains of slavery and fates they did not choose.  Participate in Human Trafficking Awareness month by refusing to look away from the stories of those trapped in trafficking.

When he couldn’t find work in his native country in Asia, Troy* scraped together everything he could to pay a broker to find him work in a neighboring country.  When he arrived at his destination, however, he found it wasn’t the pineapple canning factory he’d been told about.  Instead, he was driven to a coastal port town and forced on a tiny, ramshackle boat to join other forced laborers in working 20 hours a day, seven days a week, hauling in nets heavy with fish before gutting and weighing them by hand.

Troy was told that his payment hadn’t covered his transportation costs, so he must work until he could repay his debt.  However, he has yet to receive any payment.  Shifted from boat to boat out at sea, he hasn’t seen land in almost three years.

troy HTAM

When she was seventeen, Angeline* lived on the crowded streets of a city in India, in desperate need of food and shelter.  Homeless after being kicked out of her home for disgracing her family, Angeline was elated when a woman claiming to be a recruiter offered her a job cleaning and caring for children in a well-to-do home in an upscale suburb.  When the door of the home that would become her jail was closed and locked behind her, so was her freedom and future.

Five years later, Angeline works 18 hours a day, every day of the week, performing a slew of household tasks.  If her work doesn’t meet her owner’s standards, she can expect a physical punishment and her body bears the scars of past mistakes, like the time she burned the rice, or when she tried to run away.

angeline HTAM

Tina* sits quietly in a stiflingly small and dirty room in a Cambodian brothel, wishing she could disappear.  She was smuggled from her home in Malaysia to this brothel a week ago, after her parents sold her to a trafficker.  She is an intelligent and feisty girl, but nothing in her rural upbringing prepared her for the forced sale of her virginity.  She doesn’t know the language used by her new mama san (pimp) and the men interested in her, but she can tell from their tones and gestures that they are all evaluating her and bargaining fiercely.

After the final sale of her virginity today, Tina will be less valuable to her mama san but will continue to be forced to work in the brothel.  She’s not yet turned 12.

tina HTAM

Troy, Angeline and Tina are not alone.  More slaves exist today than at any other time in human history.  Be an abolitionist by sharing this post to participate in Human Trafficking Awareness Month.  Use your voice to stand against slavery and share information from our website, Pinterest boards, Twitter account and Facebook page.  You can also find information to share on Instagram, You Tube, and Vimeo.

You can impact stories like these by taking a first step towards action by advocacy. Advocacy is utilizing your influence and voice on behalf of a cause or person you care about. Would you consider sharing online this post or any other interesting article or video about human trafficking with your circle of friends and family? The first step towards mobilizing a movement lies in educating people about it.


* Names and identifying information have been changed for security.  Each account is a composite profile of multiple human trafficking survivors.

BRAVO TEAM: Nine Children Rescued in Rural India

On November 11, The Exodus Road team in India (known as BRAVO team) and local law enforcement rescued nine minor-age girls from a brothel in a raid that resulted in the arrest of 31 sex traffickers and controllers.  More than 60 police officials were present in a rural part of India where, unfortunately, trafficking situations are common. This raid was unique in the large numbers of arrests made and police officers involved — making it a significant win for justice.

The Exodus Road’s BRAVO team was honored to be allowed to collaborate with police in the investigative phase of the mission and to work towards the common goal of securing freedom for minors trapped in sex trafficking — one of whom was a young teen named Saya*.

BRAVO team 11.11.15 arrests

Saya*, age 15, had spent more than a year at the brothel which was busted during this case. Her family sold her to the traffickers themselves. Saya is now in the protective care of the local Social Welfare Department in India, and The Exodus Road social workers are following up with her personally. We are hopeful for the life that lays ahead of her, along with the future of each girl freed in this mission.

We salute each of the 60 members of the law enforcement, as well as the nationals who comprise our own BRAVO Team, involved in this rescue for the part each played in the fight for freedom. We’d also like to thank Messenger International for sponsoring the mission.

Learn about Search & Rescue:

Introducing Communications Manager Angie Washington

By: Julia Randall and Laura Parker

We love introducing the real people behind the efforts of The Exodus Road community, and today we’d like you to meet Angie Washington, our Communications Manager. Angie is based in Nebraska and has followed The Exodus Road from its very beginnings in Asia in 2012. Having worked cross-culturally in Bolivia for 13 years and having avidly written, launched, and run websites, Angie came to The Exodus Road team with a heart for the vulnerable and the knowledge of how to communicate effectively online in the nonprofit sector. Most of the emotive graphics you see online, and lots of the words you read from the website to the Facebook page are written from her keyboard, and we’d love for you to meet the woman behind the words.


Angie W.Can you summarize your role as Communications Manager?

I oversee the online interaction on our social media pages and also run our blog and website.  I work closely with VP of Communications Laura Parker, who also directs and leads the visionary side.  I work the “make it happen,” so to speak, side.  I also oversee the press relationships, a new endeavor.

What role do you play in the rescue of individuals caught in sex trafficking?

My key role, my number one goal, is to connect people to rescue.  I feel like the way that I work in the Communications Department allows people to connect in a real way, by giving their time, volunteer effort or finances.  I create the medium to connect them to the frontlines.  Without somebody in the middle, there would be no real connection. There would just be those bad guys, the trafficking, overseas and the good-hearted people not knowing what to do.  I’m the connective piece that allows ordinary people to be modern-day abolitionists.

What experiences have you had in the past ten years that have prepared you for this work?

So many specific moments come to mind. I’ll share the first personal experience. A baby girl was brought to our orphanage in Bolivia whose sale had been intercepted at the border. To hold that baby in my arms and know that she was not another trafficking fatality changed me. Following that, real life conversations with many precious people who work in the anti-trafficking field also helped to prepare me.

Angie, you sit in front of the computer most days. What keeps you inspired to help with the work, even though you are not able to actively be on the “frontlines?” 

The amazing team of people I work with inspires me. Also, sometimes I will pull out the field reports and read through them. Hearing the undercover operatives talk about the missions and the people they encounter keeps me going. It really all just comes back to “I want to see those kids free.”

  • It really all just comes back to: I want to see those kids free.

    - Angie Washington, Communications Manager

Since you’ve come on board in January 2015 what progress, or reason to hope about the state of sex trafficking, have you seen?

I have hope because I have seen kids freed. I get to look at the raw footage that comes in by way of photo and video. We then turn that into a story element that protects the identities of the rescued victims, but also is true to their plight. That has been an honor for me. The stories give me hope.

What has surprised you most Laura and Angie june 2015about the response of people to the communication from The Exodus Road?

The tremendous amount of collaboration necessary to liberate slaves surprised me. I didn’t realize how much is involved in liberation. Now, when I communicate about rescued slaves, I know that countless skilled and generous people make it happen. Every single rescued person is priceless, quite literally.

(Pictured: Angie Washington and Laura Parker, June 2015) 

Meet more members of The Exodus Road team:

Meet the Country Director in India: Sudir

As a young man in his early 20s, Sudir* lived through a harrowing ordeal which later became the impetus for his lifelong dedication to freeing slaves. Sudir’s younger sister, a minor at the time, was trapped in human trafficking. This is a scary situation in any place, but even more so in their city. They lived in a poverty stricken part of India, highly susceptible to trafficking activity of this kind. Undeterred by his ranking in the lowest caste young Sudir plunged into a frantic search for his dear sister. He went literally door to door, until he found the brothel where she was being kept. Then, he worked with the police to rescue her from her captors. They were able to beat the odds, remove her, and bring her back home. Her story is one of the happy ones. That happened 22 years ago.

Sudir remains just as passionate about freedom today as he was during that impacting experience. His sister, now a capable social worker, has joined Sudir as a vital member of The Exodus Road team. What might have caused bitterness or anger in some became the starting point for a beautiful life of service to others in captivity. His contribution to the work of freedom has meant liberation for hundreds of women and children.

Sudir is passionate and full of energy. Our VP of Global Operations, Kevin Campbell, recently had the privilege of speaking with Sudir. He asked him to share with us about what keeps him so motivated.

IMG_1131 (1)
Sudir (identity and name protected) pictured with Kevin Campbell, the VP of Global Ops, and Matt Parker, founder and CEO of The Exodus Road

“My hope is to see one day ‘no more child and woman forced into prostitution’ as I move forward to help find and free slaves,” he said. Then through tears, “I just want to thank you for allowing me to be a part of The Exodus Road. For allowing me to go out with the team and do investigations.”

He has carried this same gratitude with him since he joined The Exodus Road team at the beginning of this year. “Brother Matt, thank you. Together, we will rescue many girls,” he said as they shook hands when meeting each other for the first time.

Sudir has a team of investigators and social workers. They travel to many rural villages, at times a full 24 hours by bus away from their home town, to perform undercover investigations. He has earned the respect of many officials and police in his region, in spite of his social class, and works in collaboration to rescue women and children from brothels and trafficking. His team will double in size so that Sudir will be leading 10 – 12 brave individuals by the end of the year. This will instantly increase the range of impact in the nation of India.

  • Recently we rescued a girl, 7 years old, along with her 12 year old sister, from a brothel. This particular girl is really special to me as she has no parents and she was kept in a brothel with dirty clothes and no proper food. When we rescued her she was very scared and confused.

    - Sudir

“Each girl I rescue is unforgettable to me,” says Sudir, “Yes. Recently we rescued a girl, 7 years old, along with her 12 year old sister, from a brothel. This particular girl is really special to me as she has no parents and she was kept in a brothel with dirty clothes and no proper food. When we rescued her she was very scared and confused. But it makes me very happy in my spirit to save such a small girl, as she was about to be sold in a matter of days. I am really happy … She is really doing great, and so is her sister. I praise God and thank Him for giving me the opportunity to be associated with Exodus Road to continue the fight against human trafficking.”

It is a joy and honor to have Sudir as a leader with The Exodus Road. We congratulate him, his investigators, and his social workers on the tireless work they are doing in India to free slaves. These are the real national heroes whom we as a community are honored to empower.

*Name changed for security.

BRAVO team 3.15.15 crop
Sudir stands next to a survivor after a raid in India at the beginning of the year

Undercover Run

By Julia Randall

Eighty  people and three dogs raced for rescue in The Exodus Road’s inaugural “Undercover Run” on Saturday, September 5 to support the freedom of trafficked women and children in the US and Asia.

The 5k run was an especially colorful one, as participants in undercover “disguises” such as glasses, masks, wigs, capes and tutus showed their heroic identities by speeding along the course at Cottonwood Creek Park in Colorado Springs.  “I’m running stealth,” joked one racer, who ran holding a bush branch in front of her as “camouflage.”

The morning started with a kid’s Fun Run, where children dressed in superhero gear dashed to win prizes.  It ended with an awards ceremony, emceed by local television personality James Brown, in which winners were given goodie bags with loot from local sponsors.

While the 5k run was full of fun, that wasn’t the only reason people participated—many took part specifically to support TER and its mission.  “We wouldn’t normally do this (run a 5k),” said Breanna Speir of herself and her friends, who have long been acquainted with TER.  As one of her group crossed the finish line to wild cheers, she added, “But we would do this for The Exodus Road.”

“As hard as this (the run) was for us, it’s nothing compared to what The Exodus Road is striving to do,” said Speir.

Jason Morgan won the men’s race in 19:56 and Rachel Quinn took home first place in the women’s category with a time of 22:33.

Martin and Adeline Flower won prizes for best disguises with elaborate costumes that included puffy orange and pink wigs and bright, vintage costumes.

  • Kate Maddux, the Financial Manager for The Exodus Road

    Together we are making an impact by finding and freeing modern day slaves.

    Kate Maddux, the Financial Manager for The Exodus Road

We want to give a heartfelt thanks to everyone who participated in this event, including the runners, organizers, staff and volunteers.

Laura Morgan, the lead volunteer, had this to say when asked about her motivation for helping The Exodus Road:

Laura Morgan in her undercover disguise

Laura Morgan in her undercover disguise

“I volunteer to end the sale of people, to stop the emotional and physical torture of slavery.  Human life is too valuable to be abused and sold as a commodity.  I may not ever see the victims or hear about trafficking during a regular day but they are on my heart and I have to do something to work toward their freedom.  It is not acceptable to pretend this is not happening just because we can’t see it.  To borrow words from Ann Voskamp, “Not on our watch will we let women be made invisible so they can be made usable inventory.”

We are so grateful for Laura and her team of passionate volunteers who helped to make this event a success.

Please remember to post your photos and videos tagged with #UndercoverRun.

We are enormously grateful to our sponsors, who included:

Thanks also to the Concept Restaurant Group and Tru Health Chiropractic for their donations.

Photos by: Taylor Powers

If you would like to Volunteer with The Exodus Road please visit our Volunteer Center page:

BRAVO team Snapshot

We are happy to share with you an update about some recent rescues in India. Join us in congratulating the members of BRAVO team for their hard work. 

The BRAVO team, working to help find and free slaves in India, is led by a director with over 15 years of experience in this field. His keen eye and steady tenacity have resulted in the liberation of many young ladies and boys from trafficking situations. He and his team travel over 24 hours to get to some of the areas where they conduct investigations. These 5 investigators, all nationals, and 2 social workers are present at all the raids. They find the victims, especially minors, then coordinate a raid with police. They then support victims as they give testimony and transition to government care.

BRAVO team in India has experienced a string of successful raids over the last few months. Here are a few highlights of their valiant work.

Please note that, as always, these rescues are performed in partnership with local law enforcement agents. We are proud of the collaborative nature of our BRAVO team members as they seek to work in tandem with the officials of their areas. The Exodus Road will not overstep the jurisdiction of the land, and we are honored to work with local police.

Celebrate with us the freedom of these 11 survivors!


BRAVO team RESCUE report

Pictured below: Riya*. Kiara*. Sai*. Pari*.  Four young girls rescued from sex slavery. One, just 7 years old.

*Names changed to protect their identities.

BRAVO team 8.18.15 06 join us .jpg

We would like to thank the supporters of BRAVO team for their commitment to empower rescue. The consistent donations used to fuel operations like these make all the difference. Thank you! 

Visit the Search & Rescue page to know more how YOU can join this team. Click here: SEARCH & RESCUE

Online Trafficking Syndicate Brought Down

By Julia Randall

World Cup 328365 by Gabriela PintoWhen “Nam” responded to a Facebook post advertising employment, she thought that she would be leaving Thailand to work at a Kuala Lumpur restaurant and club.  Upon her arrival in the foreign city, Nam (name changed to protect her identity) discovered she had been lied to. The “restaurant/club” was a disguised brothel. She was now trapped in the brothel’s apartment, where she was held against her will and forced into sex work.  Nam was not alone in her plight—several other women were caught with her after being similarly tricked.  But Nam showed great courage and found a way to get the help she needed to escape and help secure the freedom of other women who had been deceived—six women were freed in the initial rescue.

A trafficking network that used Facebook and other social media to lure, trick and trap victims into sex slavery was broken up by Thailand’s Department of Special Investigations (DSI) in July 2015. DSI arrested three men for human trafficking.  The Exodus Road collaborated with our partners at Freeland with The Liberty Alliance to assist the DSI by providing information and analysis during the investigative phase and provided aftercare to the several of the freed survivors.

The leader, a Malaysian known as “Boss Steven,” used employment advertisements for club and restaurant jobs to Thai and Vietnamese women, enticing them to travel to Kuala Lumpur with promises of perks and bonuses.  Once the women arrived, they were held captive and forced into sex work.

Khao San Road at night by shankar s.Despite the threat of recrimination, Nam resourcefully found a way to ask for help via an online chat channel.  Nam’s message was eventually received by the trafficking hotline at Freeland, who analyzed the information for authenticity before giving it to Thai authorities, who then conducted a remarkable undercover investigation.

Nam eventually found a chance to sneak out of the brothel compound and find her way to the Thai Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. Concern for Nam’s safety led the DSI to swiftly repatriate her to Thailand, where Freeland and TER sponsored her care while the DSI continued to gather evidence against “Boss Steven” and two of his cohorts.

Nam continued to demonstrate great strength and courage when she faced down fear of retaliation from her traffickers and an arduous process of testimony by continuing to provide information to the DSI.  Nam’s information was not only key in securing the arrest of “Boss Steven” and his partners, but also in freeing other victims.  The Exodus Road is honored to know Nam and to have been able to provide aftercare for her and several other survivors, along with follow-up support and some services.

Because of your generosity and with a shared grant from One Day’s Wages for aftercare services, The Exodus Road was able to sponsor a debt repayment for one of the survivors and pay for medical services for another. We are also in the process of funding the educational fees for several survivors’ children and a motorbike that a survivor will use to launch her business.

We continue to see that fighting trafficking within the legal system is a long, arduous process and that providing services for survivors, especially those who are of age, is equally as difficult. Thankfully, though, we were able to serve as a light along the pathway to freedom for Nam and her friends.

Partner Organizations:

Read more about this story here:

You can know more about aftercare efforts by visiting the FAQ page:  FAQ page

The Child Witness Room

Caring for young survivors of trafficking and exploitation is critical. It’s a vital part of not only building successful cases against their traffickers and abusers, but also shows value and care for them as individuals. We’re pleased to announce we were able to practically support local police efforts to do just that.

Police departments of various regions in Thailand came together to request grant assistance from The Exodus Road to make improvements on the Child Witness Room. Thanks to a donation from One Day’s Wages and the support for after care services given by our own community, we were able to help.

We granted 100,000 Thai baht (about $2,857  USD) this month to the Hot Sub-District Police Station via the Chiang Mai Police Station. The funds will primarily be used to furnish the room with equipment and to replace previous recording devices with high quality ones.

The police have great hopes for the use of this room. They desire:

  • To protect the rights of children and youth according to the law.
  • To have a safe witness room for the children who are victims in all eight police stations in the surrounding areas.
  • To reduce the fear, shame, and stress of the children when they are answering questions.

The room will be a safe, effective place for minors to tell their stories to social workers and the authorities.

The relationships between government officials and aid organizations are strengthened when cooperative efforts are focused on caring for victims. And this project is a sustainable picture of that very type of collaboration.

  • Amm Chutima, Exodus Road Country Director pictured at the far right

    The court process can add to the stress of a child victim. However, ensuring they are adequately prepared as a witness can reduce their anxiety and enable them to better participate in court proceedings. Giving this grant to help improve the room will deeply benefit them.

    Amm Chutima, Exodus Road Country Director pictured at the far right
Grant check given for interrogation room 2

The officials pictured left to right and their positions are as follows:

  1. Lt. Col. Jareewan Puttanurak, Specialist Inquiry Officer Children Women Family Protection and Anti-Human Trafficking Center, Chiang Mai Provincial Police
  2. Col. Teerapol Intaralip, Deputy Commander Chiang Mai Provincial Police in charge of Department of Children Women Family Protection and Anti-Human Trafficking Center
  3. Police Major General Montree Sumboonnanon, Commander of Chiang Mai Provincial Police

Also pictured: Joe Hayes, The Exodus Road Regional Director, and Amm Chutima, The Exodus Road Country Director.

The Exodus Road team celebrates the local police for their commitment to a safe, child-friendly place where survivors can freely share their stories, and we’re grateful to have played a small role in helping to outfit it.

Read more stories about survivors here:

You can know more about aftercare efforts by visiting the FAQ page:  FAQ page

Meet the New Regional Director, SE Asia

Joe HayesWe are happy to introduce you today to the new SE Asian Regional Director, working from the Regional Office in Thailand. Joe Hayes joins The Exodus Road team in a leadership capacity and comes to us with years of cross-cultural management experience. The fact that Joe grew up in Southeast Asia and speaks the language fluently gives him a unique cultural advantage as he works with team members and partners throughout the region.

A primary value we maintain as an organization is the equipping of nationals to effectively fight trafficking in their own communities, and employing a Regional Director like Joe who can bridge the cultural gap is a another step towards that goal. One of Joe’s primary roles is to build capacity and effectiveness for a growing team of national staff.

As you will undoubtedly ascertain from the following interview, Joe is very much interested in the well-being of humanity. We are so honored to welcome him to leadership in the field.

Take a moment to read through his honest answers to the following questions:


What brought you to The Exodus Road?

I have a heart and a burden for the people of Thailand. I am honored to be working closely alongside Matt Parker because of his drive and passion for the people. I feel as though I am among my people. I am one of them. I grew up here in Thailand around poor people and have spent a lot of time with the Khmer refugees. I have a great burden for the people, to see them freed.

So you grew up in Thailand. How do you think this influences your job?

I know I just said that I feel like the Thai people are my people. But at the same time I am a Caucasian man who was raised with North American influences. Even though I grew up thinking I was a Thai person, I am still very much my parents’ son. I can see that my background has prepared me for my management job now. If I can figure out how to motivate the Asian people to work hard to fight trafficking in their own countries and have success as professionals then I have done well.

Talk about what is challenging.

I am an ordinary person. I’m nobody. If I can help free modern day slaves through my management skills I am glad to help. There is pressure because the problem is so huge. What goes on is wicked and wrong.

Talk about what is driving you forward. What is your motivation? 

It’s easy to get involved to help these kids. My drive stems from the needs of the people. I would rather be in the background helping humans. I am learning and building a team of Asians who are passionate and filled with positivity and action to help fight human trafficking. I am honored to be on the team. . . . It’s not about the numbers or the program for me. It’s about the humans. I think the 1 is as important as the 50,000.


Welcome to The Exodus Road team, Joe!

The Girl He Will Never Forget – DELTA Team Video

  • - Scott, Undercover Operative with DELTA team

    I was so overwhelmed. I thought, yeah I’ve read about it, but here it is, right in front of me. Don’t think a day has gone by where I have not wept over what I saw.

    - Scott, Undercover Operative with DELTA team

DELTA Team is composed primarily of qualified expats who are working in counter-trafficking in SE Asia. DELTA includes a partnering investigative organization whom we fund as well as a committed group of deployed volunteers who serve in two week (or more) stints sweeping areas of interest gathering large amounts of data and evidence. These volunteers must pass a rigorous interview and training process before working with us as operatives. Scott* was one of these deployed operatives.

We’ll be hosting another team of eight deployed operatives in September 2015. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as they actively enter dark places on behalf of the oppressed.