All posts in “Ways to Fight Trafficking”

photo by Robert Couse-Baker

Human Trafficking Surveillance in the U.S.

Did you know that trafficking of persons is happening in the United States? Did you know, in the last 6 months alone, there have been significant human trafficking rings busted in Nashville, L.A., and Houston? Did you also know there are ordinary people taking action to stop the trafficking?

According to The Global Slavery Index the estimated number of slaves in the United States is: 57,700 people.

According to The Global Slavery Index the estimated number of slaves in the United States is: 57,700 people.

The Exodus Road volunteers of the TraffickWatch program combat human trafficking taking place in U.S. cities. Vetted and trained individuals surveil target locations where trafficking is suspected. The men and women gather tips that can be used by local law enforcement to stop criminal activity.

Angie, a TraffickWatch operative in Colorado Springs explains the strategy. “After meeting with a team leader we divide into teams and review safety rules. In teams of 2-3 we are sent out to different locations in the community, including hotels, motels, public streets and parks. We check in with our team leader every 30 minutes and meet back at the Tactical Operations Center (TOC) after 2 hours. Once we debrief, we are sent to a new location. Tips are entered into a custom database and shared with the police.”

Justice Necessitates Patience

Many come into the program with expectations of action that are met with the reality of the importance of patience. KC, another volunteer with TraffickWatch in Colorado Springs said, “If [TraffickWatch] has taught me anything, it’s that justice is a long haul. It’s easy to romanticize the pursuit of justice, and to be honest, I imagined the TraffickWatch program to be this grand, exciting experience. But the nights I’ve gone out have been fairly quiet. Most nights you’re begging to see something—not because you want something bad to happen, but because you know it’s already happening and you want to witness it so the police can follow up on it. I went out one night with an army veteran who’d been on several stakeouts, and he shared how you’d watch one spot for hours upon hours, waiting for that one moment something happens—and when it does, suddenly those long hours of waiting are worth it. [TraffickWatch] requires a lot of patience, but its patience that this movement needs. It needs people who are willing to take a few hours out of their night to just sit, wait and watch. Because if several hours and nights lead to freedom for even just one girl or boy, it’s worth it.”

“It’s not just a matter of law enforcement; it’s a matter of moral obligation to end slavery of any kind on this planet, and we have to work at it.”

– Secretary of State John Kerry, TIP Report

“Modern slavery in the Americas affects men, women and children, and has manifested as forced labour, commercial sexual exploitation and, to a lesser degree, forced begging.”

Global Slavery Index

“Today, we continue the long journey toward an America and a world where liberty and equality are not reserved for some, but extended to all. Across the globe, including right here at home, millions of men, women, and children are victims of human trafficking and modern-day slavery. We remain committed to abolishing slavery in all its forms and draw strength from the courage and resolve of generations past.”

– President Barack Obama, TIP Report

TraffickWatch is Making a Difference

With more than 70 volunteers in Colorado Springs, this program is making a difference. We spoke with Emily, one of the TraffickWatch volunteers, about her experience. She said, “Over the last year and a half volunteering, the long hours of sitting in a car waiting and watching, are worth it and rewarding when the tips we bring in result in victims freed from bondage.” Over 100 tips have been collected since the program launched nearly two years ago.

photo by Jay Wennington

“Human trafficking is reportedly the fastest growing crime around the globe,” Angie adds, “According to UNICEF, human sex trafficking is the second largest criminal industry in the world. I’m thankful Colorado Springs has such an amazing program as Exodus Road and I’m grateful to work alongside many intelligent and selfless volunteers.” These individuals have embodied the truth that justice is in the hands of the ordinary. Together we can help bring an end to the trafficking of persons in the United States.

TraffickWatch is Coming to a City Near You

Currently the TraffickWatch program in Colorado Springs is taking a break for the summer. It will resume again shortly. In the meantime, The Exodus Road team is working on plans to expand to other major U.S. cities. Right now we are working on some exciting tech developments which will allow us to expand much more quickly to cities all across the U.S. Stand by and we’ll keep you posted as to how you can become a TraffickWatch volunteer right in your local community.


3 Great Father’s Day Ideas

Father’s Day is June 19. That’s coming up soon! Honor the fathers in your life this Father’s Day with a special gift from our store, shopping with Smile on Amazon, or dedicating a donation.

Empower Rescue Mens t-shirt
Justice t-shirt
Justice Hoodie
amazon smile fathers day 2016
Fathers Day Dedication

“I look at my daughter, if it was her, would someone help her? Then I know that someone has to be me because they are all our sons and daughters.”

From an undercover operative when asked the reason why he cares about modern day slavery

“A Night for Rescue” Annual Benefit Dinner

Colorado Springs – A sold-out crowd gathered in The Pinery at the Hill to fuel freedom with The Exodus Road. The air was alive with a sense of purpose as donors connected with anti-slavery efforts and gave with overwhelming generosity. Long-lasting impact will be made because of what transpired at “A Night for Rescue.”

The evening began with an exclusive Q&A session with undercover operatives, moderated by Kevin Campbell, VP of Global Ops. Each investigator spoke about a specific moment in the field that moved them. They were able to share their personal motivations and answered questions about safety, logistics, and direct rescues.

The dinner guests then perused the silent auction items. The ‘Staycation Package’ provided by Neil Levy and Swiss Chalet of Woodland Park received the highest bid. Other high quality items were donated by Axe and the Oak Distillery, Bristol Brewing CompanyCorner Post Meats, Distillery 291, Old West Cigar Co., Pikes Peak Mountain Bike Tours, and Team Extraordinaire.  Lee Spirits, a local gin distiller, matched and then exceeded a private donation of $1 per “Cheers to Rescue” sold, which resulted in a significant amount raised from drink sales. A piece of live art was created and subsequently offered at the auction by local artist Lois Sprague, who specializes in large scale portraits and murals.

After the gourmet meal, MC Britt Ham of Trine Aerospace and Defense introduced the keynote speaker. Matt Parker, co-founder and CEO of The Exodus Road, shared details of recent rescues in India and Thailand. He spoke passionately about first-hand accounts of resilient survivors and the brave men and women who were integral to their rescue. The stories were inspiring. Rebecca Berry said, “Tonight was amazing! A fire was lit in [my husband] John! His wheels are spinning!” The chair of the event, Michelle Ham, had this to say, “The evening was truly a special one. It encouraged me personally to see so many people of Colorado Springs, Denver and Teller County come together to combat trafficking here in Colorado as well as globally.”

Many people helped make this a successful “Night for Rescue.” Various volunteers, led by Martha Cole, of New Life Downtown, worked alongside the staff team. This evening was also made possible by the generous donations of our Corporate Sponsors (listed below). At the end of the night the participants finalized their donations and silent auction purchases. Valerie and Griffin Stewart, co-founders and owners of 5daydeal, presented a special donation which helped to surpass the goal for the night. Everyone came together in a beautiful singleness of purpose. Altogether, the amount raised to fuel freedom was just over: $52,000. 

Special thanks to Taylor Powers for photographing the event. 
Strong Tower
Pikes Peak Mountain Bike Tours
New Life Downtown
Discovery Church Colorado

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.

Fun Paint n’ Sip Event in Pennsylvania to Aid Counter Trafficking Efforts

In western Pennsylvania a creative idea generated $900 in one night to fuel rescue. They called it ‘Paint n’ Sip’. Earlier this month 48 people painted and sipped wine and other beverages as they learned about The Exodus Road. We asked Kathy, the volunteer who coordinated the evening, to share.

Tell us about this fun event, Kathy:

Last night was a fabulous evening! 48 people attended, all smiling faces claiming they had a great time. Many, many asked for more info on The Exodus Road. Lots of work from a lot of people. Tons of fun!

Why do you feel so strongly about anti-trafficking efforts?

Sometimes your eyes see a photograph or hear a story and your heart is moved to temporary action or funding. Then there are the issues that follow your heart and mind and take root in your life. I found myself researching the realities of human trafficking internationally, within the USA, and locally. The statistics are overwhelming. Women, children, young men bought and sold within a horribly tangled web that went from being invisible to visibly real. Awareness has fueled my heart. I am unable to be silent. I will be a part of the rescue and recovery of modern day slaves. One day at a time.

What would you say to someone who wants to be an abolitionist but doesn’t know where to start? 

Read. Volunteer. Research. Volunteer. Speak with reputable organizations. Volunteer. Ask questions. Volunteer. Verify statistics. Volunteer. Utilize your gifts. Volunteer. Repeat.

Many thanks to all the people who attended this event and helped empower rescue. Contact information for Jeff, the Volunteer Relations Manager, can be found following the photos if you are interested in hosting a similar event. Enjoy these beautiful pictures!

Paint and Sip 10.15 01 collage
Paint and Sip 10.15 01 group

If you have a passion, consider turning that passion into an event that fuels literal rescue. Whether it’s a sponsored run, a house party, or profits from a lemonade stand, never underestimate the power of fighting slavery, right where you are, with your people, doing something you already love.

For more info contact: Jeff Flacker, Volunteer Relations Manager, by email or phone 719-645-4499. Or visit the Volunteer Center page:  Volunteer Center

“A Night of Rescue” Annual Benefit 2015

title A Night of Rescue Annual Benefit 2015

A shared enemy binds people together with one of the strongest connections known to humanity. We are anti-slavery. We are anti-human-trafficking. We are abolitionists.

This spirit was felt among the 180 individuals who gathered to support The Exodus Road in June at the annual benefit “A Night of Rescue”. We long to be known not only by what we are against, but by what we are for. Each one of us share a heart to help find and free slaves. We know that we can see a world free of slavery, and we are willing to make that happen. We are for freedom.

David Zach We are abolitionists

The Exodus Road held it’s annual benefit the evening of Thursday, June 18. People came from near and far to the lovely Nosh restaurant in downtown Colorado Springs.  We had a fun time getting to know each other and eating gourmet food.

Special guest band Remedy Drive sang songs of freedom from their album ‘Commodity’. Lead singer David Zach shared about his experiences as an undercover operative in South East Asia. The crowd was touched by his poetic storytelling.

As the sun set in the twilight of the evening Matt Parker shared about the desperation of poverty and the hope of freedom. He gave insider details about recent rescues that had taken place because of the sacrificial efforts of The Exodus Road investigative teams. We were swept to the high seas of a slave ship. We were led through jungle slave camps. We heard the cries for freedom from so many bound as indentured slaves. We felt the truth that justice is in the hands of the ordinary as we each held rocks representing those in captivity.

All who came knew that the idea was to raise funds so more people could be set free. Together we raised $29,180 through: donations, the silent auction, the iPad giving stations, and the new text-to-give option. (Text to 41444 the code SENDRESCUE for more info.)

Speaking on behalf of The Exodus Road team allow me to express our deepest gratitude for the participation of each individual who attended this event. We are honored to be a part of such a stellar group of dedicated donors.

Enjoy this video with clips from the night!

A New School for Omkoi

A cinder block building sits in the middle of Omkoi, a village, near Chiang Mai, Thailand. Every weekday, small children pour through its door to begin memorizing beautiful characters comprising the Thai written language. To villagers, this building represents hope and progress.

It is, of course, a school.

Ma Sot school 5

The school was built last fall after the Exodus Road hosted a team of volunteer workers from The Grove, a church in Chandler, Ariz. Those volunteers worked tirelessly to construct the building. They hammered boards, built walls and even found ways to help pay for the project.

They knew the area, like many in Northern Thailand, desperately needed more schools.

The new buildings sits between the Tung Kwang and Baan Kun villages, neither of which have educational facilities. Every day, children as young as 6 have to wake up early and trudge the five kilometers to the nearest classroom. After lessons end, they have to walk the entire way back.

Now, the youngest students are learning close to home. The new school in Omkoi targets 4 and 5 year-olds who, previously, had no educational opportunities, at all. They had no bright classrooms in which to learn to read, and they had no cheerful teachers to help them learn to count.

Ma Sot school 1

The Exodus Road partnered with Sean Abbott at True Vine Farms to change this. True Vine is a collection of organic farms throughout the Chiang Mai area that provides locals with fresh, environmentally responsible produce. Sean desires to improve general life in the area and has promoted education as a means of fighting human trafficking. Needless to say, Sean’s goals and dreams align with ours.

So, when an opportunity arose to partner with Sean and True Vine and to help create a new space for education in Omkoi, we readily agreed.

Now, education in Omkoi has changed. The school is already holding classes and jump-starting education for tiny students in surrounding villages. The government also has assigned a teacher from a nearby village to begin lessons, and community members have volunteered to cook lunches for the students. The villagers have welcomed this gift.

The building also has dual purpose now and serves as a daycare as well as a school. Parents have a safe, secure place to bring their young children before returning to work in their fields.

Ma Sot school 10

A solid partnership between our organization, True Vine Farms and The Grove changed the community in and around Omkoi, and that community will feel the effects of that change for years to come. Students will have more opportunities and parents will continue to work without worrying about children at home.

The Exodus Road wants to continue changing lives in more than just brothels. Through our partnerships, we want to affect communities throughout SE Asia.

prevention intervention and after care

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

Teens vs. Traffickers: School Club in Los Angeles Fights Slavery

Bows copyStudents at Downey High School in Los Angeles, Calif., are fighting human trafficking from their classrooms. Although they live normal, American lives, they know millions of teens around the world don’t enjoy the same the freedoms and live in slavery, instead.

And these students care deeply.

About 40 of them, led by faculty member Charissa James, have formed a club this year, called Stop the Traffick, and have raised awareness about the issue along with funds for The Exodus Road.

“The more people know, the more people will care, and the sooner it will end,” club secretary and senior Nicolas says.

Before the club even started, James’ heart was breaking for those around the world who suffered sex slavery, and she wanted to enlighten her students to the reality of this injustice. She felt a partnership among The Exodus Road, her school and her students would do the trick.

“I felt certain that your [ER’s] philosophy of work would be palatable to my public school and recruited student leaders who read books with me over the [2014 summer break] about modern slavery and anti-trafficking efforts, including your book, ‘The Exodus Road,’” she writes in an email.

In the fall, James, a modern American history teacher, asked fellow Downey U.S. history teachers to combine a lesson on Civil War slavery with information about modern sex trafficking among minors. After the lesson, James and her student leaders invited teens to watch “Sex and Money: a National Search for Human Worth,” a documentary on sex trafficking. The history teachers also encouraged their classes to attend the showing, which—along with their studies in modern trafficking—stirred compassion in many students.

“These students associate slavery with the trans-Atlantic slave trade, which ended long ago, so most were surprised that forms of slavery still exist, especially in America,” James says. “However, their shock was quickly followed by both empathy and activism. They immediately wanted to know what they could do to help.

Stop the Traffick had officially begun.

So far, these teens have raised more than $1000 for The Exodus Road through donations and through concessions at the documentary screening, through a Chick-Fil-A fundraiser and through key chain and bow sales. They’ve also had plenty of help from school faculty. Many teachers offered extra credit for students who attended the screening, and the art department has created moving promotional material. Art teachers have helped designed Stop the Traffick’s t-shirts, and one advanced art class has created haunting charcoal pieces that the club can use to raise awareness.

Untitled copy

“Our administration has been incredibly supportive, and I regularly get e-mails from teachers supporting the club’s efforts,” James says.

But, she is especially proud of her club members and their commitment to Stop the Traffick’s cause. In addition to helping others, she believes the club will also benefit its members, encouraging their empathy and compassion and teaching them to use whatever resources they possessed to confront problems.

And these lessons seem to have sunk in. Students know they have the ability to change the status quo.

“Human trafficking is an issue that most people don’t know about, or they think it’s a past issue,” junior Ana says. “We have all of these laws in our government trying to keep everyone safe, and this issue seems neglected. Sometimes neglected ideas need just a few people to start a change.”

And they feel for others who children and teens who are forced to sell their bodies for someone else’s profit.

“It’s important to let kids who are in danger know that there’s someone out there helping them,” junior Joselyn says. “We know that they feel lonely, and that they don’t have anyone with them, so raising money and awareness is a way to let them know that we are here for them, and we want to help protect them.”

James says she hopes the club can eventually partner with a rural international school that prevents trafficking by educating young girls. However, that’s a long-term goal. For the time being, the club will continue to raise awareness and funds.

And in doing so, it will cultivate a generation of young men and women who know they have the power to fight injustice.



You can watch a brief personal Thank You Message The Exodus Road in SE Asia sent to Stop the Traffick via youtube, as well.


priceless cube

Priceless Cube Training Event in Pattaya, Thailand. October, 2014.

The fight to end human trafficking isn’t waged only during brothel raids. Sometimes, it’s waged in places where people have yet to be enslaved.

And though our core competency lies in empowering interventions, we also partner with government agencies and several other organizations to address both prevention and recovery projects. We know we can’t eradicate slavery alone, and we want to encourage and empower as many people and partner organizations as possible.

This past October, we helped sponsor a Priceless Cube Training session in Pattaya, Thailand. Over the course of a few hours, Priceless Cube founders KJ and Jenni Jessen explained how to use this storytelling resource to educate others about the mechanisms and dangers of human trafficking.

The Priceless Cube itself is a tool that uses seven illustrated panels to start conversations about trafficking prevention. It covers topics such as the value of human life, truth and deception, responsible oversight for children and strong stances against trafficking. This training equipped roughly 15 participants and NGO leaders to use the cube in discussions with Thais whose friends and family could be at risk. (Take a moment to watch the Priceless Cube video here.)

For ER staff, this training was important. “We really saw this event bring the anti-trafficking community in the region together,” ER Strategic Alliance Manager Juli  said. “We networked, collaborated, listened, learned and simply shared time together. It was a space for us to come together for one day and learn about an integral part of anti-trafficking work: prevention.”

The event itself was an act of partnership between nonprofits that worked with different aspects of anti-trafficking. While the Jessens conducted the training, Thrive Rescue, an organization that helps rehabilitate trafficked boys and girls, provided meeting space in its community center. ER sponsored the event financially and covered logistics.

In addition to the October event, we were also able to participate in a second Priceless Cube Training event with 25 indigenous leaders from the Mekong Region, including Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Myanmar, which was hosted by AIPP (Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact). Founders, KJ and Jenni Jessen were able to lead the training event which empowered local women to return to their local communities with Priceless Cubes and information of how to avoid trafficking in their villages. We were able to provide gift bags for each attendee which included small personal gifts, information about trafficking hotlines, and a Priceless Cube of their own.

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 11.09.12 AM

Asst. Country Director, Amm, packs gift bags for the 25 indigenous leaders.

In general, ER couldn’t work without such inter-organizational teamwork. “Whether through a grant, covert gear loan or hosting events in which expertise is shared, the Exodus Road greatly values its partnerships with regional NGOs and law enforcement,” Juli said. “These examples of resource sharing demonstrate the importance of collaboration in fighting human trafficking.”

And please, check out Priceless Cube Thrive Rescue, Liberty Alliance, and AIPP — all vital organizations and resources on the ground here in SE Asia. In addition, watch a video clip on our instagram feed (@theExodusRoad) of the training itself by going HERE.

priceless cube event

Fueling Rescue With a Ring

Bliss stamped jewelry

The bottom line was never the most important thing for sisters Michelle and Jaqui when they created Bliss Stamped Jewelry, a business that grew out of their desire for a creative outlet while raising their young children.  

“We always wanted to be a blessing wherever we could, no matter what,” recalled Michelle.  “Opportunities always seem to come to us to bless others.  We love giving back and always want to maintain a giving spirit.”

So when the opportunity to partner with The Exodus Road for the “Let Freedom Ring” campaign emerged, Bliss Stamped Jewelry was thrilled.  The issue of human trafficking and sex slavery had been something Michelle deeply cared about when she first learned about the horrific realities faced by the victims, but according to her,  

“When I became a mom, [the issue] was something that hit much closer to home, and I started to become passionate about the [anti-trafficking] cause.”  

Each year, Michelle, her husband, and children travel to Los Angeles to visit and volunteer with an organization that serves marginalized individuals, including those who have been victims of human trafficking.

We at The Exodus Road have deeply enjoyed building a relationship with Bliss Stamped Jewelry and are excited to feature two of their rings especially designed for our community here. Both the unisex and feminine rings read “free” — a reminder to the wearers of both the freedom we enjoy and what we as a community fight to give others.

This month only, Michelle and Jaqui are generously donating $13 from each ring purchased to directly fund rescue by The Exodus Road and our partners. We’re hoping to sell at least 500 in November, so we’d love for you to consider purchasing one (or more!) for yourself or your holiday list. You can click on the photo below to head on over to Bliss to make your purchase (and check out their shop, while you are at it!).

You can also check out our giveaway, in the first week of November, HERE

And as a community, we are deeply grateful for advocates like Michelle and Jaqui, who are entering into this battle for freedom so generously.

let freedom