All posts in “Trainings”

The Exodus Road Bangkok Training January 2016

Team Training in Bangkok

By: Corinne Shark

In January, we kicked off this calendar year with a multi-regional Exodus Road training comprised of 23 of our executive leaders, managers, regional lead investigators and volunteer investigators from Asia, India and the U.S. who all converged in Bangkok, Thailand for the event. The conference room buzzed with vision, information, stats, cultural context and legal processes. Digital presentations and manuals were dissected point by point. Expectations and conduct, objectives and standards were emphasized. Personal testimony and actual video footage stoked the flame within even the most seasoned operatives, bringing every detail, every number, back to real victims with real names.

Training is vital to the success of every rescue with which The Exodus Road is involved, because while the issue of human trafficking is extremely emotional, our search and rescue work is anything but.

  • Training creates a more well-rounded understanding for everyone involved. It’s important for our staff to see what our investigators go through. It opens their eyes to the difficulties each of us experience and humanizes the whole process of this work.

    -Jim*, Regional Director

Training protects the victim. We place a high value on our victim-centered approach and believe training our teams is imperative in maintaining this focus.  Every member of the team, from undercover investigators to office staff, employs strategy and protocol at every turn in effort to protect the minors we are working to see freed from further danger and exploitation.

Training protects the investigator. Equipping our teams to assess and manage risk factors and to exercise safety tactics as they collect evidence in both red-light districts and rural villages is essential.  Even though many of our operatives are former military/law enforcement, the darkness they engage night after night requires a heightened level of vigilance and self-care. We are committed to their health and well-being as they leverage their strengths on behalf of the vulnerable.

Training protects the big picture. We believe lasting change is found in empowering the national authorities as they engage the issue of human trafficking within their borders. Educating our staff and teams on our supporting role facilitates positive relations with local law enforcement as well as maintains our value on contributing to long term systemic change.

Thailand 1.16 046 Training in Bangkok

  • I am happy to have been able to transfer some of the knowledge to my operations team. Also, it was great to meet members of the volunteer team from the U.S. They are great people with good hearts coming here to help victims of human trafficking.

    - Som Piyathamsawat, Operations Manager
Here at The Exodus Road we know successful raids, rescues and prosecutions begin with teams armed with more than just good intentions. We invest in the training of our staff and investigators because we know it will yield the freedom of many. Boys and girls, men and women. Victims of unspeakable violence. More than just a number. Each one, a name.

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An Interview with Undercover Operatives

Interview with Undercover Operatives

The Exodus Road: Thank you, Carl* and Robert*, for talking with us today about your recent experience as undercover operatives for The Exodus Road. We want to ask a few questions so others can get an idea of what it’s like to be an operative in Asia. So, let’s get started!

First, can you tell us about the vetting process and your preparation time? 

Carl: Based upon my initial vetting, I was not sure what to expect. I had visions of very unknown territories, and I felt almost nervous. However, I was very pleased and not stressed at all. Of course, I have been to Asia three times now and was familiar with some of the places and areas.

I would rate the trip 10, and I’m looking forward to another deployment!

TER: Thanks! What feedback can you give us about your training in Asia?

Carl: I felt very equipped and comfortable. I loved practicing with the equipment and getting used to the environment.

Robert: One thing I liked about our first assignment was that we observed a target. With this assignment, it allowed us to ease into the work.  … I believe this is important for first-time agents so they do not feel too overwhelmed.

TER: Did you feel safe during the investigations?

Carl: I always felt safe and felt everything was planned out well and executed well. I’m sure there was always more potential danger than most may have realized, but did feel like there was always an extra set of eyes and hands with us from a supernatural standpoint!

TER: How did you feel about your team of undercover operatives? Did you get along and work well together?

Robert: Great connection with the entire team. The morning debriefs were a great addition to the day. This allowed us to share and bond even more. Each agent was praised in front of the team, and I felt what we were doing is and will continue to make a difference.

TER: What were the biggest challenges you faced as an undercover operative?

Carl: It’s hard to explain. I have been on many mission trips, and I somewhat knew what to expect. But, when I actually walked in the houses selling 12-t0-16-year-old girls, I was so overwhelmed. I thought, “Yeah I’ve read about it, but here it is, right in front of me.” I wanted to weep, but I sucked it up and did what needed to be done. I don’t think a day has gone by where I have not wept over what I saw. I will be praying and remembering their faces often.

TER: What were the highlights of the trip for you? Or, what impacted you the most?Investigator quote about human trafficking work

Carl: I would say the H-1* case has impacted me the most. I saw so many young girls, and I knew I got to go and sleep in a room about a half a mile away. But for the rest of that night and every night since, they have been sold. I know I was able to lay a brick by gathering new video footage. If I could complete the wall or be another part of it, I would fly back next week. … I’m so grateful for that opportunity and for the role I was allowed to play.

I would also say being able to sit and talk with a Ugandan trafficked girl was very eye opening. To transition from playing the role of a sex tourist to a man who cared and could actually speak life into her future was very rewarding.

 

Robert: The biggest highlight has been bonding with the team and making life-long friendships in a way most people never will. Watching the video and getting just the right screen capture is always very fulfilling for me. Having the opportunity to hand off cases to the police and see them agreeing with the team’s assessment was a big plus.

TER: Is there someone you met during your trip who you will never forget?

Carl: A little girl I saw and was able to record in the H-1 area. … She was maybe 12 years old or 13. I remember her smile and laughter as I tried to repeat her name and messed it up. She looked so innocent, and yet I won’t forget the things she had to do.

Robert: I did not get her name but there was a girl on the dance floor who was holding onto one of the poles and looked like if she could, she would melt into the pole and disappear. She wanted to be anywhere but where she was, and my heart broke knowing she couldn’t leave.

*Name changed

These responses have been edited for length, grammar and clarity.

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