Nandita* left her home, her parents, and traveled hours across the vast country of India with the promise of a new job and the possibility of a future that held opportunity. She had so little as a child. She had never attended school, and now, as a young woman, she was eager for work and a new chapter in her life. But Nandita had unknowingly fallen prey to a lie. She was delivered to a hotel brothel, and her body was sold to multiple “customers” a day. The days became weeks.
Meanwhile, The Exodus Road's Team of national operatives obtained the proof needed by local law enforcement of Nandita's trafficking. In the course of their investigations, they also found evidence of three other women and two teenage boys. The team worked with local police and helped with the rescue mission for Nandita and the five others suffering abuse.
Thankfully, The Exodus Road also had crisis care workers on site during the mission -- an event which is often full of chaos and confusion for the victims. They gave intentional care to the survivors and met immediate needs while the survivors' testimonies were processed at the police station and their traffickers were arrested.
Soon after the rescue mission, Nandita and the remaining survivors were placed in the care of the Social Welfare Department where each person was kept safe, given basic medical evaluations, and evaluated for further services, such as repatriations, home evaluations, or education or job training resources.
While Nandita was rescued from a brothel that day, her journey towards true freedom was really only just beginning.
The Exodus Road and Aftercare
Human trafficking rescue is truly the first step in a long journey towards true restoration and healing. While The Exodus Road's core competency and primary focus is to support police in finding and freeing those caught in human trafficking, we also believe in the critical role of aftercare for survivors. These courageous men, women, and children have endured incredible abuse and need specialized care and resources to be restored to healthy, secure lives as members of their own communities. To that end, we are always open to strategic opportunities to support aftercare efforts in the countries where we operate. Currently, here are three ways we invest in survivor care.
#1 We Employ Social workers to Provide crisis care
We employ local social workers as an integral part of our Search + Rescue teams in each country where we work. Arrest of the traffickers and rescue of the survivors can be a disorienting, traumatic experience, and the social workers are typically present to assure survivors of their safety, answer questions, meet immediate needs, explain what is happening, and clarify that the survivors are not under arrest. Our social workers also provide follow-up and individualized care and case management, as they are able. Social workers are primarily part of TER staff, but there are some instances where we contract or support social workers in partnering after care organizations.
#2 We support aftercare organizations
We support efforts of local, private aftercare shelters in countries where we work that specialize in caring for human trafficking victims. These vetted partners provide medical and psychological exams to survivors, offer job trainings or education so that survivors are prepared for employment upon leaving the aftercare shelter, and offer counseling restorative programming. We support projects at these partnering organizations such as providing: grant funding, legal fees, capital expenses, specific needs of survivors, educational fees, and other resources to improve quality of life for those in the care of the organization.
Many survivors are placed directly in the care of the local Social Welfare Departments in Thailand, India, and Latin America. The length of time each survivor spends under the care of the government shelters depends on each person’s situation, their age, and the resources available. If the situation allows, we will offer support and services for the local Welfare Departments to help care for survivors, as well.
#3 We Promote Survivor-made products
Another avenue in which we can support survivors of human trafficking is by choosing fair trade, and specifically, survivor-made products like handmade jewelry, clothing, art, and home decor. We offer survivor-made products for purchase at fundraising events and our annual gala. It's a simple way to walk alongside survivors and support their healing journeys.
If you'd like to learn more about the work of The Exodus Road and our commitment to survivors, you may like to read about our intervention work, download our free ebook on sex trafficking, watch one of our favorite videos about a sex trafficking survivor named Jami, or read about the 21 survivors who were married into freedom.
*Name is representational
Read more about aftercare in human trafficking.