Three thousand. It’s a milestone. A reason to rejoice.
Destiny Rescue is celebrating the rescue of its 3,000th trafficking survivor from the sex trade.
A raid on a brothel in the Philippines in early July with anti-trafficking police rescued 26 victims of human trafficking – taking the total number of survivors rescued to 3,006 – an impressive number of lives saved since Destiny Rescue began recording rescues in 2011.
This is a momentous occasion; a real milestone for our organization,” says Founder and International President Tony Kirwan. “We have been relentless in pursuing freedom for children for over 16 years now, and to reach this number is encouraging, not just for us, but for every single individual we have helped along the way.
Destiny Rescue has operations in Thailand, Cambodia, India, the Philippines, Dominican Republic and an undisclosed location in Southeast Asia. It began rescuing children from the sex trade in 2006.
“The beginning was a steep learning curve as we endeavoured to navigate the trafficking world where children were being sold by the hour,” Mr Kirwan says. “I remember the first six months of attempting rescues we had a 100 percent failure rate, yet we were undeterred in our pursuit to rescue these children. It wasn’t long until we started to get traction, kicking goals and learning from our mistakes along the way. It wasn’t always perfect but we knew we had the makings of a great formula for bringing children to complete freedom, and we’re seeing the fruit of that now.”
Destiny Rescue rescued 105 children in 2011, then doubled its rescues to 220 in 2012, then 410 in 2013, before flattening off for the following years until last year when it rescued 620 victims of sexual exploitation; some of them over the age of 18.
“While we celebrate reaching our 3000th rescue, it’s important to remember that the three thousand figure represents three thousand individuals,” Mr Kirwan says. “That’s three thousand daughters and sons, three thousand sisters and brothers – three thousand individuals who have inherent dignity, infinite worth and are entitled to their freedom. Let’s not forget we are talking about human beings, not numbers.
“But since we are celebrating this milestone, the number is important. Yes, I am all about the number, a huge all-encompassing number; we want the number rescued to equal the number of those children enslaved. We are in this to end it, not just skirt around the edges”.
Most of the 3,000 rescues have come through Destiny’s undercover operations: rescue agents posing as customers enter bars and brothels, gain the trust of children being sold, then offer them a way out when the time is right. The remainder have come through rescue/raid operations in collaboration with anti-trafficking police.
Survivors are rehabilitated in Destiny Rescue’s care or with partner organizations, and given education and training to enable them to find sustainable employment upon reintegration.