2022 was a year of record growth for Destiny Rescue.
We expanded our efforts into new locations, added six new border stations and explored innovative ways to find and rescue victims of sexual exploitation. The results of those efforts are evident:
3,144 people were rescued!
That comes out to more than 60 rescues a week–most of them children.
A way forward
Each one of those rescued still faces challenges, but they now face those challenges with the freedom to choose their path forward.
When she was rescued from a karaoke television (KTV) bar in Cambodia, Sophea chose to become a rescuer herself and helped lead other exploited girls, including her younger sister, into the light of freedom.
Hundreds of other survivors chose to return to their families, become entrepreneurs or go back to school. Their ability to hope and dream again was restored when they were freed from the bonds of exploitation.
Taking down traffickers
As good as the past year was for rescues, it was correspondingly bad for traffickers. We helped police arrest a record number of traffickers (168) and participated in 131 raids–the most in a single year to date!
We built and strengthened relationships with our partners in local law enforcement worldwide. In the Philippines, law enforcement agencies are starting to utilize Destiny Rescue as a partner, routinely using our operatives to assist in investigations and raids. Strengthening relations in Latin America enabled us to play a major role in a massive nationwide raid in 11 locations spanning half the nation!
In Nepal, border agents collaborated with national border guards and police to stop traffickers from smuggling their victims out of the country. The six new border stations we added in 2022 have helped close the gaps in our coverage of routes that traffickers can take out of the country, further constricting their movements and limiting their ability to escape. We’ve become such a trusted presence in local communities that citizens have started contacting our agents to report suspected exploitation!
Reaching the hopeless
Traffickers aren’t the only reason kids face exploitation–more often than not, poverty and desperation are the driving forces. Children are driven into being sexually exploited simply as a means to survive. Many have lost their parents or are burdened with supporting an entire family. For them, selling their bodies is a final resort to make the next meal. In 2022, we rescued 1,070 children from this type of exploitation.
The vast majority of our 806 rescues in Africa qualified as survival rescues. Many children who have lost parents due to war, AIDS or alcohol are swept into brothels that charge outlandish rent to keep the kids trapped.
Others, like Edith, were forced to provide for large families however they could. When Edith heard that one of our projects opened up in the area, she couldn’t join fast enough. While her responsibility to provide for a disabled mother and several siblings is still daunting, the vocational training she received post-rescue gave her options outside of selling herself. When we asked her caseworker about Edith several months after her rescue, his response was as poignant as it was brief, “She is free.”
Finding the lost
Unlike Edith, most victims are unable to come to us; our agents must venture into the darkness of the world of exploitation to find and rescue them.
Before an agent ever sets foot in a KTV bar or beer garden, our investigators spend countless man-hours gathering intel–often online–to identify and locate children being exploited. In other locations, agents foster relationships with local community members to build trust and gain valuable allies with insider knowledge of where abused children might be. Their vital research has led to the rescue of over a thousand victims this year.
In the course of their investigative work, our agents will sometimes come across victims that don’t fall into our traditional target group of sexually exploited children. One such case led to the rescue of over 400 victims of labor trafficking this year. In total, we rescued over a thousand adults and young women as we sought out abused children.
After the rescue
Immediately after being rescued, most survivors are still at very high risk of being trafficked again. The economic and social issues that drove them into the work in the first place don’t disappear the moment we pull them out of an exploitative situation: it takes diligence and outstanding courage on the survivors’ behalves to learn new ways to support themselves and their families.
While some governments, such as the Philippines, run their own rehabilitation programs, we have worked hard to build a network of trusted partners that help rescued kids stay free. We’re proud to announce that 1,299 survivors enrolled in our reintegration programs this year. That’s another new record!
Most of these survivors entered our Community Care Programs, where their recovery began with vital trauma counseling. Prolonged sexual abuse inflicts incredible damage on young souls. After being treated as nothing more than a commodity for so long, our patient counselors help these dear children see that they are so much more in the eyes of their Creator.
Our approach to care is both holistic and unique for each individual. For some, learning soft skills that will help them thrive can be an enormous help; for others, vocational training prepares them to work as entrepreneurs to achieve financial independence. Many of our younger children prepare to return to school while we train their parents on economic empowerment strategies to keep them free.
The path ahead
Despite breaking records this past year, we hope to make an even greater impact in 2023. We’re excited to bring new forces to the fight against sexual exploitation and human trafficking in new locations as we refine the rescue process. The online sexual exploitation of children (OSEC) has exploded in the past few years, and we hope you’ll join us as we explore innovative ways to combat the spreading of evil.
Your gift means freedom
Join an army of freedom fighters standing up against the injustice of child exploitation.
Investing with Integrity
Over the last three years, 80.4% of every dollar we spent was used for programs that benefit the children we defend.
Destiny Rescue is recognized by Guidestar, Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau for our commitment to transparency, accountability and financial integrity.