Nona*, a Destiny Rescue border agent, watched another bus creak to a stop on the side of the dusty road. She climbed aboard and began walking down the narrow aisle inspecting each passenger.
Nona is trained to spot signs and risk factors of human trafficking at the rural border of her home country. She and her team work in partnership with border patrol police. At each station, there are dedicated office spaces used to interview individuals that they suspect are victims or potential victims of human trafficking.
She looked from passenger to passenger noticing minute details and tuning into the demeanor and behavior of each person. Her gaze fell on a teen girl traveling with a young man. After a few precursory questions Nona knew this was likely an instance of trafficking. The answers this couple were giving didn’t add up, so Nona arranged to meet with the young girl, Iniya*, alone in the interview room.
In the interview room, Nona put Iniya at ease and asked a series of specific questions all our agents use to gauge cases of trafficking. Through her inquiries, she was able to uncover the truth. Thirteen-year-old Iniya had met this young man via social media and he had convinced her they were in love and were running away together to get married. Her relatives had married and moved away – this didn’t seem so uncommon. She came from a poor family and the offer of marriage and a stable life in a new city was her dream come true.
After listening to her story, Nona counselled young Iniya on the risks and cases she’s handled of human trafficking across this border. The pieces started to come together and the reality of the situation sank in. This young man had instructed her to lie to both her parents and the border patrols and it quickly became apparent she knew very little about him. Thankfully, unlike other cases Nona has dealt with, he had not abused Iniya prior to attempting the border crossing. Her family was contacted and met up with her and the Destiny Rescue agents to bring her safely home.
We followed up with Iniya and her family a few months later and she is living at home and attending school. The entire family is now aware and able to actively protect their children against the threats of trafficking through social media and other channels.
*Names have been changed to protect identities
Our Approach: Border Rescues
These instances are all too common at the borders our agent’s patrol. Girls and young women in surrounding communities are often undereducated, come from financially-struggling families and have few employment opportunities. They will be approached by what seems to be a man with a kind heart and desire to help. Being offered a job or marriage appears to be the opportunity of a lifetime. But the dark reality is that they are manipulated into circumstances where they lose control and are trafficked into terrible situations. One of the key destination cities on the other side of the border houses large underground brothel networks where girls and young women are abused in horrific ways. Other victims are forced to work jobs in debt bondage with no hope of escape.
Our border agents are local, college-educated women with a passion for justice. They could have prestigious jobs in much more comfortable working conditions. But instead they choose to serve their own communities and use their training to rescue women and girls from human trafficking. The border stations are hot with no air conditioning and large mosquitos, but these dauntless women persist.
Because of their determination, over 150 individuals have been rescued in the past year, on average 3 each week.
Our partnerships with the authorities have helped bring charges against traffickers and even shut down an entire trafficking ring. The need is great and we plan to have a presence at three times as many border-crossing locations in the next year. The location details of these border rescues remain undisclosed for security reasons.
These border rescues (and all rescue efforts) are made possible because of our Rescue Partners. You can join the army of monthly supporters empowering our rescue agents and making freedom a reality for children every day!