Tuesday, 21 September 2021
“Modern Slavery isn’t legal anywhere but happens almost everywhere, including here in Australia. Slaves are forced to work, without pay, under the threat of violence. They cannot walk away. There are more slaves today worldwide than at any other time of human history.” – Karine Woldhuis (For Freedom co-lead)
In 2018, SIM International launched its global anti-trafficking ministry, ‘For Freedom
’. The ministry is responsible for coordinating SIM’s global response to trafficking and exploitation.
is focused on the prevention of human trafficking and the protection of those most at risk. The team believes that in every country, isolated and unconnected individuals are at the greatest risk of being trafficked. The local community and the local church have a key role in preventing human trafficking by building relationships and caring for the vulnerable in their communities. By providing training, support and strategic guidance to SIM workers, local churches and partner ministries throughout the world, For Freedom
works to mobilise and equip the global church in the fight against trafficking and slavery.
Karine said, “Trafficking causes untold suffering in many of the communities where SIM works but often goes undetected due to its complex and illegal nature. SIM has the opportunity to make a valuable contribution to the prevention of trafficking and the protection of people at risk of exploitation through its active presence in local communities in the 70+ countries we work in.”
As well as training SIM workers, ministries and partners, For Freedom
also empowers local churches to engage in anti-trafficking efforts and actively collaborates with other organisations responding to trafficking.
In the past year, COVID-19 has created a large mass of people at risk of trafficking due to lack of access to education caused by isolation measures, economic strain for those who unable to work and inadequate access to support^.
“COVID-19 is leaving millions more people vulnerable and at extreme risk of being trafficked and exploited,” explained Karine. “We have to engage local churches in preventing trafficking from occurring in their communities. More than ever before we have to start living out our biblical mandate to protect the vulnerable.”
Recently, For Freedom
was able to equip a SIM project, Windows of Hope, and empower the ministry to play their part in protecting those at risk of exploitation.
Windows of Hope is a well-established SIM partner ministry working with orphans and vulnerable children across Zimbabwe. For Freedom
connected with the ministry in 2019 and developed specific training for its team, addressing the high risk of trafficking facing these vulnerable kids and communities.
The program was included as part of their annual training for facilitators and volunteers working in the Community Health Care and the Orphans and Vulnerable Children ministries. These sessions were identified by participants as the most “touching and helpful new presentations” received and were met with a real desire to use these core protection messages at “any available opportunity presented in their daily work”.
These workers at the grassroots understand the real risk of trafficking facing their communities and, once armed with the necessary skills and tools, are a powerful force for helping prevent trafficking happening around them. One woman, Blessing*, who received help from Windows of Hope faced circumstances that sadly represents the story of many others.
Blessing was desperate for an income so in December 2019 she applied for a job on the internet in the capital of Mozambique. On arrival, Blessing was then taken to another city where she was forced to work in a brothel. Blessing had been tricked. Refusing to comply, Blessing was threatened with death. She was later forced into commercial sex work for four months. Managing to escape, Blessing found a way to sneak back into Zimbabwe in mid-2020.
Windows of Hope has been hard at work identifying survivors of trafficking that have returned to Zimbabwe during COVID-19. The team are providing much needed care to men and women who have experienced the trauma of trafficking.
Blessing's experience of trafficking and slavery is the story that For Freedom
is seeking to prevent for others. Please pray for this vital work as For Freedom
seeks to partner with ministries and vulnerable communities to protect people at risk so their story is one of hope, security and opportunity for a brighter future. Give thanks for Blessing’s safety and pray for continued healing from trauma. Pray for the Windows of Hope team as they journey with her.
*Name changed to protect identity and representative image used
PRAY & FIND OUT MORE:
Would you or your church like to partner with For Freedom
? Visit sim.org.au/forfreedom
to pray, give and find out how you can serve with For Freedom
^J. Nash, Australian Institute of International Affairs, 2020
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