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21 posts from April 2010

April 15, 2010

Stop Sex-Trafficking Before It Begins

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Many of you have asked what can be done to stop sex-trafficking before it begins.

In a country like Moldova, there is little happening in regards to stopping sex-traffickers. We heard story after story of traffickers abducting kids all over the country. It takes time to establish strong programs and work with solid partners. Our plan is to focus on Rescue and Restoration at first, while we are working on Prevention.

In Russia, it's a different story. We've been working here since 1994 and have a number of programs that stop sex-trafficking before they begin.

Let me tell you about Masha. Masha left the orphanage at 15 and was sent to a tech school--an underfunded holding tank for kids who learn how to lay brick or paint walls.

One day, a group of professional looking, wealthy women came to the school and interviewed the girls for the best jobs in Russia.

They were promised fancy clothes, expensive jewelry, and all the money they could hope for if they were selected.

Masha was chosen, and she thought her dreams had come true.

She was taken to the city center, put in a rundown apartment and beaten.

They forced her to work in a strip club.  Then, they told some men were coming to her apartment to train her to learn how to have sex with a man--how to "please" him.

"You'll be pleasing 10 men each day," they said.

Masha quickly realized this dream had turned into a ugly nightmare. She was hours away entering the sex trade. The life of a forced prostitute awaited her, and she was scared to death.

While this was unfolding, she remembered the staff at Children's HopeChest. "Could they help me?"

She told me how she remembered how much our staff cared for her and other orphans. She knew exactly where to go. She had a plan. She walked out the door and ran to the HopeChest Ministry Center in Kostroma.

Our staff immediately called the authorities, and brought her to a safe place to live so she'd be protected.

Young girls like Masha, and the women in the Young Mothers Program are the most vulnerable to trafficking and forced prostitution like this.

Young Mother's

Our Young Mother's Program provides daily ministry and services to mothers and children through our Ministry Center.

These young moms, are taught how to care for their babies by a professional nanny. They can drop their kids off to the nursery there so they can go to work or school.  The Ministry Center provides Young Mothers with the help they need at this critical stage in their life.

This is what Prevention looks like.

We are able to help hundreds of girls because of the Ministry Center and the Young Mothers Program. These are some of the best programs HopeChest offers in Russia. To find out more details about our Ministry Center outreach, we've posted details on this special page If you would like information on supporting the Young Mothers Program, please download this PDF for a full overview.

To give now, click the button below and put Young Mothers or Ministry Centers in the notes section.

Thanks so much for following our journey and being a part of making a difference. Leaving Kostroma and off to Vladimir Region!

April 13, 2010

When Love Goes Around...

Another great day with young ladies in our  Young Mothers Program here in Kostroma, Russia. We spent the afternoon talking to these courageous young ladies in HopeChest's Young Mothers Program. I presented each mother with a HopeChest Love Goes Around necklace--the same ones you can buy as a Mother's Day gift this year.


About five years ago, we started getting calls from our older orphan girls who were pregnant, scared, and unsure of what to do next. We know that about 40 percent of today’s Russian orphans are the children or grandchildren of orphans.

There’s a clear pattern of “orphans-making-orphans,” and we set out to break that cycle.

Right now, these young women—the girls and their babies you saw in the video— have chosen to keep and raise their children, and are becoming wonderful mothers. It is truly a transformational program.

This Mothers Day, Children’s HopeChest is partnering with AdoptionFathers.com to bring you the Love Goes Around necklace. When you buy this necklace for your mother, wife, sister, or daughter, proceeds will support the women in the video you saw and help victims of sex trafficking in Moldova.

CLICK TO BUY THE NECKLACE

This beautiful, limited edition, hand-made necklace will make an incredible Mother’s Day gift. It was custom-designed with a message so perfectly created, that it speaks to both the mom who will receive it, as well as the women in Moldova and Russia who will receive the gift of support and hope, when you buy it. That message is LOVE GOES AROUND.

The success of the Young Mothers Program depends on the support we provide from the United States. You can buy your Loves Goes Around This proposal briefly describes the program, provides some testimonials, and shows the impact your giving can make.

Don't delay. Click the photo of the necklace below to get your Love Goes Around 2010 Mother's Day Necklace and support a young mother in Russia today.

April 12, 2010

How You Can Stop Sex-Trafficking

Our team is now in Russia! I'm excited to see a different side of tackling this issue which I'll talk about in the days to come.

I cannot describe how broken my heart is over what happens to orphans and vulnerable children. The sex-trade is the most evil propagated in the life of a child on the face of the earth. WE MUST DO SOMETHING! To respond, we've launched the "Stop the Secret" campaign to help heal and restore girls who have been trafficked. Click on this link right now to find out how you can be involved: Help Moldova. Or go to: www.hopechest.org/support-moldova.

Thanks for caring so much. Love to you all from Kostroma, Russia. 

HopeChest Opens Moldova from Tom Davis on Vimeo.

April 09, 2010

How Do You Feel About the Sex Trade?

Anne Talking About What's Happening in Moldova from Tom Davis on Vimeo.

April 08, 2010

Sex Traffickers and the Craziest Day...Ever

Today, we meet a psychologist to girls who have been rescued from the sex-trade.

As we walk down the street, she tells us she has a "surprise" waiting at our destination. I'm up for surprises. In fact, I kind of flow with them. The day is clear, a slight breeze is blowing, and for the first time I don't even need my Northface jacket. We sit down in an outdoor cafe with green umbrellas and Ahmad tea signs all around. Reminds me of Kiev and the sun feels good. 

"Do you want to know why I brought you here?" Nothing to fear, no need to worry. Of course we do. The black stuff in my cup isn't real good so it's not the best espresso in the city. "Why are we here?"

"One of the girls you will meet was trafficked from this restaurant."

What...did...you...say? At that moment, my world changed. The crowded city street was a different place. A man from the Middle East appeared over Anne Jackson's right shoulder. Something about him, it wasn't right. 

"In fact, they're here right now. And so are the girls who are being trafficked. They lure girls here for a job. Then they are sent to Turkey, Israel, and Russia."

I saw them. Teenagers draped with blond and brunette curls. You've got to be kidding me. And I've brought Anne here? I mean Simon and Brad are one thing, but a girl? Someone I'm responsible for, and I've brought her into the midst of a den filled with sex-traffickers? I looked to the right and saw two more men emerge out of the restaurant. They weren't Moldovan. Simon's camera didn't help things. He was shooting pictures and video faster than Usain Bolt runs the hundred yard dash. 

TraffickingPigsNow we're the center of attention. We tried to play it cool, acting like we belonged there and were just shooting a plain 'ol video about life in the big city. My chest got a little bigger, my sixth sense a little stronger. If there was ever a time I longed to be a CIA agent. 

An overweight, middle aged man sits down with a young girl at a table ten feet from us. She might be seventeen. We captured the photo. She bats her eyes and tries to impress her. He hands her a wad of cash for last nights exploits. TraffickerI'm sickened beyond explanation. And then I realize, this happens every single day. What am I suppose to do? Turn a blind eye? Pretend this evil doesn't exist? Go back to my comfortable life and wish that young girls aren't trafficked like this right in front of my eyes? 

Something inside tells me I can't. I've been exposed and I'll never be the same.

At least ten traffickers sniff us out. They're behind us, in front, to the right and left. We're absolutely surrounded. But were not in prison like the young girls who fill the chairs. We have a choice. Their choice had already been made for them. 

This place has the heavy-weight title of the highest rate of trafficked women in the world. Tens of thousands simply disappear. Our psychologist friend pulls out a local newspaper. "This is how they trap them. Local ads promising well paying jobs abroad. Everyone wants to leave so all young girls are potential victims."

I look to the left and to my utter shock, see two girls reading the same kind of newspaper. Once your eyes are opened, it's everywhere in this place.

GirlsNewspaper"I brought you here so you can see the realities in our country. It doesn't do you any good if I only show you what most people want to see. This is the reality." 

Tomorrow, we will be with five of the girls who have been rescued from this nightmare. I want to be a real presence in their live and fight back the evil that had control over their life. Thank God there are people here who go to the front lines every day. I have to do something, I can't sit on the sidelines and hope this goes away. 

We're in Moldova. Who would like to join us?  We stood up from our table and walked out of that hell hole. The beautiful blonde girl didn't have that choice. 

The Moldovan Crisis

Being in a country where 30,000 women have literally disappeared is hard to describe. There are over 250 brothels in the capital city of Chisinau and one of the greatest targets for sex-trafficking are girls who leave the orphanages. 

Yet, this is a country filled with secrecy. You don't see hundreds of young women walking on the street offering themselves to passersby like in Bangkok. Technically, prostitution is illegal in this country under the new government but for years this was the center of women you were shipped into and out of here to various places in the world. It was a clearing house of sorts where they would receive passports and paperwork.

One of the main ways girls get trapped is attempting to escape from the country for a better life abroad. 90% of the population want to migrate out of Moldova because this is the poorest country in Europe. The opportunities are few and women long for a better life. This is the perfect environment for a trafficker. That life is promised to them by a company who offers, "great salaries" in England, America, Germany, etc. They sign up, get on a plane, and that's when the nightmare begins. 

Please pray for us and pray for the kids we are speaking with. Lots of spiritual darkness here and you can acutely feel it. We are off today to visit a center that rescues and rehabilitates girls who are trafficked. Here's registered information by the international organization on migration for Moldova: www.iom.md:

The majority of women and girls that are trafficked come from rural areas. Over 10 percent are under 18 years old, some as young as 12 years old.40 Traffickers recruit women and girls through different strategies:

1.Direct contact, when women and girls, or their families, are approached by traffickers. The traffickers are often women from the same village who have previously worked as prostitutes or have been trafficked abroad and became traffickers. The family is often paid money in advance and the woman or girl is expected to earn the advance and pay back the family’s debts;

2. Advertisements are placed in the press, offering jobs abroad. The advertisements directed at young women offer jobs as waitresses or house help, but more often bluntly state that the jobs are for those willing to work in the sex industry;

3. Tourist agencies offer full migration services from arranging passports and Schengen visas41 to transportation and work contracts. There are more than 3,000 tourist agencies, of which only some 140 have an official license to operate42;

4. Job agencies. Out of a total of 100 job agencies, only fourteen have official licenses and these mostly hire men for construction work. Only three agencies offer jobs to women as waitresses and nurses.43 Others offer illegal work. Some of these enterprises are run by orga- nised crime groups and operate as covers for trafficking.

April 07, 2010

Pizza Place in Moldova

After 4 planes and 24 hours of travel, we have arrived in the capital of Moldova - Chisinau. The stories we are already hearing about are unbelievable. Here's a quick video of us at Pizza shop. We were told the pizza wasn't good so we went with the chicken. Except for Anne, she's always the exception! Lasagna for her.

Pizza Place in Moldova from Tom Davis on Vimeo.

April 06, 2010

On the Way to Moldova

Zurich, Switzerland from Tom Davis on Vimeo.

On the train to Vienna, Austria. from Tom Davis on Vimeo.

Downtown Vienna! from Tom Davis on Vimeo.

April 05, 2010

Broken Places

I am out the door for Moldova and Russia. I can't help but think the Resurrection when I go to places like this. Moldova - one of the poorest countries in the world and the highest rate of sex-trafficked girls. Broken - beyond belief. But in the greatest brokenness the world ever knew, Christ crucified on a cross, the greatest hope emerged. That's what I pray for these girls. This is exactly the story of my new book, Priceless, that releases June 1st. I'll also be filming live from some of the exact locations I write about in the book.

We'll go from Denver-DC-Zurich-Chisnau. Five days on the ground then out to Russia for the remainder of the trip. I can't wait to see our Russian staff and my dear Russian friends. We'll be telling lots of stories on this trip, shooting video, and taking many photos that will be posted here. You can also keep up with Anne Jackson with her adventures she's titled: Blogging from the dark. 

The Broken Places in our lives need the Resurrection power of Christ flowing through our mortal bodies. The orphans we'll encounter need it. I need it. Come quickly Lord Jesus. Love to you all!

April 02, 2010

Raising Orphans to New Life this Easter

     As we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, I want to thank you for raising orphans to new life around the globe. Your partnership with HopeChest provides life-saving services to over 10,000 children suffering from abandonment, poverty, and violence.

      On Monday I travel to Moldova and then to Russia to spend time with the ladies in our "Young Mothers Program." I'm giving them first-edition Hopechest Mother's Day necklaces as an early present and an encouragement. You'll be able to buy those very same necklaces (pictured here) in just a few weeks.

     For Mother's Day 2010, we are selling beautiful, handmade, one-of-a-kind necklaces to raise funds for girls in our Young Mothers Program. Keep an eye out for the "Love Goes Around" necklace and our Breaking the Chain Mother's Day gift campaign.

    Let me tell you about these girls in our Young Mothers Program. When orphans are released from the orphanage in their early teen years, they enter a critically vulnerable time. In the case of these women, they found themselves pregnant and alone. Still children themselves, they had nowhere to go. That's where HopeChest comes into the picture.
 
 
     Fortunately, these 45 young women enrolled in our Young Mother's Program, an outreach that provides direct assistance, training, community building, and intensive counseling and casework. I'm happy to report that 100% of these moms are raising healthy young children and breaking the cycle of orphans producing more orphans.

     I love how one of the mom's, Nadya, described the program in the simplest terms: "The women working at the Ministry Center helped us to keep our family."
 
     But sadly,  many orphan girls from Russia are targeted by sex traffickers. These women are lured with the promise of a job in a new country. Instead, they end up locked in a room and raped up to 40 times per day. There are 2 million children trapped in child sex slavery.

     I have seven children--including two daughters from Russia--and the thought of them being raped once makes me exceedingly angry. I cannot fathom a world where every 36 minutes those two million kids are raped in exchange for money.
 
 
      Sex trafficking in Russia is real, and orphan girls are at the highest risk of being trafficked. Russia's leading anti-trafficking organization estimates that 500,000 Russian women have been trafficked to over 40 countries in the past decade.
 
     Since the day HopeChest was founded, our supporters have helped stop sex trafficking before it starts. You can join them! Through long-term relationships, we provide kids with a good support system, a stable education and job, and a network of Christian role models.
 
   By restoring hope and rebuilding dreams, these young girls begin to create a life worth living. And HopeChest is there every step of the way to help them.
 
     If you would like more information about the Young Mother's Program in Russia, please download this program overview (PDF). This is a very deep outreach, and we invest about $2,400/year into the lives of each mother and child.
 
     To make a gift, please click on the donate button below and put "Young Mothers" in the notes. A gift of any amount will encourage these moms and allow HopeChest to further expand our outreach to these vulnerable girls and their kids.
 
 
     This weekend we celebrate the new life we have in the resurrection of Jesus. On behalf of the children of the young mothers in this program, thank you for making it possible to bring "new life" to the orphans of Russia this Easter.