Thru security at the Albuquerque Sunport.
Those in Need
When organizations rescue children from trafficking, they must deal with the emotional, psychology, physical, and spiritual damage that has been done. Their workers provide school supplies and teach Bible lessons to help counter the ill effects of being trafficked, yet the success rates are unimpressive.
Why not prevent them from having those traumatic experiences in the first place!
Educate Bohol’s mission statement reads: Using education to bring Jesus to children in the Philippines. And that is exactly what they are doing, addressing the lack of education by ensuring children have the tools they need for school, and the issue of marginalization by bringing Jesus. All of this is being accomplished within the society in which these children live, the Philippines.
It is keeping them in their homes, putting them in the classroom, and encouraging them in church that will have the longest and most beneficial results. In return, the improvements in the lives of these children impact the issue of poverty in their community.
These three conditions that determine a child’s future are interwoven, and it’s Educate: Bohol’s desire to be a catalyst of change in the communities where they work.
They Need Your Help
The volunteers who work tirelessly to provide school supplies and to teach the Gospel message can’t do it alone. All of those activities have financial costs that need to be addressed. Without caring supporters, these workers can do nothing to combat the wealthy traffickers. If Educate: Bohol had even one percent of the funds generated through trafficking, they could make a substantial and long lasting impact on the communities in the province of Bohol.
What You Can Do
Stay informed. Visit Educate: Bohol’s website to learn what they are doing. www.EducateBohol.org/blog
Pray: The volunteers face numerous challenges and dangers as they travel to remote villages and islands.
Financial support: Providing a student with a uniform, shoes, and a backpack filled with school supplies costs $25. A week-long Vacation Bible School program for 100 children averages $250 and includes materials, craft supplies, snacks, and travel and meals for the workers. The average tuition for a Bible college student is $70 per month. These Bible students volunteer for many of Educate: Bohol’s outreach efforts.
Tax Deductible donations can be made online at www.EducateBohol.org/give. Checks can be made out to Educate Bohol and should be mailed to Educate Bohol, 805 Cerro de Ortega, Rio Rancho, NM 87124.
is the Answer
There are organizations that take great risks to break a person free from the traffickers. Those young boys and girls are worth a lot of money, and their handlers will do anything to safeguard their property. There is a man in Cebu City who, in 2016, was shot at, stabbed, and nearly run down by a car due to his efforts to rescue children from sex traffickers. Death threats are a daily occurrence. It is a very dangerous ministry.
Prevention Versus Rescue
Educate Bohol has a relationship with that rescue ministry in Cebu City, and frequently shares information about best practices for combating the impact of trafficking. Interestingly enough, what they do upon rescuing a child from trafficking is the same thing Educate Bohol does to prevent children from ever being victimized in the first place.
As noted above, there are three primary conditions that assist traffickers in the coercion and manipulation of children. One of those is inadequate education. Studies throughout developing countries show the same results: a child who is actively pursuing an education has a substantially lower risk of falling victim to the tempting promises of the traffickers.
In the Philippines, nearly sixty percent of children never finish elementary school. The principle reason is poverty. Their families simply can not afford the school supplies necessary for admission to the classroom. It is illegal to deny children access to school because they don’t have a pencil and paper. Yet, it happens every day.
Educate: Bohol provides much needed school supplies to children who have been identified by community leaders. They fill backpacks with all of the necessary materials and often provide uniforms and shoes. In 2016, Educate: Bohol provided school supplies to over 1,400 needy students.
This has a trickle-up effect on the families, the schools, the teachers, and the communities. When a child goes to school, everyone wins . . . except for the traffickers!
Many children live in a world of rejection by society. People who have an influence on society often look down in disdain on those of meager means. This happens in the marketplace, on the streets, and even in the classroom. Children who are marginalized by society have little hope for their future.
Educate: Bohol works with churches in target communities to share the love of Jesus with hopeless children. Sharing the Gospel message is a key element in combating trafficking. Children who have a hope that is not based on material needs stand strong against the false promises and coercive messages of the traffickers.
Educate: Bohol volunteers teach Bible lessons, songs, and activities that provide children with a solid understanding of the scriptures. Through vacation Bible school programs and other outreach efforts, they ensure that children and their families develop a firm spiritual foundation.
Once again, everyone wins except the traffickers. Teachers and administrators see a decrease in negative classroom behaviors, grades go up, and crime and substance abuse issues go down. It’s a blessing to everyone!
While little can be done to directly reduce poverty, having classrooms full of hard working students is a holistic approach to changing social conditions.
Part 4: Reaching Out to Those in Need
There are three social conditions which makes someone susceptible to human trafficking. Before going into a discussion about the conditions which help traffickers find their victims, let’s recognize one important fact: the trafficking of people is a supply-and-demand phenomenon. If the world could eliminate the market for human lives, trafficking would disappear from the face of the Earth. Unfortunately, the demand for human slaves has been an evil that has plagued mankind throughout history. We are unlikely to halt trafficking any time soon – perhaps not until Christ returns to take His children home.
The first social condition allows human trafficking to proliferate is poverty. There are actually two types of poverty: individual and systemic. Individual poverty is a problem found throughout the world, but the root causes are often self-inflicted. Substance abuse, laziness, and irresponsible behavior are among its many causes. Systemic poverty, however, is a condition that people are born into and involves major populations within a community, region, or country.
Essentially, poverty is the absence of or inability to secure the things necessary for daily life. Food, shelter, security, and health are the primary items essential for living day to day. Removing any one of those will result in poverty. It becomes systemic when the absence of one or more of these essentials is prevalent throughout a population.
Communities often have areas where the residents live at a lower standard than do the majority of the town’s population. Frequently these people live along the edge of town, away from the center of activity. It is said that they live ‘on the fringe’ of society. These people are looked down upon by much of society. They lose value and worth as human beings. They become marginalized.
One does not necessarily need to live on the fringe to be marginalized. Societies that have caste systems, such as India and Nepal, have people of the lower castes living throughout the towns and cities in close proximity to those of the higher castes. They are the workers, the people who do tasks which are far beneath those from the higher levels of society.
To be marginalized means to be devalued. Those of lower positions are of little worth, something acknowledged by everyone in the community, including the individual. This type of worthlessness is not to be confused with problems of self-esteem. These people truly have little to no value.
The third condition which contributes to a person’s susceptibility is inadequate education. In most developed and developing countries, education is measured by which diploma a person has. That piece of paper is the key to better jobs and higher status. It reflects what degree of influence a person has in society.
For example, one who has earned a PhD has significant influence on society. The high school dropout has little influence and is unable to climb the social ladder.
In many societies, there are barriers to education. Poverty itself often limits a young person’s likelihood of obtaining any kind of education. Without that certificate or diploma, meaningful employment is simply out of reach. The under-educated are left to find whatever work is available, regardless of dangers, lack of morality, or even legality. Hunger will drive a person to unimaginable actions.
Enter the Devil
It becomes understandable then that a young boy or girl might accept an attractive offer from a ‘recruiter’. The desire for a place to live, the promise of a meal each day, and the prospect of getting ahead in the world can have a tremendous impact in a desperate soul. What is often misunderstood by people outside of the culture is that the decision to become ‘trafficked’ is often voluntary. The individual understands what they are getting involved in, although they may not comprehend all of the conditions of employment.
Human traffickers are cool and calculating. They are skilled at manipulation and coercion. They are cunning salesmen who know how to close a deal. The victims quickly discover that the promises made are not at all like the reality of their situation. They also realize that escaping from their new employer is nearly impossible. For those who try to escape, getting caught has unimaginable consequences. Once in the Devil’s lair, breaking free is an unattainable myth.
Part 3: Prevention is the Answer
It looks like paradise. In many ways, it is. The Philippine Islands draw thousands of foreign visitors from around the globe. White sandy beaches, perfect weather, warm ocean water, and lush landscapes give the Philippines great appeal to tourists seeking an escape from their homelands. The people are friendly and hospitable. In fact, the many hotels, resorts, restaurants, and businesses pride themselves with how well they treat their foreign customers.
All of those tourists have a powerful impact on the local economy. What many foreigners pay for a single meal represents a full day’s wages for most Filipinos. A hard-working man or woman can easily improve their own standard of living by having work in service industries that cater to the foreign tourists.
But many of those visitors seek other services that bring substantial financial wealth to those who can fulfill their desires. The sex trade in the Philippines is a billion dollar a year industry. Because of the desperate situations many Filipinos find themselves in, they become easy targets for the human traffickers.
Unfortunately, many of the requests by those who come in search of sexual pleasures involve underage boys and girls. UNICEF estimates there are over 100,000 children in the Philippines actively involved in the sex trade at any given time. Because of serious corruption within the government and police forces, little is done to intervene. In some regions of the Philippines, the trafficking of children and young adults is done openly at bars and resorts frequented by foreign visitors.
Trafficking isn’t limited to the sex trade. Farms, mining operations, manufacturing, and domestic services have a high demand for unskilled labor as well. Children are an inexpensive and disposable workforce, with a sizeable pool of candidates. The number of children involved in the labor force are estimated at over one million. While technically illegal, officials again turn a blind eye to the abuse and dangerous environments in which many of these children work.
Part 2: Traffickers Rely on Three Conditions
(This is a reprint of Educate: Bohol’s 2016 primer on Child Trafficking in the Philippines.)
We have access to a couple of motorcycles in Bohol. They are fine for running to the market to buy some food or other simple needs. However, when it comes time to transport hundreds upon hundreds of backpacks filled with school supplies, they are simply unusable. We have been able to secure the services of vehicles from pastors and friends, but the mission has even outgrown that option. With the goals for 2017 adding hundreds of additional backpacks, uniforms, and shoes, it’s simply time to do something more practical.
To that end, Educate: Bohol has set up a GoFundMe site at which we will take donations towards the purchase of a suitable vehicle. A simple “multicab” like the one in the photo is our first real option. There are always bigger and better choices, but the multicab is the most reasonable at this time.
Without doubt, we have the need. It’s growth that I knew could come at some point, and here it is.
And we have already received our first donation!
Please support us in this effort. Here is the link to our GoFundMe webpage.
I’ve had a difficult time watching the news lately. The anger and name calling and general poor behavior of people who are supposed to be leaders of the world are very disheartening. It’s to the point of being distracting. I know I need to change this, and I found my motivation for change in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 4, in the Parable of the Sower:
“18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.”
No matter what else is happening in today’s world, our focus should always be on the Lord’s work!
Today I want you to meet Vergie. She’s a 15 year old from a place called Guindacpan. She wants to go to school, but her parents can’t afford to send her. Instead, the girl’s mother wants her to go to the ‘big city’ to find work. That decision is fraught with dangers.
I hope you will join me in prayer for Vergie and her family. I also hope you will consider helping Vergie by supporting her financially. Her school situation is different from most of the kids we work with in Bohol, so will require more funding.
Contact me here or at Scott@EducateBohol.org. Or give directly through our website at www.EducateBohol.org/give
Thank you, and may God bless!
Most girls don’t carry a machete to school. Merlyn does.Well, she did when she was in high school.
I first met Merlyn when she was in her final year of high school. Like many families, Merlyn’s parents struggled to provide her with the things she needed for school. What impressed me most about this young lady was her absolute commitment and dedication to completing high school.
I visited her home one day. We had to walk, as there weren’t any roads to travel on. The path was barely visible among the forest undergrowth. It’s one of the reasons she carried a machete. Of course there was also the concern of being attacked by wild boars which were common throughout that region.
The trip took over an hour. We climbed steep hills, crossed rushing water, and pushed through jungle greenery. She did this every day. It was difficult enough in decent weather, but she also made that trek in the rain and wind of threatening tropical storms.
Merlyn and the others traveling with us joked that the trip didn’t normally take that long – I was slowing them down. I was a little winded by the time we reached her home. I eagerly accepted the chair that was offered to me.
I learned from her parents that Merlyn had never missed a day of school. For many students, the long hike to school was just too arduous to make every day. Since they really didn’t have the materials they needed for school, it was easy just to stop going.
I was also impressed by Merlyn’s future goals. She had been teaching the children at Sunday school for several years and was adamant about going to college to earn a degree in education. Her plan was to work in a church ministry, helping children and teaching them Christian values and Bible stories.
She had no idea how she could ever afford to do that. Her family could barely provide paper and pencils, let alone college tuition. But she had faith that God would provide the means.
Before I left, I made sure she had everything she needed to graduate from high school.That was easy. But I wondered if there was any way that Educate Bohol could help her with her future college expenses. While tuition there is only a fraction of the cost of a US college, it was still more than I had in my budget.
We prayed about it. I mentioned it people every time I had the opportunity to share about my work in Bohol. I committed to be as tenacious about her education as she was.
Merlyn will graduate from college this spring. She is so very grateful for all of the supporters of Educate Bohol who helped her along the way. In fact, she has agreed to serve with Educate Bohol after graduation. She has volunteered during every school break, helping with school supply distribution and other projects. She even helped with the construction of Basecamp, mixing cement by hand for the foundation of the building.
I am impressed by her attitude and unending dedication to any project she takes on. Our investment in her future will reap a significant harvest.
So I just want to offer everyone who supports Educate Bohol a big thank you. Your prayers and financial support have made a real impact on Merlyn’s life. It’s also impacted the mission of Educate Bohol. Thank you!
Some of the boys and girls of Guindacpan are teaching the Gospel to their younger siblings and neighbors. They’ve been studying in their free time, memorizing scripture verses and stories from both the New and Old Testaments. Their repertoire of hymns and praise songs is impressive. Educate Bohol has helped nearly 100 childen on Guindacpan Island with school supplies and backpacks. What a blessing to work with this amazing group of kids. I hope you can join me for the 2017-18 school year. Salamat! www.EducateBohol.org/give
You know you’re touching a few lives when you arrive on an isolated island and the kids are already waiting for you. The sign reads “Welcome kuya Scott”, with ‘kuya’ meaning ‘older brother’. Several of the students in the photo are going off to high school next year. (Yes, I know they don’t look old enough, The average student enters high school at 12 or 13.)
What makes this situation different than anything in the US is that these kids will attend high school on the mainland. They’ll leave Guindacpan early on Monday morning to attend school, and then they will live in a boarding house, preparing their own meals, doing laundry, completing homework assignments, and cleaning their living space. Adult supervision is minimal. They will return home on Friday night.
To me, that’s just scary. As if these kids don’t have enough challenges, now they have to be self reliant, taking care of any problems that arise.
There is an alternative. The neighboring island of Calituban has a high school which the students from Guindacpan are allowed to attend. But there are a few problems. The high school is already overcrowded and lacks enough textbooks for the students to use. The students need to travel in an open boat each morning and evening. If the weather is bad, they simply don’t go. If they are already at school and a storm comes up . . . well, you can see the problem. Neither Calituban nor Guindacpan have the resources for school projects and other necessities. So in some ways, the students who live in the boarding house have a greater chance of success.
Many who attend school on Calituban have a much greater chance of dropping out. The only work on Guindacpan is fishing or domestic jobs. They are left with the choice of trying to find work on the main island of Bohol or going to Cebu City across the channel. Without any real skills or education, the risks for these young people ae very high. Being hungry and looking for a safe place to stay for the night can easily lead to meeting up with ‘business men’. Of course, the business is human trafficking, whether for the sex trade or child labor. Neither works out well.
Just last night i was asked if Educate Bohol could help support some of these kids. I agreed only to pray about it. There are 17 children who would need about $60 each per month. My heart says “yes” but my budget says “no”. I hope you will join me in prayer for this situation.
And if you feel a tug on your sleeve, it might be our Lord asking you to take action to help. Here’s a link where you can help some students. Thank you!