This is Stu Epperson from the Truth Talk Podcast, connecting current events, pop culture, and theology, and we're so grateful for you that you've chosen the Truth Podcast Network. It's about to start in just a few seconds.
Enjoy it, and please share it around with all your friends. Thanks for listening, and thanks for choosing the Truth Podcast Network. Welcome to Lantern Rescue, a ministry program dedicated to bringing light into the darkness of human trafficking. It's time to light the way to freedom. This is Lantern Rescue. We tell the stories, we talk about rescues, and we empower you to do something about it.
William Wilberforce once said, Let it not be said I was silent when they needed me. This is Lantern Rescue. I think you're going to be so glad you tuned in today to Lantern Rescue, as we have such a neat episode for you, at least from my perspective, as we have the survivor story this time of an operation that was down in Central America, South America. But I'll let Wren and Camp share that with you. So Wren, tell them what's going on.
Hey, yes. So we recently got to go to a country in South America and visit with a survivor from Operation Catalaya, and it was a really incredible and moving experience. It's really cool to see it all come together, you know, from the investigation to the recovery of the survivors to getting them placed in aftercare to taking them back to their home countries and watching them start their life all over.
So it's been incredible. And I got I was joined on that trip with Camp, who is our director of Caribbean operations. He does a lot for us. And pretty much everywhere south of Florida is what he's in charge of. He handles any countries that are there. I recently just texted him last week and I was like, Hey, you want this other country? He's he does it all for us in that part of the world, anything south of Florida until basically the very tip of Chile. That's where he oversees. And he's just super instrumental in what we do really able to go anywhere and do anything and just he's a great asset to us.
I really can't say enough about it. And he works very closely with someone we've had on the podcast before our task force director for the Dominican, Fernanda, who we talked to before and a couple episodes ago, and then also with us was the victim care specialist that was there right after the operation. She helped to transfer these all these survivors AC from Operation Catalaya into the safe home and individually processed each one of these girls and got them situated where they needed to go where they wanted to go.
That operation had survivors from multiple different countries to figure out where they wanted to go, where they needed to go, what was safest for them and what their plans would be for in the future. So one of those 83 was the survivor we're going to be talking about today who we're going to call Rosa. That's not her name. We're going to call her that because I don't want to keep referring to her as survivor. She's a person and she she deserves that.
So we're going to call her Rosa for her privacy, but also to give her give her some respect there. Yeah. And this was this was quite an operation camp. Like 83 women were rescued there. And and so there was a whole lot of aftercare that that had to go in from your perspective.
What did that look like? Yeah, that was a that was a huge undertaking for us. Luckily, we we had the donors to support it. And we were able to get it done and get people placed and get the help that they need. So yeah, it was a it was a huge undertaking.
Yeah, and Ren this story of roses just particularly heartwarming is God really opened up some huge doors for her, right? Yeah, it's really incredible. So there is going to be I don't want to also a lot of the beans on this episode, but there is going to be a very short, somewhat documentary coming out about this. And I really hope all the listeners tune in to watch that when it comes out. We'll make sure that we make an announcement on the podcast. But we did bring a film crew down there. That was one person that I didn't mention our camera crew and he's awesome. I didn't get permission to say his name on the air today. So I'll avoid saying his name. But he's fantastic. And he knows who he is.
We appreciate him. So a little bit about this story. So, I don't even know where to start with her roses stories.
So heartbreaking, but then it has a happy ending, which, you know, we're all really grateful for. So Rosa was recruited from our home country in South America. She's 28 years old, and she had a son, she had a younger than 10 son, but will not go to this decade.
And she was like, like a lot of the virus in Operation Catawana, she was just living her life. And she was approached by some men that said that she could make a lot of money being a club foot motor and the Dominican Republic. And, you know, they would pay for her travel, they would take care of all her documents, they make sure that was all handled. She's so beautiful and she is a beautiful girl. She's a beautiful and she's going to do great. She's gonna make a ton of money. She just has to work in the Dominican for the summer and she'll, you know, make enough money pretty much for the whole year. And that's perfect.
That's great, right? She just has been a Dominican and none of that is true. They immediately put her in a room, she's not allowed to leave. She's servicing 10, 15, 20 clients a night against her will.
They're barely feeding her, forcing drugs on them. And they had said they were gonna do all the documents, the plane tickets, all that stuff, and they did, but then they also charged just to an extreme amount for that, you know, $5,000 for a passport. They're charging every day to stay in the, you know, really crappy room that she's being forced to stay and they're charging, you know, for the couple sips of orange juice she gets a day, they're charging her 20, 30 bucks. So just inflating, and that's really common in these types of situations where they're using control and they say that you owe us, you have to pay us back before we let you go. You owe us this money, but that money never really goes down. That debt to them, it never really diminishes. It's always increasing because the race is so inflated.
And they shouldn't have to pay that anyways, you know, that's beyond the point. So that's happening. She's in that situation for several months. Unfortunately, her trauma, the trauma from her abuse was so severe that she did contract HPV and had to have a full hysterectomy.
So usually that's traumatic. That happened after her recovery. During her recovery, we realized that and she's had a teenager sense. So she was recovered. She was processed through the safe home after the operation.
And spent some time there. She was classified by our victim care specialist and they connected pretty well. Part of Rosa's story, I'll wait, I'll let that play out in the documentary. People will be able to watch her say it in her own words. But she has a really powerful story about re-signing the Lord during her time in a safe home and after her trafficking situation.
And I really hope everyone tunes in to watch that because it's very powerful. So Rosa wanted to, part of her processing is they decide where they want to go. So Rosa decided she wanted to return home to South America, which is where her son still was. He did not go to the Dominican Republic with her.
Her grandmother was taking care of her son while she was in the Dominican Republic for a day. But she definitely had concerns about the people that had recruited her wanting her to pay back the money and if there's going to be any danger concerns there. And that's something that our team assessed and assessed it for all the survivors because it was a concern. You know, we did these operations. We didn't pay the traffickers for what they allegedly thought they were owed from their victims.
We were not going to pay that obviously. So to the survivors, they still have this debt hanging over their head because they've been so brainwashed by their traffickers. But at the same time, there probably were people in her home country that thought that she still owed the money and might be trying to look for it. So we assessed and made sure that that situation was safe for her to return to. She returned to her home country where her son and her grandmother were and started working in a salon. She had previously worked in salons and she started doing that again. She starts working in this new salon and after working there for a couple months, the salon owner decides that she's ready to sell the salon. She wants to move back to her home country.
The salon owner wasn't a survivor. I don't have a real intimate connection to her, but I do with Rosa. So the salon owner decides she wanted to sell and move back to her home country and it kind of, you know, panicked Rosa a little bit. So Rosa had remembered when we had come in to visit them right after, right after the raids happened, myself and a couple other women went into the home to visit the girls. And one of the things that I told them was if you ever need help and it's something that we can do, let us know and if we can facilitate it, we will. And that goes through a vetting process. We're not just sending money wildly, you know, it is put through a vetting process.
What's going to be in the best interest for them for their longterm recovery, stuff like that. So she had remembered me saying that and she contacted our victim care coordinator and said, Hey, you know, Ren said this when she was in the safe house. Did she mean it? And can you help me? And we're like, then it's a proposal.
Like what's that look like? So the purchase price of the salon was $5,000, which is if anyone's bought a business in the United States, you know, crazy good price. And that included everything in the salon, the marketing, the chairs, the shampoo, like everything. You buy the salon outright.
So we have been donors that stepped forward and really supported that idea. And we were able to purchase the salon and gift it right back to her. And we do not own the salon. She does. That is her, her business. And she's gotten her business cards made and she has her to market it.
And it's been this really cool process to watch. And her goal is to hire other traffic survivors. And while she's working on, you know, while she's doing someone's hair, whether they're a survivor or not, men and women, she wants to talk to them about, you know, the dangers of trafficking and talk to them about the Lord and stuff like that. So it's a really, really cool thing that she has going. And it's really awesome to see someone come out of that trafficking situation and then persevere. And her turnaround is pretty quick. Her recovery, you know, less than a year ago is when she was trafficked.
And now fast forward a year and she's a business owner. So it was, it's been a really cool process to watch. Wow. Wow. That is, and Camp, you, you got to see this as well as part of the beginning and the, and where it is in process.
Yeah. I, uh, I'll have to admit, um, we, uh, we had scheduled to do this earlier in the year and it seemed like every problem that could possibly come up happened. Uh, and we had to push it back. And, um, even this time, uh, and this one, we, you know, flights were delayed, flights were canceled. We had to rebook flight.
Um, and as, you know, as we all know, when something good is about to happen, the devil will step in and try to try to do everything he can to stop it. Um, so he did, but, uh, we pushed through and we made it there and, and it was just a, it was an amazing experience for me. That was the, that was the first time I'd actually seen firsthand that, that end of it, you know, you're there for the investigation and the rescue.
Um, and usually that's kind of where I step out of it, um, to see someone who was rescued and is a survivor and has, you know, made progress in their life afterwards. Um, it was just, it was just amazing to see. Oh, I can imagine. And did you get to meet her son as well?
I did. I did get to meet him. We sat down and talked a little bit, um, uh, amazing guy, uh, spoke very good English. Uh, so yeah, it was amazing, amazing fellow. That had to be, I mean, just an amazing, you know, to be able to restore that family. And then now she's got a way to take care of herself really more than she might've ever dreamed before she went, right?
Yeah, absolutely. Um, I can tell you something about, about Rosa, you know, we all had storms in our life and, uh, you know, you always hear the, the, the bigger the storm, the, the, the greater mission that God has for you. And, uh, uh, Rose has been through a, through a huge storm and, um, you know, and got knocked down and you got two choices, you know, you can either give up or get up and, and she chose to get up and she's doing great things with her life. Um, moving forward, providing for her son, um, once we, you know, wants to, to look out for other survivors as well, uh, and to prevent others from going into the same trap she did. That is so amazing. Well, we got to go to a break, but I'm sure you want to stay tuned.
Like, you know, it's amazing. We can hear that, you know, that, that somebody's had a chance to be rescued and then has really recovered, you know, the full recovery process that really you can see is God is a big part of that equation. And as always from Landon Rescue, that's the light that's provided and we'll be right back with a whole lot more on today's sort of rescue edition of Landon Rescue. Landon Rescue is a USA based organization that conducts international rescue operations for people suffering from human trafficking. Landon specializes in sending former US special operation law enforcement and intelligence personnel to partner with host nations and assist them in creating specialized units to combat ongoing security problems such as genocide, terrorism and human trafficking.
As a nonprofit charity, they offer services free of charge to their host nations. Human trafficking has grown into the second largest criminal activity in the world, reaching an estimated $150 billion in annual activity. Landon Rescue has developed rapidly to combat trafficking. Landon operates through a trained international network in order to rescue women and children from sex and labor slavery and facilitates holistic aftercare services. They're gearing up for operations right now and you can go to LandonRescue.org to see how you can support them financially. Welcome back to Landon Rescue and today's amazing story of Rosa, a survivor from human trafficking and Wren, there's more to this story, right?
Yeah, there is. So when we get, we talked about getting there and what we got to do, but when we got to this salon, you know, we traveled all the way from America for us and from the Dominican Republic for other people. It was our patient care specialist first time ever on a plane. So we all meet up in this South American country. We all kind of had an interesting way of getting there.
Some of us got a little delayed, but we all get there and we get to go. You know, the whole culmination of this is getting to go see this salon. And I'd seen pictures because she sent in a proposal for us when she initially wanted to purchase the salon.
So she sent in a proposal and I'd seen pictures of it. And as we pull up and you just look, we look to our left and we see it's right there, like this salon that this survivor of human trafficking had purchased is right there. And she's standing out front with the like, she's smiling. She's already starting to cry a little bit.
We're all kind of starting to cry a little bit. And the streets in this country, like you really need to like watch yourself. You're going to get hit by a car. So we all get out and no one's really even paying attention to the street. You know, the cars probably honked us.
None of us even realized. And we're all just kind of running across the street to each other. The victim care specialists and Rosa, they hugged for the first time since Rosa left the Dominican Republic and went back to this country. So they're seeing each other for the first time. They're crying. I'm crying. I think everyone is crying at this point.
We're all bawling. You know, we're all hugging in the middle of the street and we get to go into this, the salon that she had purchased and she's got balloons everywhere and cake and champagne. And we all get to celebrate this grand opening with her. And it was just the most like, you know, there's a lot to be said about that first couple of minutes after an extraction, after recovery where we're all kind of processing.
And that's, that's a powerful moment. But this is the first time we've gotten approach to business for someone. This is the first time we've gotten to do this.
We always are involved in Africa and make sure that people, survivors have, you know, a way to support themselves afterwards. But this is the first business business that someone had purchased. And it was just such an incredible experience, like to walk in the door of this salon that she, she owns and she's taking calls and she's taking reservations. And she did my hair, she washed my hair and dried it and straightened it. And, you know, people are coming in and they're getting their nails done.
And it's this whole working salon from this survivor that less than a year ago was trafficked in another country. And it was just so, it was so incredible and so moving. Like it's just stuck permanently in my mind. And again, stay tuned for the documentary because you will actually see that moment on camera. Yeah, that's going to be amazing.
We don't want to miss that. And Camp, you were there as well. What was that like from your perspective? Yeah, after all the delayed flights and travel issues, you know, it, uh, being the victim care specialist and Rosa embracing the street, like all of that just fell away. Like, it was all worth it. Every every headache, every hiccup bump that we went through getting there.
It was all worth it just for that one, you know, that one scene of them embracing each other. And then, you know, her excitement of showing us her salon and it was just amazing. Like, as Ren said, people were, we were there, people were coming in setting appointments and getting their nails done.
I mean, it was a, it was up and running. So it was, it was awesome to see that she has, you know, moved on from that experience in her life and is going to do great things. And, uh, I personally did not know until we got there that Lantern had bought the business for her, um, that had raised the money and bought the business.
I knew we had helped, but I was not aware that, you know, we raised the funds and bought it for her. Which is, you know, it just makes the experience for me working for Lantern that much more. It's amazing to work for an organization that cares that much for what we do and who we do it for. And it's incredible to see what Rose is going to do in the future. Doing these kind of operations and taking people out of bad places and giving them their life back. It's exciting.
You know, Jesus conquered hell on a weekend. So it's exciting to see what these people are going to do with their lifetime. It's really, you know, Jesus came to give us life and life abundant.
And in this case, you know, Lantern was the facilitator for God to give Rose an abundant life, right? Yeah, absolutely. Just a beautiful, you know, again, story that there's so much more to rescue than just, you know, getting them out of the situation. Because, you know, I know everyone's concern is, you know, it's easy enough to get, you know, the Israelites out of Egypt, but getting Egypt out of the Israelites isn't so easy, right?
Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, in that same vein, I'd kind of like to talk about why this particular country was so right and so fertile for people to be trafficked out of. So one of the things that we did while we were down there is we met with another aftercare organization. And aftercare is a good word for them, because they do work in a lot of aftercare and they do help provide for survivors and their children and give them skills. But one of the things they do is prevention. They go out and they pass out these care kits, and they had a variety of care kits, ones for women that are pregnant, for newborn babies, for toddlers, for kids that are in school.
They have this really great variety of care kits, and they do a lot of talking to people in the streets and in border areas about how easy it is to be trafficked and what to look out for. And it's so important in that country because when we're driving down the road, the whole time we're in this country, I'm looking around as we're driving in the cities, and every other store is either a lingerie store, some type of makeup store, plastic surgery, diet supplements, or workouts. Everything is really revolved around, even in the poorest neighborhoods, you'll see the stuff.
It's all revolved around the superficial look of someone. And in a culture where they're clearly promoting, and just to take that a step further, the people you see walking around are walking around in a bra and shorts and very lightly dressed, I'll say. And when you're in a society that is basically telling you that your worth is your body and that you are a commodity, it's not a far stretch to be trafficked.
The society has been already raising them. They're indoctrinated. Whether it's intentional or not, you're looking around and seeing everyone is hyper-sexualized. The whole society is just hyper-hypersexual. And it appears, I don't want to pass judgment, but it appears somewhat superficial in vain. So when you're raised in a society that clearly values those things, they value appearance, and they're not, these were not bookstores on every corner, they were sex shops. So it's not a far stretch when that's the society you're born into, that when someone approaches you and tells you, oh my gosh, you're so beautiful, which is clearly what that society values, you would do such a great job at this.
They're feeding into that insecurity that's clearly shown through society, as well as those people are already used to believing that their body is a commodity and that their worth is their appearance, their look. So it's not, it's an easy slope to fall down when the society is already telling you that you're a commodity, so why wouldn't they go and advertise a bar in another country? That seems like a natural progression, not realizing and not being skeptical to the fact that it might be a trafficking situation. Wow, and what a crisis it creates, right? And so the Dominican was sort of like a center for all sorts of countries that were feeding that situation, right, Cam? That's true, yeah.
It was, that network that was dealing with that was traced all the way back through South and Central America. So Camp, this whole area of aftercare is something Landon Rescue really, really put some emphasis on, and can you give us a little more detail on how all that works? Yes, so we will work with our partners to find the best aftercare facility for our survivors.
You know, the biggest thing that we look for is obviously Christian values. We want aftercare to show to the survivors that they are valued and that they are loved by God, and that God is with you in this pain. You know, and they need to be taught certain things, you know, that the situation that they got caught up in wasn't their fault. And a big portion of that a lot of people kind of skip over in these incidents is, you know, forgiveness and moving on past that, providing that support and that healing. A lot of these survivors, you know, you have to restart their whole lives, and, you know, that means teaching them how to rebuild trust and reintegration into society. You know, some of them need physical and emotional healing and support.
Some of them will need legal assistance, but a lot of it is, too, to make sure that they are not reintroduced to trafficking again to teach that prevention measure. So those are the things that we look for in aftercare and that we push for for our survivors in aftercare. Yeah, and Ren, those keywords that you used that I thought were, it's not their fault. And so that leads to a whole thing of, can I forgive myself for getting myself into this situation? When obviously the accuser is wanting to remind you of that constantly, that, you know, you know that this is not who you really are, right?
Oh, absolutely. You know, a lot of the ways the traffickers will manipulate people is by convincing them that, you know, you stepped into this role. This is voluntary.
You wanted this. And it will not only diminish the survivors' belief in themselves and their own self-confidence, but it also helps them, it helps the traffickers to convince the survivors that this isn't a crime. Why would you go to the police for something that's not a crime, right? No one goes to the police and is like, Walmart's making me work overtime. So they convince them that this is a normal job and that they wanted this. So it's not a crime.
Why would you go to the police? There's a lot of indoctrination there and a lot of mental hurdles that they kind of have to overcome during their recovery process to understand that this wasn't their fault. But then they have this level of distrust of themselves because they made that bad decision before.
Are they going to make it again now that they're in recovery? And that's where a really good victim care specialist comes in and is able to help guide them through that and help them develop and ask, that's why the aftercare plans are so important. You know, what are you going to do? Where are you going to go? There's some people that look like, you know what, I really just want to go work in the kitchen at my parents' restaurant.
Okay, great. Some people, I want to go to school and become a doctor. Everyone's plan looks different, but something that's really important is to have them come up with that plan.
And even if it changes, that's okay. But keeping people in the loop and bouncing ideas off of people. Because when you make, especially after trauma like that, when you make decisions in isolation and you're not communicating with people that actually care about you, traffickers will try to convince them they care. But they clearly do not. When you're not communicating with people that truly care about you, you might make bad decisions just because you don't know. You don't have that person to bounce it off of. So that's why the aftercare specialists are so important and those connections between them and the survivors are just, they're invaluable.
You know, you can't put a price tag on that. It's just, it's a huge resource for them to help prevent that re-victimization and help them get confident in making their own decisions again. Right. And so all of us listening to this can see what the need is for prayer, because this is such a spiritual battle that these ladies are in even after they've been rescued. And so they need our prayers. And thank you so much, Wren and Camp. What an amazing story we got to share today.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-18 14:21:48 / 2023-03-18 14:33:14 / 11