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Uniting for A Purpose: Africa

Lantern Rescue / Lantern Rescue
The Truth Network Radio
July 1, 2023 12:00 pm

Uniting for A Purpose: Africa

Lantern Rescue / Lantern Rescue

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July 1, 2023 12:00 pm

This week two Lantern Rescue Operators share about the recent conference in Africa. Learn what we are up against in Africa and how eight countries and multiple partners are coming together to combat Human trafficking, Child Sacrifice, and Child Sexual Abuse Material. 

A warning: this program contains sensitive content. Listener discretion is advised.

Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH) at 1-888-373-7888.

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This is Rodney from the Masculine Journey Podcast, where we explored manhood within Jesus Christ. Your chosen Truth Network Podcast is starting in just a few seconds. Sit back, enjoy it, share it, but most of all, thank you for listening and choosing the Truth Podcast Network.

This is the Truth Network. 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. Hi, guys.

Welcome to Lantern Rescue. Those of you that are joining us for our podcast today, I'm very excited. We have two wonderful operators of ours on board today with us, and they're going to be telling us a little bit about a conference that just recently actually happened in Africa.

Before we get into that, I know on Mark's prior podcast, he mentioned this, so if you have not listened to the one last week, take time to do that. I'll give you a quick update and rundown on why we're chatting about this today, and we're excited to kind of get into those details. So without further delay, I am going to hand it over to TC and Sean. TC and Sean, so glad you guys are back, and I know you guys had an awesome time at the conference in Africa. Thanks for having us on.

Absolutely. So I would like to, yeah, I'm so excited you guys are here and we were able to make this happen. I know sometimes it's a little crazy logistically getting everybody together for a podcast, but I know our listeners are excited to just hear the movement that's happening across the world, you know, but I would really love to really get started with for those of the listeners that are new to this. I think it's important for them to really kind of understand what brought us into Africa, some of the work that we are doing in Africa, and then we'll talk a little bit about why this conference was such a staple to having growth in what we're doing in our operations there. So, TC, if you want to start us out, I know you've been working in this world for a while with us, and I know the voice is familiar to our listeners, but if you'll share a little bit about some of the work that we're currently doing in Africa that led to the need for this conference.

Alright, so we have been, Lantern has been in West Africa for several years. We've had an operation up there, an NGO up there that has worked the border between Benin and Nigeria for years and has done a great job. And so based on that success and some of the intelligence that comes from that operation, Sean and I have been trying for several months now, we've had the intentions of expanding the reach of the task force overseas there in Africa. And so that would be the start of it, and I know Sean has some other initiatives that he's had more south in Africa, if you want to address some of those, Sean.

Yeah, thanks, TC. Yeah, exactly as TC said, we've had a bit of a footprint up in West Africa. We're looking to expand that across the continent. You know, 7% of all victims found in North Africa originated from West Africa, and 31% of victims identified in Southern Africa also come from West Africa. So what we see is this huge migration of people and victims being taken advantage of right across the continent. So this was our sort of first step in expanding that footprint and trying to get these countries to work a bit closer together with each other and their neighbours and ourselves as the County Human Trafficking Joint Task Force. Just bring people together to try and have a bigger impact. It's such a huge problem across the globe, especially in Africa, where so many people live in poverty and big issues with conflict and just rise for people to take advantage of other people.

It is, absolutely. And you know, I think sometimes we feel so distant from the things like that that are going on around the world, because we don't see them day to day in our news sources and in what's going on, you know, on in front of us. So we can become very, not just unaware, but even numb to really the realities of trafficking around the world.

And so to be able to bring an entire country together is incredible, you know, and I think these are great footprints in doing that. What are some of the forms of trafficking you most commonly see in West Africa and really throughout Africa, since we're taking initiative to have a footprint throughout Africa? What are some of the main focuses trafficking wise that you see?

Well, up in West Africa, we've seen just about every kind. There's the familiar trafficking, you know, sometimes between villages, which is, you know, ages old. But there's also a very organized approach where there are cross border organizations who have brokers and traffickers and scouts that are trafficking kids east to west and west to east, some for labor trafficking and some for some for the sex trafficking. And we've seen in other countries, and I know Sean can speak to this, but we've seen child sacrifice and organ harvesting as well. Now, that's a hard one for our listeners to wrap their head around, I have no doubt.

And I know we've spoken to it briefly, but it's been a long time. You know, I know that the child sacrifice component is something we feel like, especially as believers, some of us, you know, the idea of that seems so Old Testament, like there can't that can't possibly still happen. But the reality of it is, is it does. And it's it's it's not uncommon. Sean, can you share a little bit about what you know about that world in the areas that you've worked in?

Where people have gone to a witch doctor and sacrificed a child to ensure that the crops for that year are good, you know, and they genuinely believe that we see politicians who want to be elected, you know, they they go to the witch doctor and organize a child sacrifice to ensure that they're elected, reelected. So this is this is the reality. And it's horrendous and, you know, and having to see the pictures and be a part of some of the investigations is you really think that no two humans could do that, but they do. Yeah, thank you for sharing that piece. Because, you know, I think sometimes it's really easy, we can get on the on the podcast, and we can share the pieces of what's going on. But but to hear the heart and recognition that, you know, you guys who are boots on the ground dealing with it, it's still it's still impacts you, right?

You haven't despite what you see, you don't you don't just become numb to it. You know, when you see the depths of evil that can go on that that is what fuels you to keep fighting, but it's not always an easy fight for you guys. So I think that's a vulnerable piece we're sharing. Yeah, it's, it's just brutal. I was in Uganda, just a couple weeks ago, and talking to a couple local pastors with direct knowledge of a child that was taken from an orphanage, and I won't go into the detail because it's too much, but it's, it's family on family. And it's, it's close to unbelievable, except for that it is actually happening. And it's, you know, that sometimes the numbers that we hear vary.

But I'd say, you know, a good friend is a prosecutor, and Uganda prosecutes, at a minimum, 18 to 20 cases a year, and he figures, he guesstimates that that's at most a third of what's actually happening. So man, it's real, and it's, and it's real bad. Yeah, it's crazy. Well, I'm thankful that you guys are not just addressing it in the areas that you're at, but you are calling people to step up throughout the countries and play a part in the change that has to happen, you know, and has to occur. And it sounds like it was received really well. So I know, I know it probably took a little bit to prepare for this, this type of conference, and I'm sure there were definitely challenges along the way TC.

Yeah, there were a few, I would say that typically not a stressed guy, but I was looking longingly at Tums for a while. We had a lot of great help in Benin. I had one guy there, we'll just call him David, he's an official in that country, and the amount of work that he did with the expertise that he executed it. Sean can, you know, talk about some of the countries, but just even within, within Benin, they were so, I don't know, so receptive, so helpful.

I mean, I've been to a few, I've been to a few. I was very, very impressed. And we'll talk about some aftermath, but you know, Sean can cover some of the countries that came, but it was, it was, it was a smashing success, I guess, by, by all accounts.

That was awesome. Yeah, Sean, tell us a little bit about some of the countries that came in and, and kind of what you felt like their reception to this was, how they felt about coming into this kind of conference. I'm sure there was excitement and then some hesitation, maybe even. Yeah, as TC said, you know, the guys on the ground in Benin did an amazing job in bringing it all together. You know, working across two countries can be difficult, let alone, you know, almost eight, eight different countries.

And the difference between there are some Francophone, so French speaking countries there, or some Anglophone, English speaking, so there was that dynamic as well, which can separate countries in Africa, sometimes, you know, that delineation between the French and English sort of heritage, but, you know, we had a good mix, you know, we had got a prosecutor from Nigeria, we had a representative from NAPIP in Nigeria, we had a senior police officer from Togo, we had some representatives from Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, a Senate representative, a couple of guys couldn't make it, which was unfortunate, but we've had conversations with them since as well. So yeah, it was a really, I think, a really important step in in collaboration and working with each other and ourselves to to sort of grow this capacity in the area. Absolutely. It sounds like there's a lot of unification that's happening around this situation in this these circumstances. That's huge, you know, I mean, anytime you can you can accomplish that that's an accomplishment anywhere, you know, and then to consider language barriers and all the logistics behind that as well. I'm sure it's a lot for you guys to have taken on but I have no doubt they probably felt very welcomed and encouraged by this conference. It was and I know, we'll talk about some of the other after effects, but the need itself, actually, after hearing what some of the other countries are doing, they themselves have stepped up their own what they want to do internally to facilitate this further. So it definitely is that idea of encouragement and idea sharing and every every country, you know, one of the things that Sean and I were, you know, the conference itself is just a piece in the overall strategy, right for West Africa, and then ultimately for all of the continent.

And so it's just a piece. And we we were adamant and told them several times, you know, if we just have a good conference, you know, have that come by all moment, then that would be a failure. But since then, like I said, the need is, you know, working on what's next and growing that thing. They want to they want to help the task force expand its footprint in in the country itself. And we were able to talk to Interpol and many other things that we're going to highlight on with the task force itself also wanted to kind of show these countries what we can do to help them. You know, every time we go somewhere, we find people who are serious about the work, who really want to do good work, but would like a little help. And so that was another thing that we wanted to and did accomplish, you know, at this conference. Yeah, that's incredible. I think people just want to know they're not alone in this fight, you know, and I think you guys did a great job in letting that register for these other these other people as well.

Well, that does send us into our breaks. So when we come back, I want to hear all about the excitement of the conference and some of the takeaways and really what's the practical application to leaving this conference with the information that you guys now have. For our listeners, while you are waiting on us to return, please take time to visit the website. And I would be doing you an injustice, not to mention that we right now have a double your impact campaign. A generous donor has come alongside of us and is matching up to $100,000 in donations. So if you've ever been considering being a part of this fight and giving to Lantern Rescue, we just pray that you step up in this moment to double your impact. Lantern Rescue is a USA based organization that conducts international rescue operations for people suffering from human trafficking. Lantern 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. Lantern Rescue has developed rapidly to combat trafficking. Lantern 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 to see how you can support them financially.

All right, welcome back. If you are just joining us, we have TC and Sean on the line with us and they recently finished up a conference put on in Africa by the lantern to kind of to bring really a bunch of different countries together on the common idea that you know there are some changes that have to happen. Partnerships that need to be established, but in order for those things to happen, there has to be unity. So we are going to deep dive into some of the impactful moments in that conference and really where are we headed from there? You know, what difference and changes is going to make across the board for human trafficking? So Sean and TC, tell us some of those moments that really just kind of stood out to you throughout the conference time.

Yeah, conferences are always great to meet new people and as TC said before, you know, find those other champions out there who really are swimming uphill, you know, upstream in the fight and banding together with other champions. But some of the sort of stand out moments for me came probably two days after the conference when one of the guys from Benir reached out and sent me a video of a tracker and some victims who had been stopped at the border. And the video, I didn't really understand what it was at first when I saw it, but as the video played out, basically it was a group of children who had been basically placed in hessian bags and the police officers were undoing the hessian bags and showing that there was children inside. You know, sort of kids 8 to 12 years old that were being transported across from one side of the border to the other to be trafficked to, you know, just a horrendous life that no child deserves. So that was really, you know, the impactful moment for me was that these guys trust us now and they want our help, you know, and building that relationship.

That was the big plus for me. Absolutely. So do you think in that situation were those kids probably being trafficked for labor trafficking? Yeah, it could be labor trafficking. It could be forced begging. You know, a lot of the children that end up on the streets start out as forced begging and then as they get older, you know, the kids get a bit older and stronger, they use them for labor trafficking.

You know, if they're girls, they beg and then they use them for sex trafficking after that. So it's not sort of, you know, it's not just a long thing, you know, it pushes them down a lot that, you know, can take so many different horrible turns and twists along the way until someone comes and cares enough to go further and go somewhere where other people won't go and try and help them. And that's incredible that they felt comfortable coming to you and that, you know, coming to you guys in that situation where they had found this and sharing it with you, it does open up that next level of trust within these countries. It's those partnerships and networks that we talk about building as, you know, as the counter human trafficking team, right?

It's that relationship that matters because it's what moves things forward, moves the needle forward. TC, is there anything that stood out to you specifically during this conference that really just drove home for you the impact of it? Absolutely.

So I want to go back just a little bit and talk about Sean's example there. So I saw the video of the kids in bags. You know, like, think about that whole scenario. Like, there's nobody willing to protect that child, those kids, and it was more than one, to keep them from being put in a bag and the top sealed shut, thrown in a vehicle and taken across the border.

Zero people were looking out for that. I'm not sure if the police got a tip or whatever to get them rescued, but, you know, I had to take these kids out of a bag. Like, I can't, that in and of itself, what that would do to the psyche of a child is incalculable. So I, you know, it's very frustrating. It's maddening and it's one of the things, one of the many things that just keeps us moving and motivated.

In another level, something kind of a different way. Well, when we went to this conference, one of the things that we want to show the attending countries was that the task force has resources. We tried to emphasize that. We did emphasize that. One of the things we did was we had Guillermo Galarza from ICMEK come and talk about child exploitation on the Internet. And so this part of Africa is getting ready to get 5G.

They have it in some places, but I guess it's going to become, you know, in a much more vibrant way, I guess you could say. And so he presented in real time what it looks like with the different ways that child exploitative material happens on the Internet and even there in some of these countries. And so he was able to show that. We were able to talk about it. And Sean and Gigi and I started working on, I think it was Sean's idea originally, like what could we do to actually make this information actionable intelligence whereby the country can, with some assistance, actually go and have an immediate impact based on the information received. Again, it's easy to have a conference, sit and talk and go back home, talk theory and things like that, but to actually turn the conference, the information and the expertise into a rest of bad people doing bad things is the next step. And, you know, Sean can talk about it, but we've already started that, you know, to pull that string and to get that to happen.

So that was one of the very, very important thing that happened at the conference that I think it was a haha for everybody, really. Yeah. What a stark reality to know that, you know, we're talking about a place that is already vulnerable to so many different types of trafficking.

Right. And then on top of that, you're adding in the component of see Sam, you know, child sexual exploitation material like that's that is unreal to consider that. There's just like one more thing to add to the mix, as if the people in these countries that are trying to fight it as it is, aren't already overwhelmed by the amount of what's going on. You know, now there's one more thing to be concerned with.

But the beauty in that is being able to offer a resource to say, Hey, don't be overwhelmed. We're gonna we're gonna step in beside you on this, you know, and for those that don't know what Nick Mac is, will you will you share that Sean what Nick Mac stands for and a little bit about that relationship? Yeah, so they're the national crime for missing and exploited children.

An amazing organisation, technically an NGO, I believe, but receives government funding, I believe, don't quote me on that. But yeah, the guys came out from there, you know, were able to just in real time, I think a lot of older generation, especially this can be a little bit scary with the stuff and just how I don't really understand it and they kind of shy away from it, whereas they were able to show it in very simple and real time. As far as this is what is happening right now, in Australia, this is what is happening right now in New York, America, this is happening in downtown Nairobi, and just show that it's a global problem.

No one is lucky enough not to have it happening in their backyard. But so what exactly what TC was saying there, it's all well and good to know about this and so well and good to share the knowledge, but we're gonna do about it. And thankfully, the Nick Mac guys are on board. The representative from the Ivory Coast reached out straight after the conference and said that they would like to get the software, they would like to have some training on the software, and they want to access what they find during that training. So we're currently in the process of putting together probably a five to seven day package with a number of collaborators, some of their police, some of their prosecutors, the Nick Mac guys, some guys from the task force to head over there. And what the plan is, is to train their officers up, and then act in some of the go and make some arrests.

That's the plan. I'm willing everyone's on board and we can make it happen and we can show these guys that this is a thing and you don't have an impact. Can I say what I love about what you guys did with this conference and and all of the people coming collectively together is, yes, there's already a problem existing but so often we get stuck playing defense right like it's picking up the ball for my football fanatics out there.

It's picking up the ball, you know, on the defense and because because it's a mess right or defending the line but it's, you know, this gave an opportunity with the five GPS coming in to go ahead and set up the offense right determine, hey, we're going to go ahead and move the ball in the opposite direction before it even becomes an issue. And so that is that is a neat piece of this is that we don't have to, we don't have to wait for things to get bad, right, we get to kind of come in and step in and these, these countries are willing to do that and train up people to come in and step in before it becomes even more of an issue than what it is to not just have to be reactive but proactive in it and I don't, I know in the line of work that we do it's not always, we don't always get that option. We're counter human trafficking is we're countering the things that are already occurring but in this in this situation it's almost like we get to be a little bit ahead of it. Sometimes it does feel like whack a mole and whack a mole is actually necessary those things need to happen to the kids need to be taken out of the bag, so to speak, like, right, that wasn't prevented.

But on the other hand, it would be nice to be able to pull the plug on the whack a mole machine, sometimes, and, you know, actually get ahead of the curve. And so, you know, I mean, you know, in addition to the iconic piece and another, you know, this be my maybe my final thing on the conference for now we could talk for a while, but we were able to Sean and I and our interpreter were able to an Interpol guy who works in Benin he's kind of part of a task force the 30 man crew that can go anywhere in the country and make arrests in the trafficking field so you know another conferences are great but I actually don't like them were a little bit more kinetic. So, you know, Sean and I are very excited to be able to take this and as we call it, turn it into actionable Intel for the task force for the countries and actually get bad people behind bars and victims, you know, liberated.

Yeah, I mean, I'll add to that if you don't mind, he says, I think that's exactly right. The way I say we don't like conferences, we don't really like where it suits but it's more, it's more of it to me it's more about all on people's donations, and the people out there who are giving their hard earned money to this problem. Don't want to see it go into a morning tea and fancy lunch and, you know, a conference where everyone stands around and, and then nothing comes from it. So that's the side to me that is be all it to the people who dig into their, their hard earned bank accounts and provide us some money to actually make a difference. And we're very cognizant of that and we are very cognizant to make sure that, okay, if we are going to do this conference, it has to have a name and we have to be held accountable to making sure that there's something actionable and step in the right direction comes from the other You know what, that is an incredible point and I'm so glad you stopped on that for a moment because I think that is important for the people listening in to hear because you know this can seem like a very distant idea but really it's the people that are listening in and donating and giving to lantern that made this conference possible and for them to recognize Hey, we we see your heart in your stewardship of your funds and we plan we steward it well also, you know, now, and that comes down to everything from how we set it up to what we serve to all of us.

things. The end goal is always going to be children, you know, or people that are in these these situations, it's always going to be the people the victims and so every part of what we do financially is it plays into that ideas, you know, as you are stewarding your funds to lantern we're stewarding them as well, to make sure that we are reaching those those people that are left, no one would be there, right? It's like that story you told no one else who else would be there, no one else stopped them to that point. And so I think that that is just a powerful reminder to those that are listening that you are so much a part of this fight. I mean, we can't do it without you, you know, thank you for sharing that that is such an important piece on well, I think that kind of brings us to a wrap up guys.

Are there any last minute thoughts any prayer requests going forward that you would like to offer those that are listening in and there's a lot to be praying for as things continue to move in Africa. Briefly, from my perspective, as we've both said, no, this is just a piece, we continue to work on the strategy. We would like this to be a model, but we can't model it until we kind of have it nailed down. But it's also you know, no work is perfect. And we're willing to get started, even if it's a little bit messy at times. I also believe and I'm quite confident that the amount of work that will come out of this is going to be daunting. So that's definitely a prayer request, you know, just the wisdom for the resources, the wisdom for the community. The resources, the wisdom for the the contacts and you know, the strategy going forward and the ability to endure for those that are stepping into it, you know, those different countries that are stepping into it as well because it's a lot. It's a lot to take on. Well, thank you guys so much for taking time out to share with us about the conference and really just the beauty of what's been happening, you know, since then because of it. So it looks like there's a lot of great stuff in the pipeline and man, lots to pray for as well. So thank you TC and Shawn, you guys are wonderful and we're so appreciative of you being here. Thanks, guys. This is the Truth Network.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-01 14:25:40 / 2023-07-01 14:37:28 / 12

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