Prevention Camp Helps Educate At-risk Youth in Romania
Our partners in Romania just held their first prevention camp for children this year (the last one they held was targeted at teenagers). They worked with local schools and Child Protective Services to identify at-risk youth who would benefit from attendance. This included children from local orphanages (of which there are many in Romania) and from less-than-optimal home situations. The 560 children ranged from 6 to 14 years old. The week long camp included both fun and informative sessions in order to fully engage the children.
At both prevention camps we worked with survivors of human trafficking who we have assisted in their recovery process. The survivors shared the stories of how they were trafficked so that the youth could learn how to identify and avoid risky situations. The survivors intermingled with the children throughout the camp, so that they were seen as trustworthy by the children. At the end of the camp the attendees shared their contact information with the staff so they can stay in touch, and so they can have someone to call in a risky situation. Many of these children did not have any adult figures to count on, but now the children have older individuals to look up to and trust in a time of need.
The after-care we provide is incredibly important to fight human trafficking, as it helps exploited individuals not only recover, but gain vital skills so that they will not run the risk of being re-trafficked. The preventative piece we provide is equally important, as it literally keeps people from entering our door as victims. This prevention includes both formal and informal education, with informal education, such as the camps, working to teach life skills to vulnerable people and kids.
Children are inherently vulnerable, as they do not have the knowledge or street smarts of an average adult, and in many instances, depend on someone else for their survival. When their parents are unable to care for or provide for them, they are either left on their own or in the hands of the state. With no one left to turn to, the children will often accept risky employment opportunities and the hope that they will be able to feed their grumbling stomachs. They may even have younger siblings who they need to support, and therefore are especially vulnerable. As for state institutions, children age out when they turn 17, and are left on their own to figure out their next steps. Traffickers prey on these teenagers, knowing that they have no family to notify the authorities of their disappearance. We have even tragically seen cases of social workers selling children to traffickers.
Clearly, the fight to end human trafficking is not over. Partner with us now to ensure that children are not for sale.