Rescue, Restoration, Resource, Re-Engage
The number one export of the Philippines is people, both legally and illegally. The sex trade in the Philippines uses nearly 500,000 individuals to satisfy local demand from sexual tourists. Nearly all of those 500,000 people are unwilling participants who relocate from impoverished provinces to large cities looking for legitimate work to provide for their families. The average age of a person bound by the Filipino sex industry is between 17 and 29 years old. Nearly 75,000 of these victims are children. The numbers of these oppressed people are set to grow exponentially over the coming years as the wealth disparity continues to grow.
What does REACH.PH do?
As the 4-word mission implies the first step is to rescue those that can be reached. Most sexual transactions in the Philippines begin in a bar, where a finely tuned exchange system has been established. Initially, REACH will go into these bars where young men and women are put up for sale and secure their freedom for the evening. Immediately, everyone will be given a hot meal and an opportunity to seek asylum in the REACH house. If they choose to escape, then the individuals will be taken to an undisclosed, secure location and provided a safe place to stay and allowed time to safely decompress from their trauma. REACH will provide all the necessities of life, including food, shelter, clothing, and contact with their families as well as offering specific training in phone-based Customer Service.
Why Phone-Based Customer Service?
Cebu Philippines is the call center capital of the world; most major corporations employ call centers in the Philippines – and specifically in Cebu. REACH has developed a relationship with one of the largest call centers in Cebu who are willing to hire trained call center staff. The starting salary of a trained call center employee is far higher than the normal living wage in the Philippines of $300 a month and is considered one of the most sought-after jobs.
What about college?
REACH believes in education as a mechanism for defeating poverty. Higher education is available to all Filipinos through the community college system. However, the fees associated with college prohibit most rural Filipinos from realizing this dream. Though the education is free, the expensive school fees are more than most people can afford. With this in mind, REACH will also assist its members with the ability to receive this higher education.
Then what? Kenny Sacht of Wipe Every Tear describes the “then what” as the most difficult part of helping trafficked individuals. According to Mr. Sacht, there are many people who have a heart to help but have no end-goal to help keep these individuals from being pulled back into the sex trade. REACH’s strategic training program culminates in a guaranteed job offer for each graduate. The goal is for everyone to be restored, resourced, and allowed to re-engage the work force and their families, rebuilding the life they were denied while enslaved by the sex trade.
What does life look like at the Safe House?
The Koinonia house (the safe house) will be a true community. As a family everyone will eat together, work together, pray and worship together, and find healing together. Every house member will have a part to play in keeping things moving in the safe house, and each day will include time for job skills training. REACH has partnered with Licensed Professional Counselors to provide Zoom counseling sessions for each house member, giving them a pathway to trauma recovery. There will be ample opportunity for individual growth in the house, including faith-based coaching to help the members make better day-to-day life choices.
Every house member will be looking forward to graduation day, when they can enjoy their newfound freedom, job, and family. REACH will provide a plane ticket home for each graduate, so they can celebrate with their families. REACH will also assist them in securing a safe place to transition to begin their new journey.