“People want to help.
Many people would offer to help, one way or the other, but don’t know how. Our philosophy is to work hard, keep it simple and pure, and people will want to help us.” – Patrick Atkinson
ITEMP strives to prevent the trafficking of human beings. We believe that it is far easier to prevent a problem then it is to fix a problem. By educating the public about human trafficking we can create networks to solve this social ill.
ITEMP actively looks for, and assists children that are at very high risk of being trapped by traffickers. By working with poor communities and actively assisting children that are at risk of being sold into prostitution, begging, the rock quarries, the agricultural fields, and many other industries, ITEMP helps to stop a problem before it begins.
Education is the key to preventing human trafficking. When people are educated they are less likely to fall victim to the traffickers. Also, an educated public is more likely to identify the victims, and save a life trapped in slavery.
ITEMP annually conducts over 100 public presentations on human trafficking. They have been conducted from Nairobi to Okinawa, from Nantucket to Los Angeles. They have been conducted for US Embassy personnel in Central America and law schools in North Dakota.
The speech covers four areas: What is and is not Human Trafficking; Human Trafficking through the ages; Human Trafficking in today’s world; and most importantly, What you and I can do about it.
ITEMP, in coordination with the US Embassy and the Guatemalan government, conducted Guatemala’s first national human trafficking congress. We brought together over 750 professionals, from 7 countries, for a 3 day congress to discuss human trafficking.
Each member of the congress worked in a field in which they were likely to be exposed to human trafficking and its victims. This includes members of law enforcement, medical personnel, psychologists, media, the Guatemalan military, countless NGOs, and many more. By bringing all these different groups together, we were able to create networks through which victims could be identified and rescued.
With operations in Central America, Africa, Asia and the United States, ITEMP personnel actively investigate reports of trafficking, child labor, child prostitution, and forced labor. By doing the dirty and dangerous work of investigating these cases, ITEMP personnel bravely search for those who have had their voice taken from them.
One of the greatest crimes that a person can commit is to prostitute a child. Far too many of the cases that ITEMP personnel encounter involve the forced prostitution of children. Some of these cases involve a family member selling their son or daughter, brother or sister. Others involve the sale of children in the world’s brothels.
When ITEMP personnel discover a victim, we move aggressively to remove them from that situation. The faster a victim is safely removed from a dangerous situation, the faster ITEMP can begin to assist them in putting their life back together.
When encountering a case where children are being forced to work by their parents, we work with the families to create situations where the children do not work but rather go to school.
According to the International Labor Organization (ILO) there are approximately 214 million child laborers in the world. 126 million of them are working in hazardous conditions. The sad reality is that often these children are put to work by their parents or guardians. Parents do not do this because they want to; they do it because they have to.
Through the intervention of ITEMP, the value of a child’s education can realistically return to its rightful status. ITEMP provides the family with assistance worth more money than the child is bringing in, but we tie that assistance to the requirement that the child go to school.
Although ITEMP tries to keep families together, there are certain circumstances that we cannot permit. If there is any form of physical or sexual abuse, particularly when one family member is prostituting another, ITEMP’s legal department works with the local authorities to remove the victim and place them within our custody. The victim is then placed into ITEMP’s foster care network.
Engulfed in toxic smoke, Carmen (age 10) and Claudia (age 11) were forced to scavenge through the landfill all day. Digging through piles of burning garbage, they searched desperately to find anything of value.
Often ill, poverty stricken and on the verge of being sold into prostitution, Carmen and Claudia were discovered by ITEMP workers. Now they are well-fed, clean, and, most importantly, in school. They no longer have to rummage through the noxious fumes of burning debris. They now have a bright future, and thanks to ITEMP, a second chance at life.
Image by Tayler Aubin
It can take only a moment to destroy a life, but it can take years to put it back together again. ITEMP’s greatest gift to the victims of modern day slavery is the help they need to put their lives back together again. This is the long, hard slog, but it is the area ITEMP is best at.
ITEMP’s steps toward rehabilitation include: Shelter, Medical and Psychological evaluation, Education, and Legal Advocacy.
ITEMP ensures that all its victims have proper shelter. If the victim can be left in the custody of the parents, then the family receives living assistance. If the victim must be removed from the care of the family, or cannot be sent back to the family, then ITEMP will place them in our foster care network. In emergency cases, victims are given a temporary home within our shelters.
– ITEMP provides long-term housing to victims all victims.
– Children are placed with well-supervised foster families.
– Adults are placed with host families or provided with independent living assistance.
– All victims require some period of protective shelter.
Far too often victims suffer medical ailments due to their mistreatment. Every victim that comes into ITEMP’s care is given a full medical evaluation at one of our clinics. It is vital that ITEMP understand their short and long-term medical needs, so that we can begin to address them immediately.
– Upon initial contact, all victims are given a medical evaluation.
– All critical patients are given immediate care in order to ensure their survival.
– Common medical problems include: malnutrition, bruising, respiratory and digestive problems, STD’s (including HIV/AIDS), and much more…
– If any long-term medical issues are discovered, the necessary treatments regiment is established.
– The patient is given all the medical attention necessary to ensure their recovery.
Although the physical scars are the easiest to identify, it is often the emotional scars that victims receive that are the most enduring. Each victim that enters ITEMP’s care is given a psychological evaluation by one of our psychologists. They then receive continuing therapy for the damage that their captivity has caused.
– Upon initial contact, all victims are given a psychological evaluation.
– Common psychological problems include: depression, inability to form trusting relationships, uncontrollable rage, PTSD, and much more.
– Once the victim’s metal state is evaluated, the necessary treatments regiment is established.
– The victim is given the necessary psychological attention in order for them to live a normal life.
It is through decades of assisting victims that ITEMP has learned that education is the key to correcting the injustices of the past, and preventing the victims from being abused again. When a person has been given an education, they have a set of skills to sell. Having this skill set allows them to find meaningful employment.
Each victim in ITEMP’s care is provided with a formal education. As long as the victim is willing to study, ITEMP will continue to assist them with their learning.
Victims have been rescued at 8 years of age, and ITEMP assisted them until they graduated from medical school. It is for this reason that the rehabilitation is the longest part of the victim’s journey.
Because victims are so vulnerable, they do not always treated fairly by the authorities. ITEMP’s legal services ensure that each victim’s rights are respected, and that the legal systems meant to protect them do not take advantage of them. ITEMP’s legal services are often on the front line of interdicting on behalf of victims, and ensuring that the authorities treat the victims with respect.
ITEMP Legal Aid ensures the rights of the victim are protected.
– Far to often victim’s rights are trampled in an attempt to prosecute traffickers.
– The victim’s needs are ITEMP’s first priority.
– ITEMP Legal Aid also provides assistance in obtaining short-term as well as long-term visas.
– If applicable, Legal Aid can assist in the claiming of refugee status.
-In the case of children, ITEMP Legal Aid can will help to establish temporary and/or long-term legal guardianship.
As a society, we have endowed upon our governments the duty to protect us. Unfortunately, governments do not always adapt as fast to the changing world as criminals. ITEMP works tirelessly to advocate governments on behalf of victims of human trafficking.
Not every country or even every state within the US has laws criminalizing the trading of human flesh. ITEMP works with local, state, national, and international governing bodies to create strong anti-trafficking laws, that are victim centered.
ITEMP works with governments as well as organization to ensure that when tough anti-trafficking legislation is passed, that the authorities are enforcing the laws. This is often done by working in coordination with governments around the world.
ITEMP personnel have often been called to testify in court, either on behalf of victims or to assist in the conviction and punishment of traffickers. Testimony has been given in trails around the world, and in numerous languages. ITEMP works to ensure that the victims are protected and that traffickers are punished.