Having a Vision for Good
In April of 2012 we took a chance. We had become concerned about the growing trend of child exploitation in Ecuador. We had been very engaged in our street child project in Mapisinge. We had heard from that community that kids in these communities were often exploited and coerced into difficult situations. There were rumors in the community that children were being kidnapped for organ transplants, trafficked into sex trade or forced into child labor situations in the banana groves.
One of the more disturbing concerns was regarding the use of children in a widespread pan handling scheme run by organized crime rings. These children were taken from parents or were tricked into believing there was a legitimate "job".
The rates of child labor in Ecuador are very high especially when it involves poor communities and indigenous people groups.
Our time in Mapisinge was coming to an end and we were considering next steps in our Ecuador program. We had made many contacts and wondered what our next focus would be. We had been troubled about recent findings that indicated that trafficking was escalating throughout the country and it was impacting kids. We made the decision to take a chance.
We coordinated a vision casting trip to meet with all of our Ecuador contacts. Our mission was to share concern about human trafficking and how it could impact kids. There was no guarantee that we would convince anyone that this was a real problem but we believed that we needed to share our concern.
We spent a week traveling throughout Quito and northern Ecuador. We shared our concerns about the concept of "Exploitation of Vulnerabilities" and how kids from poor communinities are at risk.
Sometimes taking a chance is uncomfortable. Working through peoples agendas to encourage them to care about at risk kids is challenging. We live in a world full of challanges and at risk youth is just one of many. We took this chance because we believe that kids are worth the effort. We believe that they need us to advocate for them. This trip was worth the risk. We have been so impressed with the work of Intersalud in addressing high risk communities about the risk of exploitation. Please check our story of hope in the "Footprints" program!