Eastern Europe and the Far East are easily the two most significant factories for recruiting young girls (and boys) into the sex trafficking industry. I’ve been in Moldova for the last week, and it’s pretty disheartening. The Soviet era created a massive state-run orphanage system. In those days, loyalty to the Communist party was far more important than loyalty to family, so children were warehoused into massive orphanages. Once the Iron Curtain fell, paying for the children became much more difficult, and today, orphanages across Eastern Europe have fallen into horrible disrepair. With broken windows, outhouses, cold water, and little heat, orphans literally freeze to death every winter. Worse, when the orphans become 16 years old, they are released from the orphanages. They’re given a bus ticket to their hometown of record, (whether they know anyone there or not), a few bucks, and sent away. That’s where the traffickers step in. Meeting the kids literally at the bus station, they offer them jobs in restaurants or retail, and then kidnap them, never to be heard from again. Many are taken across the Adriatic Sea by high speed boat, and funneled to Italy, Northern Europe, and other parts of the world. As a result, the need is twofold – helping support and re-model the orphanages, and then providing a safe place where the children can go after they’re “aged out” of the system.
Philip Cameron came to Eastern Europe nearly 20 years ago and was horrified at the situation. He’s raised millions of dollars to install new windows, update plumbing, and re-do the lighting at multiple orphanages. Plus, he’s building a series of homes called “Stella’s Houses” to take in the girls once they leave the orphanage system. The interesting thing about Philip is that he’s not trying to be Slyvester Stallone or some other action hero out to stop the traffickers. He’s just out to be a “dad.” He’s providing the one thing most of these kids have never experienced – a loving, caring, and providing father.
It’s a brilliant strategy, because Philip’s focus is to “prevent” the trafficking in the first place. By taking in these potential victims, he’s removing the product off the market and keeping it out of the hands of very evil people. Most human trafficking organizations focus on the victims, and that’s great. But I have to admit that Philip’s strategy is different, and very effective. By diverting this young boys and girls away from the streets, he may be creating a model that could save an entire generation of lost children through Eastern Europe, and eventually the world.
I don’t often promote organizations on this blog, so when I do, you know it’s serious. What Philip Cameron is doing is incredibly important, and I’d urge you to consider supporting it.