There are a lot of exciting things happening with the Melted team! First and foremost, we are growing fast! This past month Chef Aaron has taken on many new catering gigs and bigger events. We have actually gotten so busy that we are currently renting a truck to do regularly scheduled vending and using the original truck for other gigs and catering events. This growth has been crazy and I’m so happy we have been able to expand this fast, but it can’t stop here. Even though the business has been growing, we are still working towards our goal of writing IJM that first check!
Speaking of IJM I’d like to shed some light on some of the important work they are doing. In this day and age, many developing countries are beginning to gain Internet access. This is an amazing advancement for many reasons, but only if it is being utilized in the right ways. A rising problem that IJM workers have been dealing with is cyber-sex trafficking. This type of trafficking is when perpetrators sexually abuse children while broadcasting it live on the Internet to people who pay to watch. This trend has vastly been used in the Philippines where Internet access is becoming popularly available and English is commonly spoken. This type of trafficking is especially difficult to terminate because unlike “traditional” trafficking, it is usually the parents or relatives of the children that are profiting off of their exploitation.
Last April, I was fortunate enough to attend the IJM Global Prayer Gathering in Washington DC. There I was invited to meet with the field office director of the IJM base in Manila, Philippines: Sam Inocencio. I told him about the Melted project (which wasn’t even fully open at the time) and he was incredibly excited. I also got to hear about the things IJM is working on in the Philippines and what kind of challenges they are facing there. Sam told me about the epidemic of cyber-sex trafficking that was spreading rampantly through their country. He explained how this has taken an extreme emotional toll on not only the clients, but also everyone working on their cases. In order to help their clients, IJM workers have to listen to every testimonial and work on the cases for long periods of time. I, personally, can’t imagine trying to listen to these stories first hand and try not to become overwhelmed by the magnitude of horror these children have to endure. Sam explained that what the field workers need (besides resources to save the victims) is some sort of light they can hold on to. Something that encourages them to continue their emotionally damaging work and something that allows them to see that we are supporting them and all the other IJM members in other parts of the world.
There has been great achievement for offices in the Philippines. On August 10, 2016, IJM conducted their first conviction of live-streaming cybersex trafficking case. The IJM newsroom announces that in the town of Cebu, “a Filipino couple has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for live-streaming sexual abuse of their own children and broadcasting it to paying customers around the world. The children—3, 9 and 11 years old—were rescued from their home in September 2013 and have been living together at an aftercare shelter where they continue to work through the deep trauma of having been exploited by their parents.”
These kinds of accomplishments cannot go unnoticed. I have complete faith that the work IJM is doing to terminate cybersex trafficking, and all other forms of trafficking, is shaping the world in ways we can’t even comprehend.
To see more stories from other IJM offices and convictions, check out the “Newsroom” on their website.