Changing Lives One Business at a Time By Gretta Cassanego
My name is Gretta and I am the NSW Partnership Coordinator at Destiny Rescue.
Our mission is to rescue children from sexual exploitation and human trafficking, and help them stay free. Our vision is to play a leading role in ending the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children in our lifetime. Our vision is big and bold. By 2032 our goal is to rescue 100.000 children, with your help we believe we can do it. Imagine what it would be like if you or your child fall pray as victim of human trafficking:
You have lost your power to choose.
You cannot choose your job.
You cannot choose how to spend your time.
You cannot choose when you sleep, eat or what you do with your body.
You are robbed of your freedom and endure physical, sexual and emotional abuse.
In the time that it took to read this, another girl or woman somewhere in the world was enslaved.
Human Trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people through force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them for profit. Men, women and children of all ages and from all backgrounds can become victims of this crime, which occurs in every region of the world. The traffickers often use violence or fraudulent employment agencies and fake promises of education and job opportunities to trick and coerce their victims.
Destiny Rescue’s story began with founder and International Director Tony Kirwan in 2001. While living in Thailand he was made aware that children were sexually exploited, from then on he knew he needed to do something about it . It was at this point that God put a dream in his heart and Destiny Rescue was born.
Since our humble beginnings we have expanded to 12 countries across three continents such as Africa, South East Asia and Latin America.
So far we have rescued 12,809 children, in 2022 we were able to rescue 3144 children, and this year so far we have achieved 1477 rescues. You might be wondering how we achieve rescue children and what happens after rescue.
Let me explain this better by sharing these stories with you. It will give you a glimpse of how we work and a window into a child’s life.
There is power in freedom, and there is power in empowering a survivor to gain financial independence, not only for them, but for their families and communities. Come with me to Kenya, one of our rescue nations…
When James learned he could help his nephew, he jumped at the chance. As a clinician for a small private practice in Kenya, he already had a heart for helping others. But his practice was small and served a largely impoverished community, meaning that finances were always tight. Adding another family member who would need special care seemed out of reach, but Natori, his 12-year-old nephew, had recently been rescued from sexual exploitation and needed a safe place to live.
That’s where our small business solutions came in.
As part of his practice, James maintained a small pharmacy. Because his profit margin was so thin, he needed help keeping vital medicines stocked to serve the community. He’d always dreamed of expanding the pharmacy but could never get enough headway to upgrade. To help his business grow, our small business program, an extension of Natori’s Freedom Plan™, temporarily funded James’ pharmacy to finally get the medicine supplies he needed.
(Image is representational)
Once the pharmacy was fully stocked, James saw a difference immediately. The abundance of medicine boosted his practice’s ability to serve the hurt and sick, and the small business began to take off. His family was able to take in and care for Natori’s needs. The business’s success offered the opportunity not only to feed and clothe their new charge, but also to pay for his school fees.
Love in Action
Financial desperation is the primary driving force behind child exploitation.
Whenever possible after rescue, we ensure children live with safe family members equipped to care for their needs.
In Kenya, some survivors have been abandoned or lost their parents to AIDS. Without parents to provide for them and limited educational opportunities, children are forced to sell the only thing they have left: their bodies.
(Kids running at a Destiny Rescue home in Kenya)
After rescuing these children, we seek to place them with vetted, established families who can provide them with a safe, stable environment. Fortunately, local church members have been stepping up to care for these dear survivors as foster parents. Many, like James, are eager to become guardians for family members who’ve suffered exploitation.
The response we’ve seen is nothing short of incredible. These families, many of whom live with little-to-no financial margin, exhibit radical obedience to the biblical call to “do justice to the afflicted and destitute” (Psalm 82).
Giving of what little they have, families graciously welcome these hurting survivors into their homes, tangibly demonstrating Christ’s love.
As part of our mission to keep rescued children free, we do all we can to ensure that these amazing families are equipped to care for their new children. “These guardians are willing to help,” our resident business manager in Kenya, Joyce, said. “Most of them have their own family… (they) cannot provide everything to the child.”
One of the economic solutions that is particularly useful in bridging that gap is our small business program.For many small business projects (about 60%), we help foster parents or guardians establish new small businesses.
Joyce is inspired by her mother’s example of hard work selling second-hand clothing. She’s become a skilled business advisor whose business acumen and expertise in market principles are invaluable to new small business owners. But no matter how deep Joyce goes into the minutia of financial management, she never forgets the end goal of her efforts: “Businesses create long-term sustainability for the child.”
She works closely with each owner to get them started and then does regular check-ins in the following months, ensuring that things run smoothly. Whether it’s at a market selling food, clothes or boutique items or providing a service like hairdressing or sewing, we take the time to sit down with each entrepreneur to see what type of work they’d enjoy. From there, Joyce helps them make strategic decisions (such as selling in-demand products) with their ideas to make the business profitable.
Like in James’ case, about 40% of the businesses we help already exist. We give such businesses a temporary boost that will result in long-term growth. For some, it’s helping them move to a more profitable market to sell their products. For others, like James, investing in a specific aspect of their business will strengthen it overall. Our goal is to see these small businesses reach a sustainable level of growth that prepares them to provide for the survivors in their care indefinitely.
(James during interview)
Foster parents and guardians alike are committed to caring for and loving the children in their care for the long haul—even after the children’s Freedom Plans are complete.
James says that the positive changes in Natori are evident.
With access to three meals a day, Natori’s health has improved noticeably. He can attend school again, and James is expecting to see an improvement in his grades as Natori settles into his more stable life. James is also a member of the project’s counselling team and is helping Natori process the trauma he’s endured.
Natori is one of many benefiting from the business expansion. James’ clinic, now better equipped to help the community, is having an impact.
We now get clients from outside who are able to buy medicine from here,” James said. “And we don’t take it for granted.”
(Survivors participate in an activity during Trauma Counselling)
By serving more people than ever before, the clinic is not only improving Natori’s life, but the community as a whole.
And with the success of his business, James is already thinking of ways to give back. “If we can get another opportunity to help any other child,” James said, smiling, “our answer is, ‘We are very much open now!’ Because we have seen that it’s possible.” What a beautiful example of generosity from James.
There are so many ways as Kingdom Women we have to extend generosity to others. Think of all the ways God has blessed you, your business, your family, all the things He has provided for you.
Generosity is all about the heart and not just about money.
Generosity is a blessing and it teaches us to trust God.
Proverbs 11:24 says ‘One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.’ It is righteous to practise generosity with our family, friends, community as the bible inspires. Not only do we gain favour with God by being generous, but we also spread compassion.
If you’d like to join James in creating new possibilities for these brave survivors. Your gift will fund our rescue efforts and the creation of life-changing small business opportunities transforming economic landscapes and communities even as they help children stay free.
Names have been changed to protect identities, and with that precaution in place, caregivers were proud to share photos of their businesses without visual identity protection.
Gretta Cassanego is the NSW Partnership Coordinator at Destiny Rescue.
You can find out more about Destiny Rescue HERE.
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