Rebuilding Hope, August 2012 edition
When Ji, age 14, became involved with a religious group in his small town in China, he was ostracized and teased at school. But then local authorities threatened the family. Within a year it escalated to violent bullying and death threats, and Ji became afraid to leave his house. His parents worried they would lose their jobs.
Ji’s parents worked in a factory, earning just enough to feed and clothe the family of three and send a little help to their elderly parents. But they couldn’t afford to move nor did they have relatives who could take Ji. So Ji’s parents decided that they had to send their son to the United States.
Ji’s mother had a cousin, Quon, who agreed for Ji to come live with him. A smuggler got Ji through customs and took him to Quon, who seemed nice at first. But soon he told Ji that his parents only paid half the smuggling costs and still owed him a great deal of money. Ji would have to pay it off by working in his restaurants.
Six months later, Ji was going to school most days, but worked in the restaurant for 6-8 hours after school and all weekend. He struggled with English and his studies, but avoided getting close to teachers and other students so no one would know what was really going on.
Then one evening the restaurant was raided by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as the restaurant had been under investigation for suspected hiring of undocumented immigrants. Workers were taken into federal custody and Ji was taken to to a shelter for undocumented children to determine his status.
As a victim of trafficking unable to return to his home country, Ji qualified for a special visa to stay in the United States. Foster care was determined to be the best option for Ji since he was under 18, and that’s when Ji’s case was sent to LIRS for his care. LIRS staff placed him with an experienced foster family through a partner organization, and the family gave him a safe and loving environment in which to grow. Ji was able to attend school again without distraction!
LIRS encounters hundreds of trafficking victims every year through our children’s services programs. Some children are trafficked for labor, others for sex work. Thanks to the support of friends like you, LIRS can ensure these children receive the services they critically need to start the recovery process. And one of the most important services we provide for them is foster care placement.
Thanks to the support of friends like you, LIRS can ensure these children receive the services they critically need to start the recovery process.
Our foster care program places trafficking victims into loving families where they can grow up in safety and protection. For victims like Ji, “family” can no longer mean the family he was born with. It must simply mean being safe and cared for in a loving environment. And LIRS strives to make sure this is possible.
LIRS is one of two organizations in the world that provides specialized foster care services for unaccompanied refugee children and trafficking victims. And we are only able to continue helping them because of the generous support of friends like you. Thank you so much for helping children like Ji find a place they can call home!