The World Cup is not only one of the biggest international sporting events on the planet, it is also, unfortunately, a huge magnet for human trafficking, often targeting vulnerable children, says Bill Horan, president of the global humanitarian organization, Operational Blessing International.
To help fight trafficking in Brazil, host country of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Operation Blessing International (OBI) has created 1 Real: The Other Side of the Coin, a documentary that is being shown in all 12 World Cup match cities in order to educate families and to help them protect their children from human trafficking.
Says OBI president Horan, human trafficking is a billion-dollar industry that exacts a heavy toll, especially on innocent children.
"When large sporting events come to town, young girls are at heavy risk. Not far from where a FIFA World Cup match will be played, a family member or sex trafficker will sell a young child to a predator for as little as 50 cents, or one real, the currency of Brazil," says Horan.
The 1 Real documentary cites a governmental report which states that some 40,000 children and adolescents disappear annually in Brazil, with roughly 15 percent of these cases going unsolved. David Darg, vice president of international operations for OBI, says "Operation Blessing is focused on the six thousand children each year who are never found; many are known to have been abducted for the trafficking industry."
The documentary features an interview with a trafficking perpetrator who explains how he targeted young girls, and also includes interviews with several young victims of sex trafficking. A trailer for 1 Real can be viewed here.
In eight of the 12 World Cup venue cities, OBI is conducting additional anti-trafficking awareness, prevention and intervention efforts, in addition to hosting screenings of the film. These vulnerable communities are Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Fortaleza, Natal, Recife, Salvador and Rio de Janeiro.
Local churches are supporting OBI in every city, providing housing, logistics, permits and food for the volunteers. OBI is partnering with local volunteer groups' Makanudos, YWAM kickoff, 27 Million, Stop the Traffik, and UN.GIFT.
OBI is helping to train churches, organizations and volunteers who can reach out to those on the streets. In addition, a special video geared towards the girls and young women who are working the streets has been produced and explains what trafficking is, how to search out a safe place, and how to denounce the practice. Another film, geared toward potential predators, sets out to dissuade them from purchasing sex.
Throughout Latin America and in other countries around the world, Operation Blessing is helping survivors of trafficking by partnering with shelters to provide a safe place to stay and education for the victims. OBI is also helping with training programs to teach victims marketable skills so they can secure gainful work or eventually start their own business.
Through local schools, OBI teams are meeting with students, teaching them how to avoid dangerous situations and taking a stand against abuse. This unique school outreach includes two award-winning documentaries, as well as other material and guidelines designed to help victims.