Saturday, October 8, 2011

Making a Diference...One Mission at a Time

And so we begin....In the daily effort to keep everyone up to date on our activities…I am filing this report…suffice to say the Life On Point Team is working hard. Besides keeping a close watch for narcotics in this jungle environment, we are monitoring the flow of boats along the river in our operational area looking for a different type of illegal merchandise -- women and girls being trafficked into a thriving sex industry from Burma.
On a recent evening, several of the boats inched their way down the river. We established a checkpoint and immediately boarded the boats looking for those whose only chance at freedom was if we were able to identify them and wrestle them from these criminals. Our team consists of an American, a Burmese interpreter and several well paid Karen rebels hell bent on securing freedom for these women and girls. The trafficking networks in this area are well organized; after a series of discussions punctuated with the threat of violence and a thorough search of the vessel we found communications equipment that rivaled anything I had seen or used in the last 20 years in the military. Our check point just across the border from Thailand was paying off. We stopped a total of 10 vessels over a 24 hour period and secured weapons, drugs and other materials…but no women or young girls. I was told that riverine pirates were bringing in illegal immigrants as sex slaves through these channels but as on this evening we found nothing other then illegal equipment. If nothing else taking it and dropping it in the river eliminates threats later that we might have to deal with.
24 Hours Later... On a very dark night with no illumination very deep in the jungle, we made a breakthrough. We were able to “capture” four Burmese pirates who were in the process of taking 4 women from the village close to our camp. Had they made it to the boat these women would have disappeared forever..and the "legal system took over...after conferring with the village elder the rebels assigned to our team took the traffickers deep into the jungle – I never saw them again…nor did I care to ask “what happened?” …for you see…here in Burma you know the answer before the question is even asked. The challenge is daunting for the Life On Point Team…there are way too many points to cover where this type of activity takes place...but it does...way to often. 
You never know…
The jungle invites many mysteries and stories. I was recently alerted that an “American woman” was in the area and approaching the village. When we finally met her she was stunned to see these “advisors” working so deep in this area. She stated she worked for an American charity and that she too had illegally entered the country. Then she told us about what she had seen in the villages just to the north…systematic rape and torture…and so now she was on the run. We made sure that she got back across to safety…a sort of “American’s helping American’s” in a far off land.
After her travel back to Bangkok our office received an email stating she was home…and a sincere “thank you” for getting her home to her family. The end of the story…no…she states she will be back helping those that suffered the most in that brutal attack. I did not have the heart to tell her that those women who were so brutally rape were subsequently taken across the border a couple of weeks ago. As of this writing...we missed them and the opportunity to bring them home…and yet for every success there are countless failures predicated upon the size of the problem.
The area we are located in southern Burma has a catapulted to the frontlines in the battle against trafficking primarily because of its proximity to rural Thailand that our intelligence has identified as supplying women and girls to the regional trafficking networks. On a daily basis  of entry along the Thai-Burmese border and miles upon miles along the rivers where it is easy to steal human life and sell it for whatever purpose.  
I see women not just from Burma but also Laos and even southern China as they transit on foot to the flesh markets in Bangkok or other Asian capitals. It is a travesty to see these women as young as 14 on their way to a life that makes most of us sick. In the end our efforts to date have rescued 51 women (girls) over the past several months but such numbers are only a fraction of the poor and economically vulnerable women and girls trafficked into the sex trade across this jungle. There are reports that over two million women and children are trapped in the global child-sex trade.
In the End...
I hope these figures are incorrect…if not…then we have an inordinate amount of work left to do. Sometimes violence, or the threat of such is the only way to get things done…here in the jungle…it is the law by which we operate…and continue to make a difference.
I miss you...and love you always!

1 comment:

  1. I love your blog! You are a hero!