PlainJoe, A Storyland Studio has selected Agape International Missions (AIM) as the grand prize recipient of its 2023 Design Intervention Challenge.
AIM is dedicated to rescuing, healing, and transforming survivors of human trafficking worldwide, with a particular focus on assisting victims in Cambodia.
“We’re so excited to serve AIM’s transformative mission through strategic and spatial storytelling,” says Matt Ferguson, Chief Innovation Officer at PlainJoe. “Human trafficking is one of the most heart-wrenching, horrific experiences anyone could ever endure. It’s an honor to assist an organization that’s dedicated to ending this modern-day slavery, one person at a time.”
AIM is set to receive 200 free hours of design work from the PlainJoe team, which will span from brand messaging to spatial design.
Founded in 1988 by Don and Bridget Brewster, AIM is dedicated to ending child sex slavery.
“The problem of trafficking in Cambodia was severe,” says Clayton Butler, CEO of AIM. “The Brewsters realized that although girls were being rescued, there weren’t many facilities where they could receive restoration care.”
According to Butler, the initial idea was to create a home for victims, but that idea has now evolved into a holistic model of recovery and restoration. Survivors who enter AIM’s program can not only heal and recover, but also gain essential job skills and be reintegrated into society, free from the world of prostitution and sex slavery.
“We’ve seen amazing success,” he says. “Over the last 18 years, we’ve seen over 1,700 girls rescued from trafficking, and we’ve seen some of the toughest red-light districts transformed.”
As of October 2023, AIM had also played a key role in 590 trafficking-related arrests.
To conduct rescues, AIM has built an anti-trafficking SWAT team, which includes former trafficking survivors. The SWAT team partners with local law enforcement to shut down brothels and rescues victims of sex slavery. AIM then shelters these victims in its homes (whose locations are undisclosed), where they can receive restoration care.
“The trauma they go through is extensive,” Butler says. “You can’t say, ‘Hey, you’re free now.’ This is an all-hands-on-deck program to get them to a place where they can go from just being a survivor to someone who’s thriving.”
AIM’s facilities provide on-site education, medical care, counseling, and social work. House “moms” are available to provide a motherly presence to victims who may have never experienced nurturing in their own homes. Survivors are also given legal assistance as progress through their court cases.
“We may have the girls in our care for around two years–sometimes a little bit more, sometimes a little bit less–getting them ready for independent living,” Butler says.
In addition to rescuing and serving survivors of trafficking, AIM is also dedicated to doing transformational work in their communities of origin. According to Butler, AIM seeks to learn what neighborhoods and villages the girls came from, then works to identify the core problems in those communities, with the goal of stopping trafficking activity before it begins.
“We’re working in red-light districts and in broken communities to actually see those communities transformed at the source,” Butler says.
In one Cambodian community, AIM started a church and community center at the site of a brothel that had been raided by police. The center began to provide medical outreach, followed by a number of community programs. Its educational program currently has 800 students enrolled.
AIM has also begun programs geared toward at-risk male youth: individuals susceptible to becoming traffickers themselves.
“We started a kickboxing gym for gang members and drug dealers,” Butler says. “Our mission is to free hearts, lives, and communities from the evil of sex trafficking in Jesus’s name, and in Jesus’s way. Jesus even serves his enemies, and that’s part of what we’re called to do.”
Finally, AIM’s employment center provides on-site job training for survivors. In this way, women who have come out of trafficking can experience safe employment, even before they reintegrate into society.
“AIM is providing boots-on-the-ground healing and transformation not only to individuals through one-on-one restorative care, but to entire communities,” says Mel McGowan, Chief Creative Officer at PlainJoe. “It’s an honor to come alongside such a courageous and selfless team to help steward and share their story with the world.”
Learn more about Agape International Missions, including how you can support the organization, at https://aimfree.org/.
PlainJoe: A Storyland Studio is dedicated to serving cause- and faith-based organizations around the world. Learn more about PlainJoe at https://www.plainjoestudios.com/.