Fuller students invited to join in anti-trafficking efforts
Gasps and murmurs could be heard in Travis Auditorium on
Thursday, October 18 while Anita Kanaiya, co-director of Oasis India,
wove a tale of the desperation and horror she has encountered while working to
fight human trafficking in India.
The night, co-sponsored by anti-trafficking organization Oasis USA, Fuller's All Seminary Council and the School of Intercultural
Studies’ Children at Risk program, included a half-hour documentary about a dramatic effort to rescue children forced into beggary on the streets of
Fuller students, staff, and members of the community
attended the event to hear Kanaiya’s account and to learn how to get involved
with anti-trafficking efforts.
“The film wasn’t made as a film,” Kanaiya explained.
“Everything was filmed as it happened, because we wanted to pass it on to other
cities so they would know how to go about doing an operation like this.”
The rescue effort was called Operation
Rakshane–meaning Operation Protection–and was carried out less than a
year ago on December 2, 2011. The thrilling documentary, Handful of Dreams, told the story of how
the operation was organized, planned, and executed, resulting in the rescue of
300 trafficked children. The film was made by Bangalore police.
Kanaiya was instrumental in the effort and has been training
police in other cities in India. She was
by CNN in India after Operation Rakshane, which was widely covered by
Operation Rakshane was an unprecedented effort. It involved
collaboration of the police, numerous governmental organizations and seven
non-governmental agencies doing relief work. This type of cooperation rarely
happens in India, Kanaiya said. But its success proved the need for communities
to work together.
“Anita was asked by the police in Bangalore to help create a
database tying together all missing children reports amongst the 75 precincts
in the city,” said Desiree Segura-April, assistant professor of the children at risk at Fuller. “Oasis India created the database under
Anita’s direction and staffed the operation until the police could be trained
to take over. Within two months of implementing the database, half of the 2,200
missing children cases were able to be closed.”
Kanaiya told the audience that she never wanted to work in
human trafficking, but after hearing the “horrific” stories of two young
trafficked girls years ago, she couldn’t turn back.
“I’m not a brave and courageous person by nature,” Kanaiya
said. But after her first rescue of trafficked girls, she said she couldn’t
return to normal. “Within about a year, I really got into this trafficking work
Kanaiya’s work often involves surveillance, investigation
and dangerous raids of dark brothels. She is also involved in the long journey
of working to rehabilitate and reintroduce trafficked girls into society.
She encouraged the audience to be brave and get involved in
bringing justice to communities.
“We pray, ‘Let your kingdom come, God,’ but the process of
God’s kingdom coming is messy,” Kanaiya said. “It is going to ask for us to be
involved in ways that will stretch us.”
She noted that when people introduce her at events it makes
her seem fearless and heroic. “But I’m just as ordinary as anyone sitting
here,” she said. “It’s important that each of us finds what God has called us
to do and do that first.”
The night ended with a question and answer session. One Fuller
student asked how current students can get involved with the organization.
Joel Griffith, Oasis USA’s executive director and a Fuller alum, listed several ways students can join
the effort to help fight trafficking.
Students can get involved with the local “TraffickFree
Communities”—groups that are set up to help local communities research
vulnerable areas for trafficking and work to fight it. Griffith noted that
there is a Pasadena group that meets monthly.
Many students have done and can continue to do their practicums
and internships with Oasis. There are opportunities to serve Oasis branches in
other countries, as well, he said.
Students, who are balancing heavy workloads, can also engage in
ad hoc volunteerism–providing a particular service when they can.
Griffith noted that Fuller students have a lot to offer and
he encouraged the audience to have hope that work is being done.
Here is what Griffith had to say to students from each school:
For the School of Theology:
“With Fuller there’s
an incredible connection, because we’ve got theologians and we need to convince
our churches that the idea of justice is a holistic concept,” Griffith said.
“Anybody who’s studied this knows what I’m talking about, because you’ve taken
the same classes and read the same books, but part of our job is convincing
churches to get involved and that this is actually part of God’s kingdom come.”
Of the 29 teams that participated in Operation Rakshane,
four of them were run by Oasis India, Kanaiya said. Each team had 10 people in
them, which means Oasis needed 45 bodies. “But we only have 25 staff in
Bangalore,” Kanaiya said. “The rest of the 20 we got from the church.”
She added that the church volunteers had no experience, but were
willing. “I think that’s what God looks at really,” she said.
For the School of Intercultural Studies:
Students from this school are integral in
running organizations like Oasis. There is always a need for people engaging
the issue on the non-governmental organization level, he said.
Griffith himself graduated from Fuller in 2010 with an MA in Cross-Cultural Studies.
For the School of Psychology:
Kanaiya said there is a great need, especially in India, for
“We really struggle with this aspect,” Kanaiya said. “Trauma
counseling is not easily available in India and counseling is really done by
social workers trained locally. They don’t have degrees in counseling.”
Kanaiya said Oasis staff is always called upon to
“double-up” as counselors. As a result, counseling is not professional but is
more relation. Christian counseling, in particular, is hard to come by.
“So, School of Psychology students, that was the voice of the Lord, right
there,” Griffith joked. He noted that the School of Psychology’s new Thrive
Center is also a fantastic addition to students’ training to meet a need in the
For more information on Oasis, go here.
If you missed Kanaiya's presentation, you can listen to her
speak on Friday, October 19 at Jameson
Brown Coffee Roasters in Pasadena at 7 p.m. She will also be speaking
Saturday night, October 20 at Hope
Christian Fellowship in San Gabriel.
To learn more about Anita Kanaiya's work, watch “There
Once was a Girl,” which tells the story of one girl’s return home after
being trafficked in the city.