Freed: Hope and Mary’s Story

Two girls from the anti-OSEC programme in the Philippines (not Hope and Mary)

Filipino sisters, Hope and Mary, were trapped in one of the growing number of cases of online sexual exploitation which occur each year across the world.

Thanks, however, to the work of Viva’s partner network, PCMN, they were rescued and freed from their exploitation, as Emma Stonehouse writes.

PCMN, our partner network in the Philippines, is working to rescue and prevent children being forced into Online Sexual Exploitation (OSEC).

Eighty per cent of children in the Philippines have experienced some form of violence at home, in school, in their community or online. Seven in ten children are not aware of the services that may be able to help them.

PCMN is working to reduce these statistics, one case at a time, through their education and prevention campaign.

Through it, children and families are educated on different forms of OSEC and how to recognise it in their lives, and in the lives of their friends.

They are also made aware of the services that are there to help them, how to report sexual exploitation and ways they can prevent it.

PCMN has rolled out this programme in five villages around Dasmariñas City , and their ‘city-wide public schools campaign’ has reached 43 public schools with the message this year.

The network also helps survivors after they have been rescued, through recruiting and training parents to be able to offer foster care.

Alongside fostering, PCMN also partners with the Shechem Children’s Home, an assessment and ongoing support centre for survivors to provide children with vital counselling for their recovery.

Sisters, Hope and Mary, aged eight and ten years old respectively, were in a school which provided teaching on the danger of OSEC, thanks to PCMN’s campaign.

After hearing about it, Hope found the confidence and bravery to speak to PCMN’s youth mobiliser about the abuse that both she and her sister Mary were facing.

Along with government authorities, PCMN helped to rescue Hope and Mary from their abusive situation – and referred them to stay temporarily at the Shechem Children’s Home.

Both sisters were able to recover, and their family supported, through regular psycho-education, and family support days.

The sisters have now been reintegrated into their family and relocated to another part of the Philippines to continue to protect the sisters.

Due to PCMN’s education programme, and the collaborative nature of the network with government authorities and NGOs working to alleviate OSEC in the Philippines, Hope and Mary were able to identify the abuse that they were facing and find help, so that they could be freed from their exploitation.

Their message is simple: “Thank you for all of you who helped me and my family to be together. I hope that you can help more children like us.”

Thank you for your support for PCMN’s programme to eliminate OSEC for our 2018 Christmas Appeal.

Please continue to pray with our partner network in the Philippines.

Hope and Mary were able to be freed, but many children are still trapped in online sexual exploitation.

  • Please pray for these children; that they would be freed from their physical circumstances, and that there would be an increased awareness of this issue amongst peers, so they can identify the signs in their friends.

Collaboration with government authorities and other NGOs is essential for the success of PCMN’s work.

  • Pray that God would continue to bless these relationships – and that He would provide strength and safety when dealing with these situations.