What's Happening


Updated: Nov 17

One man is FREE from trafficking thanks to another survivor's bravery.

Jaelle is the survivor we recovered at a gas station a few weeks ago. She was helping the police find a network of traffickers and release 16 other survivors when she became very sick. The trauma of re-telling her story was too much. She was taken to the hospital.

After 5 days of intense treatment, she was strong enough to finish telling her story to investigators. Our team took her back to the police station. When they arrived, a lady was at the police stations crying out loud, "Please help me, please help me with my son."

One of our team members went to see how we could help her.

It turns out this woman's son was 32 years old and had been working abroad for 3 years. In June, he called home to tell his mother he was coming home. That was the last time she heard from him.

She appealed to all the police she met. She wrote to the embassy. She prayed at every church and monastery she could find. Nothing happened for five long months.

Just as she finished, our team member got a call from a partner in the country where the woman's son was. He told our partner about the woman's son. Soon, we were connected with somebody working at the embassy. They began to search for her son.

Within 24 hours, we received a video of the woman's son. He had been trafficked by his godfather, who stole all of his money and said he owed a debt of more than 25,000 euros. The woman's son was being trafficked - forced to beg and pick pockets at a train station.

Our team sprang into action. We have arranged with the partner to get this young man back home. Our police partners will greet him and take him to one of our ministry partners. There, he can be cared for and reunited with his mother.

You have been praying for Jaelle's restoration. Your prayers have been answered but more than that, Jaelle has now been a part of rescuing someone else from trafficking.

Jaelle's journey started when our European Director stopped and rescued her from a parking lot. Once free, she wanted to help free others. She was bold enough to testify about her trafficker. Her testimony is helping us locate 16 more survivors. Then, her bravery in giving her testimony opened the door to another man's deliverance.

Jaelle's story shows that each one of us can hold the key to another person's freedom. You hold the key, too.

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We are thrilled to announce that Marty Marcolongo has joined the fight against human trafficking as our Chief Operating Officer! He comes to us from the Air Force Academy Association of Graduates, where he served for over 20 years. Most recently, he led the organization as its President and COO. He brings a keen sense of strategy, expertise in Eastern Europe, and most importantly, a heart that dedicated to ending human trafficking once and for all.

It was nearly 18 years ago that Marty heard about human trafficking for the first time. He was in his car, driving to visit a chapter of Air Force Academy alumni. As he was flipping through radio stations, he heard a story come on the air. It was about Human Trafficking, particularly warning drivers nearby to look out for signs of trafficking at Truck Stops. It was in this report that Marty first realized that human trafficking was all around him, that he could be passing survivors as he drove.

“I choked up,” Marty says. “Here I was. I had been educated at one of the top universities in the country. I had worked as an intelligence officer for years, and I had never known that this was happening in my own country, in my own backyard.”

He was determined to do something. “I spent a lot of time talking to God that evening. I came up with ‘Marty’s Plan.’ As I was praying, I knew that I needed to learn the skills to run a nonprofit if I really wanted to make a difference. It was then that I resolved to work at a world-class nonprofit until I was 60 years old and learn everything I could. Then, I would take all of those skills and work for an anti-trafficking organization.”

God had a slightly shorter timeline in mind. This past July, Marty heard God say to him, “You’re ready now. What are you waiting for?” It was 5 years earlier than the plan. But Marty listened, walked right into his supervisor’s office and said he needed to step down. It was time to pursue human trafficking.

Lt. General Mike Gould, Marty’s boss and long-time colleague, took a moment to absorb the news. Then he spoke. “You know, I know someone who is involved with human trafficking and runs an anti-trafficking organization. Could I introduce you to her?” he asked Marty.

Marty met with our founder and CEO, Kim Westfall, a few short weeks later. “Kim asked me about how I came to be so passionate about human trafficking. I sort of chuckled and said it was kind of a weird story. Kim just said ‘We’re used to weird stories at Uncaged.’” They both walked away from the meeting grateful and marveling at how good of a fit it seemed.

“It’s tough for a person like me, who loves logic and strategy, to go on faith,” Marty muses, “but I knew it was the right thing to do.” He was struck that Kim understood the vastness of human trafficking but remained confident that there was a solution. He says “99% of people” look at something like human trafficking and give up, but Kim said it wasn’t too big for God.

The message resonated with Marty. “When I started using the phrase ‘service for a lifetime’ with Air Force Academy graduates, I always talked about how changing the world for one person has generational consequences. It’s the same thing that Uncaged is doing. Just a few weeks ago, we rescued one survivor and she led us to a dozen more who are going to go free. We impact one survivor, and she can change hundreds, if not thousands of people. It’s how changing the world for one person can end up changing the world.”

We are ready to start changing the world. It all starts as we unlock transformation for hundreds, even thousands of survivors. Your support and encouragement is instrumental in connecting us to people like Marty and in raising an army of people who can end trafficking once and for all.

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At Uncaged, we have had the honor of supporting survivors in court. Sometimes, they are defending themselves against traffickers who are trying to exploit them again. Other times, including recently with a survivor we'll call Talyssa, we support survivors as they take action against their traffickers.

Any time a trafficking survivor decides to confront her abuser in court, we stand in awe of her resilience and courage. She's already been through hell, and now she is facing the man who put her there. It's incredible! At the same time, we know that not all survivors will choose to testify against their traffickers. We understand this choice, too. Here are a few reasons why some trafficking survivors may not pursue legal action against their abusers.

#1 It can be retraumatizing to relive their experience

Investigators and law enforcement do not always take a trauma-informed approach when working with a survivor. The way they ask questions or interrogate a survivor may be frightening or even retraumatizing.

#2 May Jeopardize Health

Most of the time, trafficking survivors' bodies have been brutalized. We often work with survivors who have infections, poorly healed wounds, dental issues, or more. Testifying against traffickers can be exhausting, taxing their bodies when they're already weak.

#3 Fear of Retribution

Many traffickers are affiliated with organized crime. Even worse, traffickers often threaten survivors. Sometimes, this means threatening to shame them by telling lies about them back home, threatening to harm their children, or worse.

#4 Feelings of Powerlessness

The experience of being trafficked can crush a survivor's sense of choice, voice, and power. They may not think that anyone will listen to them, or they think their trafficker is too powerful to be taken down.

#5 Lack of resources

When a survivor goes free, she often has no income, housing, medical care and has few places to turn. She may not know how to start a case against her trafficker or know what rights she has. Even if she does, finding and hiring an attorney can feel out of reach.

#6 May still feel connected to Trafficker

One of the most damaging parts of trafficking is that traffickers often lure their survivors in with promises of love and affection. For survivors who have experienced previous abuse or child survivors, they may still feel like their trafficker loves them in a warped way. This can be even more complicated for child survivors whose parents were involved in trafficking them.

At Uncaged, we are working to end trafficking in our lifetime and unlocking transformation for survivors. We know that in order to restore survivors, we must make space to honor their choices. Even if a survivor chooses not to pursue legal action against her trafficker, she still needs holistic support, including legal counsel. Sometimes, taking care of her mental, emotional, and physical needs may open the door to action later on, too.

Together, we are fighting for freedom and coming alongside each survivor in her journey. You hold the key!

to a survivor's fight for freedom.

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