Not Abandoned

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Frequently Asked Questions

We are here to help

How are people trafficked? Can I be involved and help? Where does Not Abandoned work? The issue of sex slavery is complex and we’re exited that you want to learn more. Click through our extensive list of the most frequently asked questions below and if there’s something further that we can answer for you feel free to contact us.

How long has Not Abandoned been around?

In 1997 Not Abandoned’s founder, Jeff McKinley, traveled to the country of Thailand for the first time. It was then that he saw the issue of sex trafficking and its prevalence in the nation first hand. His role as mission’s pastor for a large church in Washington State brought him back to Thailand multiple times and specifically, the city of Pattaya. In 2008 Not Abandoned was officially launched for the purpose of addressing anti-trafficking issues in very direct ways by coming alongside victimized peoples with love, care and practical resources that provide opportunities to live in hope and freedom.

What makes you different from every other anti-trafficking organization?

Not Abandoned is an organization that’s hands on and practical in our work among those who are victims of trafficking by bringing real life solutions to the most challenging issues. What also sets up apart is our committed to going to the most difficult and unreached hot spots of trafficking where little-to-no are yet provided. Our committed to not only go, but also to establish a permanent presence of daily outreach, services and programs aiding women from human trafficking.

What’s the story behind the name “Not Abandoned”?

It is a fact that trafficked victims feel abandoned by everyone in their life-- their family, friends and society in general. They experience abuse, rejection, loneliness and a life of injustice. They are forced into a state of hopelessness and abandonment. Not Abandoned is committed to identify victims of slavery and exploitation, to seek them out, go to them, stand for them, be their voice, and to embrace their brokenness by providing support through safe community, new opportunities, love and care. The name Not Abandoned speaks to our understanding that the process of recovery is messy and complex and demands of us unconditional love for true restoration.

Out of all places, why did you begin working in Pattaya, Thailand?

Not Abandoned began working in Pattaya because this city is globally considered to be the “Mecca” of sex trafficking. Pattaya social services estimate 200,000 women and men, of a variety of ages, trapped in the sex industry of this town alone. On average there are 8 million tourist visitors a year who visit Pattaya, nearly 80% visiting for the purpose of the sex industry. In the 60s, Pattaya’s sex industry became the catalyst that triggered the global networking of trafficking syndicates and caused the crime to grow at an astronomical rate. Even today, what happens in Pattaya has a direct impact and influence on other trafficking hot spots around the world. Because of this, Not Abandoned has determined it imperative to continue working in this city alongside our expansion into other areas.

Where does Not Abandoned work around the world?

Not Abandoned works globally with a current stronger focus in the region of south east Asia, specifically in multiple cities in Thailand. The organization is also starting new bases and branches in Europe, the Caribbean and in major cities of the U.S. in collaboration and partnership with other organizations.

How many staff do you have?

The current number of fulltime staff is 10. The number of core, regularly active, volunteers is 35.

Are you a faith-based organization?

Not Abandoned is a Christian faith based non-profit. Many of our contributors and volunteers are both of Christian faith and non-Christian. The Not Abandoned team is impassioned by the lesson in Luke chapter 10 which calls us to come along side those who are hurting with practical help, no matter the sacrifice. We welcome anyone with a loving heart who has a passion and mission to help those who are enslaved and trafficked to join us in this cause. If you have any additional questions about our statement of faith and mission please feel free to email us at info@notabandoned.org.

Is the work you do dangerous?

The work in itself is not dangerous helping trafficked victims attain a new start in life leaving behind the sex industry completely. Depending on where the work is done there are areas and locations where trafficked victims are more controlled by different mafias who have a close watch and control on their sex workers. This can make it a bit more difficult to bring forth help and support programs. Pattaya is a safe city for tourists and teams. As long as they follow our safety guidance covered during pre-outreach training there should not be any problems.

Do you work with the local governments and police?

As much as possible Not Abandoned develops partnerships with local government entities for the purpose of coordinating efforts for the greater good of victims of sex trafficking. For the most part, coordinated efforts with these organizations and individuals are helpful with the goal of practical strategy allowing us to better reach and support those who are caught in the sex industry.

Who do you partner with?

Partnerships are developed with like minded organizations, churches, businesses and individuals who share common vision to help victims of sex trafficking in practical ways that will bring real freedom of life and opportunities.

Where do you get your funding?

Not Abandoned’s funding is provided by private donors, foundations and grants, churches, businesses and social enterprises. Yearly fundraising campaigns are carried out throughout the year for ongoing budget expenses and special projects. If you or your group are interested in more financial or donation information please visit our finances page.

Do you accept matching gifts from companies?

Yes, we are currently eligible for matching with companies such as Boing, Microsoft, Chateau Saint Michelle winery and others. We encourage you to reach out to your specific employer to find out if they already offer matching gift opportunities. If not, let us know if there’s any work on our end we can do to help you in setting up a matching program with your business or employer.

How much of my donation goes towards programming verse other areas like administration?

The distribution of funds is for 86% of funds get applied to programming, 6% to administration and 8% to fundraising. Please visit our finances page for more detailed information.

How can I learn more about sex slavery and human trafficking? (links to external resources)
Do the people you work with ever end up back in slavery?

In our experience an estimated 75% of women we work with end up staying out of the sex industry with a 25% rate of recidivism. Even with those who experience recidivism, an approximate 10% eventually end up leaving the sex industry for good.

Does Not Abandoned provide programs in the United States?

Not Abandoned has its headquarters in Seattle, WA. Since our launch we have been focused primarily in working outside of the United States. However, Not Abandoned has been involved in numerous trainings opportunities, awareness endeavors and coaching with several strategic groups. Beginning 2017, Not Abandoned will be expanding our work by launching programming in 5 different cities across U.S., with the goal of the programming being strategic and high quality trainings, outreach and transitional housing.

How many people has Not Abandoned helped?

On a yearly base Not Abandoned directly helps an average of over 300 trafficked women.

How long does your recovery program last?

Anywhere from 3 months to two years depending on the personal situation of those coming out of a trafficking scenario.

Do you have survivors on staff?

Yes, we do.

Do you only work with females or are your programs open to men and transgendered persons as well?

Not Abandoned is committed to work with both women and men caught in the sex industry. Our commitment is to not abandon those we they come in contact with no matter if they are one gender or the other. It is true most victims Not Abandoned works with are women, but a number of them have also been men, and transgendered persons. If you have personal experience working with transgendered or Thai ladyboy populations, we’d love to talk to you and learn more. Please email us at info@notabandoned.org.

How can I help?

You can in many ways! Participate in an outreach trip to one of our bases around the world where you will be able to directly reach out to trafficked victims. Donating financially to help the ongoing work of Not Abandoned. Become an advocate for this cause by sharing and educating others on the issue and how they can be involved. For more detailed information and opportunities for involvement, visit our volunteer page.

Can I volunteer in Thailand?

Yes, by participating on a REDLIGHT outreach team to Thailand, a specialized training/teaching team sharing specific skills of topics such as English, baking, computers, business, etc. or by volunteering as a longer-term intern. For more information, please visit our volunteer page and fill out an application today!

Do I need special training to volunteer with Not Abandoned?

No special training is required; we provide specific training in-house for every individual who travels with us as a volunteer to Thailand or one of the other bases we are developing around the world.

Can I host a Not Abandoned fundraiser?

Yes, we are always looking for those who would have the passion and heart to organize a fundraiser to support Not Abandoned’s work. Our commitment is to work with others whose heart and passion is to help raise the needed funds to financially support the efforts of the organization. Please visit our volunteer page for examples, event ideas and more detailed information.

How can my church be involved?

No Abandoned seeks the development of strategic partnership with churches whose vision and passion is to reach those who are trafficked. Churches can be involved by not only adopting this cause but to help engage their followers and constituents in practical ways serving and participating in short-term teams, donating financially, providing prayer support as well as promoting this cause among other churches they might be connected too. By visiting our volunteer page you’ll find more information on how your church and get engaged in this work through partnership.

How can my business be involved?

Getting businesses and their employees involved is vital in bringing practical solutions to those enslaved by the sex industry. Sex trafficking is a multi-billion dollar business and it takes positive businesses joining in to provide a holistic community cure to this social cancer. Business can provide training workshops, coaching and mentoring for startups and financial support in the form of microloans to victims who are starting up their own micro enterprises. If you’re interested in partnering with Not Abandoned from either home or abroad, read more on our volunteer page and reach out to a Not Abandoned staff member today.

Are there items I can collect and donate to help those in need in your program?

Yes, there is a continual need of items such as basic, over-the-counter medicine like Tylenol, multi-symptom cold medicines, sheets and towels for transition housing in Thailand, feminine products, and nice soaps and lotions. There is also need for laptops, materials for art classes, kitchen equipment for two different bakery classes, books for English classes and other smaller items for different trainings. Please watch our Not Abandoned Facebook feed for material requests or feel free to contact alexm@notabandoned.org any time for a list of current material needs.

What if I have an organization I think you should partner with?

Feel free at any time to help connect Not Abandoned with other organizations you might already have a relationship with. We are always open to network and connect for the purpose of developing partnerships with groups and individuals who are like-minded in vision and passion. You may email us or do a virtual connect at info@notabandoned.org.

What is REDLIGHT?

REDLIGHT is a short-term volunteer program that takes you to some of the world’s human trafficking hubs, such as Pattaya, Thailand for two weeks to help liberate girls from exploitation. You will not only learn more about sex trafficking but also create relationships with girls, boys, men and women trapped in the sex industry and introduce Not Abandoned’s practical programs and services to them, providing hope and a way out. You will also help connect them with our staff, transitional house and resources to find a new and safe job. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a real difference and significantly impact a life that so desperately needs help.

Is this work dangerous ... is a mafia bully going to kidnap me?

Pattaya is a safe city for tourists and you are not in danger as long as you follow our safety guidance covered during pre-outreach training. You will also travel in small teams so that you are not working alone. We are strategic in choosing neighborhoods in which we involve our volunteers for the purpose of outreach.

What is the intent of this outreach program?

The primary intent of a REDLIGHT outreach trip is very simple, we show up and we love. We do this by caring for sexually exploited individuals, offering empathy and practical help to girls and women, boys and men who have been trafficked. Our goal is to offer a way out of their injustice and oppressive life situation. We are often asked if this is a “mission trip.” While many people define a “mission” differently, we do want to be clear that our intent as a team is not to proselytize those we are working with. Because of the vast amount of trauma and emotional damage trafficked victims have endured, our mission during this trip is to reach-out with love, care, compassion, and the practical programming that Not Abandoned’s local staff is able to provide. We are careful not to communicate the message that they need to welcome a new faith in order to enter our help programs. However, you will build significant relationships with these women and you will eventually have an opportunity to share your personal faith journey and what this means to you. You will be coached in how to proceed in this area. We always welcome REDLIGHT volunteers to be open and authentic about their own faith journey as we believe that this journey is a necessary part of true holistic health and hope.

What is the cost to participate in REDLIGHT?

The cost is $2,100 plus airfare (approx. $3000 total). You can fund your own trip or raise funds to cover your personal costs. If you are fundraising, you are welcome to set up a volunteer account with us to collect tax-deductible funds on your behalf on our website. If interested, please contact us at redlight@notabandoned.org .

What is included in the program cost?

The $2,100 includes all ground transportation, meals, and accommodation and daily expenses for doing the outreach. This amount will also cover other project outreach costs while building relationships with victims of sex trafficking once onsite in Pattaya. Also included in this amount is a mini-training-conference at the front end of your trip and a special last day activity. (Shh! I can’t give you details, I don’t want to spoil the surprise!) In short, all of your expenses will be covered by this amount with the exception of that extra afternoon coffee and any souvenir shopping for your someone-special.

Is there a registration deadline?

We ask that you try and commit to these special outreach trips three month prior to the trip date so that we can make the appropriate arrangements such as hotel accommodations. You are more than welcome to email us at redlight@notabandoned.org for last minute participation requests though we cannot guarantee plausibility.

When is the payment due?

You’ll want to book your airfare immediately for the best travel rate or join the team booking schedule where the NA staff does all the booking of tickets. However, you may continue to save/fundraise up until a couple weeks before you leave.

How should I book my airfare?

The Not Abandoned staff coordinates the reservation and purchase of airline tickets. You are also very welcome to make your own travel arrangements if you prefer using miles/point or covering the expense out of pocket, or if you’re joining us from somewhere outside the greater Seattle area. We ask you coordinate with NA staff regarding departures and arrival times to ensure connections with the team in country and ground transportation.

Is there an international airport in Pattaya?

We fly into Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok (BKK), located just east of Bangkok. From there, driving time to Pattaya is approx. 1.5 hours. There is technically a Pattaya airport but it will not accommodate our necessary flights.

Where will we stay?

We stay at in the center of the city at the Sunbeam Hotel, a beautiful 4-star hotel located next to the city’s largest shopping mall, and near the beach and areas where we will do much of our outreach. The hotel offers a fitness center, swimming pool, wifi, a hairdryer, complimentary breakfast and for a fee... laundry service. Bottom-line, it is a safe, clean hotel in the middle of everything we need, while still keeping our budget in check. http://www.sunbeamhotel.net

What documents do I need to travel to Thailand?

You will need a passport, which is valid for at least six months prior to your visit to Thailand. For those with a U.S. passport, no visa is required for visits under 30 days. If you hold the passport of another country, please check your local embassy for visa regulations in regards to Thailand, or email us at redlight@notabandoned.org and we can further assist you.

I need to plan leave from work and family, what is the program duration?

The program runs 14 days including travel time. Departure times vary depending on airline schedules. If you’re unable to commit this length of time, we can work with you to shorten your trip at the back end if absolutely needed. Please contact us if you’d like to participate but duration is an issue.

What is the schedule and program format?

You will receive a more detailed agenda once arriving in country. However, the schedule will include four general phases:

  • Training and strong glimpse into the depth of the trafficking situation and how to effectively reach out to trafficked victims
  • Morning team meetings and daily outreach building relationships with exploited girls who work in the sex industry
  • Effectively introduce and connect victims to recovery programs
  • Trip end party with new friends your helping
  • Team celebration and reintegration training

The first 3 days will be spent in a mini-training conference with exposure trips around the city. During this time you will learn how to care for trafficked victims, culture observation and understanding, principals of trauma care, debriefing and general learning of Thai life so that you’re fully prepared for personal outreach. On these days, you can expect about two hours of personal time, in addition to team meals. You can also expect late nights, as we observe nightlife in full swing.

After this initial training period, we will continue to meet each morning to debrief on experiences from the previous day. You’ll manage your own outreach schedule within your assigned teams in the afternoon and evenings. We’ll kick off the early afternoon together as a team before heading out for the outreach.

At the end of the outreach period, we will invite all our new friends to attend a beautiful party/ meal in the hotel’s ballroom to reinforce the program, provide the opportunity to meet all Not Abandoned team members, provide you with an additional relationship building opportunity and most importantly... to show the girls how special they truly are and give them a place to blossom without judgment, pressure or expectations. At this time we give out personal gifts to our new friends.

We will end our time with some special team time of relaxation, souvenir shopping, cultural experiences and/or the beach. We will also have a time of trip debrief as a team and reintegration training before you return home.

Are the teams assigned?

You will be grouped into teams of two to four max including your translator to help bridge the language barrier at the beginning of the outreach.

How can I contact loved ones while abroad?

There is complimentary Wi-Fi at the hotel. Using the Internet, you can make video calls with Skype (free from computer to computer or you can buy $10 in Skype credit to call from your computer/smartphone to another cell phone or landline for under a dollar per call). If you have an iPhone, you can also text for free to other iPhone users while connected to Wi-Fi (if your text messages are blue, they are free). Most major phone carriers also offer international usage plans that you can add onto your account one month at a time. We’d suggest going into your carrier’s local storefront and discussing your travel plans/needs with them to know exactly what your options are.

Do I need to get any immunizations or take malaria medication?

A tetanus shot is strongly recommended. Any doctor’s office will provide this to you and it is covered by most insurance. We’ll be in a very urbanized part of Thailand; no other shots or medication will be needed, though this is a good time to make sure you are up to date on your regular Hep vaccination.

What if there is an emergency?

Not Abandoned will purchase travel insurance for every REDLIGHT participant. In the event of an emergency there is good medical coverage and modern hospitals for any medical support. If needed, you may be taken to a local high-quality hospital.

Is the food and water safe to eat and drink?

You can find anything from Starbucks to McDonalds, Indian food to Italian, and of course, delicious Thai dishes on every corner. However, we do ask that you only drink and brush your teeth with bottled water (we will supply you with plenty) and recommend that you avoid eating unpeeled fruits and vegetables that you haven’t washed yourself.

How do I get to and from the airport once in Thailand?

Not Abandoned will arrange pre-paid ground transportation from the airport to Pattaya when traveling with the rest of the outreach team; your driver will be waiting for you in the outdoor passenger pick-up area. However, if you are arriving or departing individually, Not Abandoned staff will reserve transportation for you in advance.

Do the women we meet during an outreach speak English?

Some do. Many do not. Be prepared to use your best charades and hand-motioning-skills from time to time. Please remember to speak slowly, articulate and use simple English—staying away from English colloquialisms and slang that do not translate literally. There will also be translators provided by Not Abandoned to assist you.

I’d love to learn a little Thai before I go. Any suggestions?

While not a requirement, it goes a LONG way to learn some basic Thai before your arrival, including hello, thank you, how are you, etc. If you own a smartphone, download the “Learn Thai” app and be sure to upgrade to the $4.99 version to allow access without Internet. This will not only give you key phrases but also allow you to hear the female or male pronunciation on the fly. A pocket-size travel dictionary will also come in handy.

Will I have a chance to meet the rest of team before we depart?

Yes, there will be a set number of meetings before everyone meets together in Thailand. Face to face meetings for those living in the Seattle area will be held and can be joined via Skype for those out of state.

When will I find out who my roommate will be?

Unless you specified your own room on your application, you will receive your roommate assignment upon arrival at the hotel. If you have a roommate request or concern, be sure to mention this on your program application.

What is the weather like?

Thailand jokingly has three seasons: Hot (November – February), Hotter (March – May) and Rainy Hot (June - October).

What should I wear?

Pattaya is a tourist resort town and although you will be seen as a customer we do want to be respectful of the culture, wear comfortable lose clothes for hot humid weather. With respect to the Thai culture, we request that you keep your hemlines and necklines conservative. Prior to the trip, more specific instructions will be provided regarding what and what not to take. You’ll also want to bring a light sweater, as the air conditioning indoors can be quite chilly.

Are there any important personal items I should pack?

Be sure to bring a universal adapter for personal appliances. (Cell phones can plug directly into the wall as well as laptops.) You’ll also want to carry a small notebook and pen to take notes during our training and team meeting times. We also encourage participants to bring your personal journal to record your thoughts and experiences. Also bringing family photos is a nice way to connect with the girls you meet during outreach. These can either be carried around in printed form or on your smart phone. Keep in mind when choosing photos to share that you do not want to flaunt your comparative affluence. On this same note, please leave your more expensive jewelry safely at home.

Should I bring any gifts for the girls I meet or for the party?

The girls you establish relationships with are likely to give you a small gift of remembrance and gratitude. It’s nice to be prepared with a little gift in return—something symbolic of your relationship, of change or a little token from America. You can expect to create relationships with an average of 4-10 girls. (Examples: simple bracelets, lip balm, key chain from your home city, etc)

We will also be giving away small gift bags and door prizes at our post-outreach party and we need your help! Please involve your friends to gather small items for gift bags and prizes. These should be fun inexpensive items that would brighten your new friend’s day (Think teenage and tweener stocking stuffers!)

How much should I bring for personal spending?

The minimalist can get by with as little as $100 USD. If you’re a shopper, you’ll want to bring more, as there are various markets and handicrafts shops available. The average person will do fine with $200 USD to pay for impromptu coffees, Thai foot massages, and souvenirs. Be sure to bring crisp large denomination bills for the best exchange rate, as well as bills that are no older than 10 years old. Wrinkled or older bills are often rejected.

Who do I contact if I have further questions?

You can e-mail us at our Not Abandoned e-mail address: redlight@notabandoned.org