During this season of gratitude, we want to highlight our first employment partner, Agape International Missions (AIM), based in Cambodia. We are grateful for AIM’s diligent and consistent work in the fight against human trafficking through prevention, rescue, restoration and reintegration (employment) efforts. Through our 12-year partnership, we have worked together to employ hundreds of young women, providing hope for a healthy and independent future, free from the threat of trafficking. As a social venture brand, Noble Venture also provides funding and resources to support the work of the team.
In this blog, we took a moment to chat with AIM CEO Clayton Butler to share more about the work of AIM.
To learn more or donate to AIM, click here.
Be sure to check out the story behind our work together, check out the CNN Freedom Project: Every Day in Cambodia by clicking here.
A Chat with AIM CEO, Clayton Butler
- What is the mission of AIM? When and why was AIM founded?
AIM was founded in 2005 with a mission to end trafficking. We seek to rescue, restore, and reintegrate survivors of trafficking through Christ’s love and the Gospel. Additionally, we prevent sex trafficking by protecting, equipping and empowering vulnerable and exploited communities, reducing demand and equipping the local church to do the same worldwide.
- What attracted you to the work of AIM and what is your role as the new CEO?
For me, at AIM, it was to make a tangible difference. There are a lot of orgs that help conceptually (legal work, etc.). But this was actually rescuing real life people and help set them free. There’s not a better use of my time.
My role is to try to make sure we stay focused on “the main thing.” That is, we continue to be open to moving to other areas of the world where trafficking is most prevalent to transform them through the love of Christ. We continue to be on traffickers’ heels - working to rescue girls and pursue justice. And we continue to show that survivors can be radically transformed and have amazing lives. There is hope for them.
- Tell us a little more about AIM's programs.
Rescue is the start of the journey to freedom. Working primarily with sex trafficking cases, our team has also investigated and prosecuted cases of labor trafficking, baby trafficking, and forced marriage. AIM SWAT was founded in 2014 and gives AIM the unique opportunity to work directly with local police to fight trafficking. Our legal team, victim advocates, and social workers work with survivors from the moment of rescue to ensure their voice is heard and their traffickers are brought to justice.
Healing is necessary for survivors to thrive. At AIM’s Restoration and Transitional Homes, women and girls find spiritual, emotional, and sometimes physical healing through the love of Christ. Our staff walk with each girl through their journey to healing, independence, and freedom.
Empowering survivors means giving them the tools and resources to thrive in their lives of freedom. By providing job opportunities and training to survivors and those vulnerable to trafficking, the risk of being pulled into a life of exploitation is mitigated and the cycle can be broken! AIM’s Employment Center gives women safe and sustainable employment that sets them up for success as they pursue their dreams - at AIM or elsewhere.
Protecting vulnerable communities and confronting demand is the only way trafficking will be defeated for good. AIM works in the community to share the Gospel and transform lives! Through education at the AIM School, humanitarian aid at Rahab’s House Church, and more, lives are being changed by the relentless love of Christ.
- How many lives have been impacted by AIM?
- More than 1,600 women and girls have been rescued by AIM SWAT
- AIM SWAT has assisted local police in the arrest of over 500 traffickers
- AIM’s Employment Center has employed and empowered more than 200 women
- More than 900 women and girls have experienced healing at AIM’s Restoration and Transitional Homes
- Thousands have been protected through AIM’s School, Rahab’s House Church, The Lord’s Gym, and more!
- At Noble Venture, we believe reintegration is a big part of a survivor's journey to freedom. What does it mean to survivors when they are provided job opportunities/Why are jobs so important?
Safe and sustainable employment empowers and protects survivors and those at-risk of trafficking. Traffickers often exploit financial vulnerabilities. When women are given the opportunity to be trained in a skill and given a stable job, the risk of being trafficked (or trafficked again) decreases significantly. AIM’s Employment Center isn’t just a job. We provide training and women are encouraged to explore and pursue their dreams, whether or not it’s with AIM.
- How does AIM support and promote the employees that might be different than a typical job in their community (benefits, work environment, counseling, training, etc.)?
AIM’s Employment Center (AEC) provides women with a liveable wage (above the national average), meals, childcare, education, spiritual mentorship and development, and more. Social workers are available to every employee and work with them to ensure they are safe and thriving!
- How many people have benefited from AIM's reintegration efforts since the program was founded?
More than 200 women have been employed at AIM’s Employment Center. Over 1,000 women have been reintegrated either to safe families or into safe employment!
- What part of the employment program do you feel has been the most challenging?
Really, the most challenging part is finding the balance between sustainability (in the form of profit and efficiency) and ministry (serving the people we are actually here for). The main point of AEC is to create safe and sustainable employment for women and girls at-risk of trafficking. If it’s not profitable, it really isn’t sustainable. At the same time, we know the women who work for us may need extra support. Ultimately, we want them to be safe and to be transformed by God.
- What part do you feel has been the most inspiring?
When you see a young women transform and change over time, it’s a really special process. At the beginning, they come into our facilities as someone we are ministering to and serving, but over time, they grow in confidence and freedom. Eventually you’re just working together and living life together. And we just get to be a part of their lives.
- Anything else you'd like to add?
3Strands/Noble Ventures came in at a pivotal time when AIM needed to provide jobs and we didn’t know where they would come from. The work 3Strands/Noble Venture has provided has made it possible for hundreds of young women to have safe and sustainable employment!
Thank you Clayton and team!