183 – Restoration, Partnership, and Prevention in Uganda

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Kelsey Galaway, the founder of Willow International, shares her strategic plan that is implemented in Uganda with Dr. Sandie Morgan and Dave Stachowiak. She emphasizes restoration, partnership, and prevention as interrelated strategies that are necessary to work together in order to create a holistic program to combat human trafficking.


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Dave: [00:00:00] You’re listening to the Ending Human Trafficking podcast. This is episode number 183, Restoration Partnership and Prevention in Uganda.

Production Credits: [00:00:10] Produced by Innovative Learning, maximizing human potential.

Dave: [00:00:29] Welcome to the Ending Human Trafficking podcast. My name is Dave Stachowiak.

Sandie: [00:00:35] And my name is Sandie Morgan.

Dave: [00:00:37] And this is the show where we empower you to study the issues, be a voice, and make a difference in ending human trafficking. Sandie, I am so, impressed with how much work you have done over the years and how much work the Global Center for Women and Justice has done over the years to build so, many partnerships around the world. And today’s conversation is yet another example of wonderful partnerships that are working together with us to really address this issue.

Sandie: [00:01:07] Well I’m very excited to introduce to our show Kelsey Galaway, founder and executive director of Willow International. Kelsey, welcome.

Kelsey: [00:01:19] Thank you.

Sandie: [00:01:20] so, let’s just dig right in. When I think of the word Willow, I think of one of those really big overarching trees that where the leaves reach all the way to the ground. And I imagine that there is probably some sense of connection with that image in the selection of the name of this organization. So, will you tell us about Willow International, what it is? What does it do?

Kelsey: [00:01:51] I’d love to! And our name comes from one of the Psalms and it talks about when the Israelites were going into captivity or slavery that they hung their harp on the willow tree. And I read a commentary about that and it said that part of the Israelite’s identity is that they were worshippers and when they went into slavery they didn’t want their captures to take advantage, to exploit their identities. So, they put their instruments on the willow tree for safekeeping so, that when they were released from slavery they could walk into that identity, pick up their instruments, and worship again. And so, that’s part of the core of who we are at Willow, is that we are a safe haven and a protector so, that when people are released from horrible situations of exploitation, they can walk into their God-given identity again.

Sandie: [00:02:45] Well how did you end up in Uganda? I mean you’re a California girl, right?

Kelsey: [00:02:51] I am yeah. I grew up in Orange County and my whole life I wanted to travel to Africa. Just one of the places since I was a kid that I wanted to go to. And I went on a mission trip when I was 17 with Rockharbor Church in Orange County. And it was quite the contrast from what I knew growing up and I loved every bit of it. But it also completely challenged my worldview.

Sandie: [00:03:19] Challenged your worldview. I need to know more about what that means.

Kelsey: [00:03:24] Oh that’s a whole other podcast in itself.

Sandie: [00:03:26] Let’s just take a three-minute detour because I think we do have like these really established worldviews where we think we know what we’re talking about.

Kelsey: [00:03:38] When I went, my first trip was to Namibia, and I saw a developing nation. And what I found was so, much different than what I expected. There was so, much joy, so, much resiliency, so, much community, and social support. It was so, different from the old commercials we used to see of the starving child with wives all over them and sad eyes. There was so, much joy and at the same time, there was also a lot of exploitation, a lot of poverty, and a lot of diseases that broke my heart. And when I came back to Orange County as a 17-year old I didn’t know how to put all of that together. Like OK, I wanted to be a first-grade teacher. Yeah, that doesn’t, I don’t feel like that’s what I want to do anymore after I’ve seen all of this. I just wanted to learn more. I wanted to dive into what nonprofit work looks like on the ground and how I could make a difference. And so, I started exploring that.

Sandie: [00:04:43] Well and you’ve developed an amazing strategic plan for Willow. How did you prepare to develop your strategic plan first? And then secondly let’s talk about your strategic plan.

Kelsey: [00:04:58] First of all, I spent three years on the ground in Uganda as country director for a nonprofit that did aftercare for victims of human trafficking. So, that was step one, was living it out, learning it, and being there on the ground. So, a lot of exposure to the issue. When I had an opportunity to start Willow, I knew that I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. That there are incredible organizations and incredible leaders out there who have been doing this for 15, 20 years. And so, step one in that was talking to anybody who would talk to me. So, I spent hours and hours on skype phone call at crazy hours talking to people in Cambodia, and Thailand, and China, and Kenya and anybody who would share their experience with me and taking it from there. So, learning what they had done and then talking to our team in Uganda and saying hey how would this work in our context talking to our Ugandan national staff. And saying these are the programs that are out there, this is what other people are doing, how do we want to do this at Willow? What do we want to take in? What do we want to leave out? And so, we worked on that strategic plan together.

Sandie: [00:06:13] Okay so, you mentioned Cambodia, and you and I have mutual friends there. And I’ve learned a lot from Helen Sworn who has been very instrumental in developing coalition models and the Freedom Collaborative, we’ll put links to that. So, I can kind of imagine how you collected all of this experiential wisdom. And I applaud you for that because so, many times we sort of start out with our plan before we collect all of the wisdom from people who have already had an engagement in these issues.

Kelsey: [00:06:50] Thank you. Yes. Helen was very instrumental in developing our program. I traveled out to one of their coalition member meetings in Phnom Penh and got to see their work on the ground, learned about their research projects, learned about their prevention programs, and loved the coalition that they had built there. And thought that there were so, many learnings from that week in Cambodia that I believed would directly apply to our work in Uganda. And Helen has continued she’s come on Willow’s Advisory Board and she provides strategic support. She’s come to Uganda twice and done leadership training and just a ton of work with our team on the ground, she’s been instrumental in helping Willow become what it is today.

Sandie: [00:07:38] so, what is it today? Tell us what it is.

Kelsey: [00:07:42] What Willow is today was really birthed out of my three years living in Uganda working for an aftercare organization. I strongly believe that we have to do aftercare. We have to work with governments and international organizations who are doing the work, helping these victims get out of situations of abuse and exploitation, and bring them into programs where they can heal and recover and walk into their God-given identity. However, what kept me up at night when I was living and working in Uganda was the fact that this cycle was continuing. When girls and boys and women were being released from these situations, there wasn’t anything being done to stop it from continuing. And that was driving me nuts. I knew that I had to do something about that. And so, all of this travel and Skype calls, and talking to everyone who would talk to me led me to what I believe is part of our secret sauce that’s been very effective in Uganda. Our three main programs restoration, partnership, and prevention. And I believe that those three key program areas work together to create a really effective program for restoring the lives of those who have been affected by trafficking, preventing trafficking, and working with the government and institutions there to create systemic change that will be lasting and sustainable as we try to fight the 40.3 million number that we all use when we talk about the number of people victimized by trafficking.

Sandie: [00:09:24] so, I picked up a few key words in your response just now. Sustainable was one of them and strategic partnerships. So, when I looked at the diagram with these three things restoration, partnership, and prevention they weren’t isolated categories. They weren’t three different columns. They’re like a Venn diagram. They’re like overlapping each other and there are all kinds of different intersections. Why is that strategic to visualize your strategic plan as a Venn diagram?

Kelsey: [00:10:03] None of those things, in our experience, can work in isolation to create a holistic program to combat trafficking. If we just do a restoration that’s not getting at the root causes, that’s not bringing people together with expertise in different fields. It’s just doing the restoration. If we just do prevention, then we’re not stopping these cycles of abuse that continue if survivors do not receive restorative care. And I believe very strongly that none of this is possible without partnerships. We have to work together, we have to leverage expertise in a variety of fields. I’m not just talking about nonprofit partners, we’re talking about government partners, academic institutions, international agencies we all have to work together and that way it is sustainable. If our organization were to go into Uganda and bust down doors and conduct raids as an outside organization that could be creating a lot of problems for the country of Uganda in their efforts to combat trafficking. Here’s an example, we work with Samaritan’s Purse and a local organization called Platform for Labor Action. And the three of us go in and we train police officers and immigration officers in conjunction with the Uganda National Anti-Trafficking Task Force. So, our four agencies come together, we train the frontline responders and then those frontline responders are able to identify victims and refer them into aftercare programs. So, one of the aftercare programs they may join is a Willow Samaritan’s Purse joint project where they receive holistic care and we work to get them to a place of healing and reintegration back into the community. We may bring in other partners to provide legal aid services, partners to provide vocational training, partners to provide employment opportunities. So, all of these things have to work together. If we’re not bringing in the legal partners, then we’re not going to see justice and that trafficker or that perpetrator is going to continue victimizing more people.

Sandie: [00:12:16] so, one of my philosophies is I don’t want to go anywhere to do training unless I’m embedded in a local team. So, I’ll take my expertise and be on a panel. I went to Zambia, but there were people in the room who were going to be there when I left. And it is so, important, especially when you’re working with law enforcement and the judicial system if they don’t have on the ground partners they can learn the principles at a 30,000-foot level. But then who do they actually rely on and who do they trust when they’re actually in the situation recovering a victim and knowing there’s going to be somebody there when I get to the restoration house.

Kelsey: [00:13:03] I agree 100 percent because it is a long-term partnership and we have partners and criminal investigations department and the Department of Public Prosecutions who are calling us with hey we have this victim referred to us, we need help with X Y and Z and then we’re able to leverage our partnerships. One of our partners is the Human Trafficking Institute. And so, we work very closely with them. If we’re asked to do a training with the justices of Uganda we bring in experts, we bring in people who are going to be on the ground for 5, 10, 15 years so, that it becomes a long-term partnership. So, that when one of these organizations were to leave, it would only be at a time where the government or that specific department is able to take that on and own it.

Sandie: [00:13:53] Let’s put a link to the Human Trafficking Institute in our show notes here. And I’ll remind listeners that one of the founders well both founders were on a podcast a year or so, ago. So, we’ll put a link to that there as well. So, you bring in the Human Trafficking Institute trainers because they bring that professional judicial experience and you embed that in your Willow program. So, you don’t have to have your own staff.

Kelsey: [00:14:27] Exactly. And it’s more than even just embedding it in Willow’s program. It becomes a true partnership. It becomes something that we do together. And they are an incredible organization to work with, very collaborative. We’ve seen them come to Uganda and build really strong relationships that many organizations have been unable to do.

Sandie: [00:14:50] so, we’re talking about how partnership bleeds over into the aftercare, into the policy, into the judicial relationships that are so, critical to actually stop this. We need to prosecute the cases, we need to see the law actually enforced. So, give me some examples of how that partnership then also leverages your third circle, prevention.

Kelsey: [00:15:17] so, here’s a great example of that. In March we worked with Pepperdine Law School Global Justice Programs and the Human Trafficking Institute to host a training for 150 judges in Uganda. And the Human Trafficking Institute brought their expertise in the legal side. They conducted amazing training. They brought a judge from Belize and a judge from the United States who shared about trauma-informed courtrooms and how to be a trauma-informed Judge. And all of this was an awesome technical experience. But truthfully what really brought this out was that Willow was involved and we had a panel of social workers from our team and they got up and told about their experience in the court with victims of trafficking. And the crowd was very riled up by what they heard which was that 14-year-old girls were called to testify in open court. They were laughed at, they were accused of lying by the judge, that cases were not tried in the correct court, and they were not tried under the correct laws. So, when we work together we bring in the technical experts and then we bring in grassroots organizations who are on the ground standing side by side with the victim in court. You bring that education full circle. And because of this, we had judges reaching out to us asking for more education. We had judges calling for an investigation of the judge who had conducted this court saying this is unacceptable, we won’t stand for this, we’re going to do something about this. And another great takeaway was one of the Supreme Court justices said that she’d like to continue this training and she wanted the Trafficking Institute and Willow to come to the annual judiciary conference and do a half day training. So, that leads to prevention. We want to make sure that when our victims are going to court first of all their rights are protected, they’re treated well, they’re not re-traumatized as they go through the legal process. And that takes collaboration with the government and takes education on the law and how victims should be protected. And then what that does is it also says that when the victims testifying we want to make sure that we have the best opportunity of conviction and of a successful prosecution. And we are seeing that through these conferences and through our training for seeing that the investigating officers are learning what to look for as they do an investigation. The public prosecutors are learning about the law and learning what things they need to bring out in a case to convince the judge that this was indeed trafficking by definition by the law. And we just had a conviction last week where a case of child marriage, the judge ruled aggravated trafficking which has a minimum sentence of 20 years.

Sandie: [00:18:19] Wow.

Kelsey: [00:18:20] That is prevention through deterrence that trafficker is now going to jail. And it means that as we start promoting this through the media that yes someone was convicted of trafficking hopefully we’re going to see this build up so, that people are afraid to commit the crime of trafficking because they believe that if they do it there’s a greater likelihood that they will be caught and prosecuted.

Sandie: [00:18:46] I was really struck when I went to your web page and read your mission and what you believe in, your values. And in prevention, I’m used to people having a list of here are the seven signs of human trafficking and warning potential victims the more vulnerable people don’t fall victim to this. But your definition of prevention is, “we believe progress toward a safe and just society is through partnership, prosecution, and policy.” so, you’re looking at prevention by building blocks in a society that protect the more vulnerable. And actually, we see that justice is more than ending poverty and educational prevention, in that respect. So, tell me how most nonprofit leaders don’t go down that road. So, how did you end up in that particular frame of reference?

Kelsey: [00:19:53] Well, I can’t take a lot of credit for it. It truthfully is because of the people around me who have been in the anti-trafficking movement for years who have shared their learnings and their expertise and as well as my experience on the ground. I believe that if we want to prevent trafficking in the capital P prevention it has to start with system reform. It’s great to educate people, it’s great to have warning signs, that’s more identification than prevention. In our mind, prevention means looking at the underlying root causes, looking at the systems that are not working, and then working to change that. And so, that building a relationship with key leaders at the government getting our group are a coalition of nonprofits and other stakeholders together and saying hey these five policies aren’t working, here’s our recommendations and we’re going to advocate, we’re going to work with you to make sure that these policies change but then they’re also put in to practice. So, you can’t just look at policies and change policies. We know that there are great policies out there, but unless they’re being implemented for the most part it’s useless when you’re working at the grassroots level. And so, if you work through a partnership you have the bigger voice to say hey this is a great policy, let’s implement it, let’s work together, let’s make sure that this is actually getting down to the people it was meant to impact.

Sandie: [00:21:23] And that is such an important piece. And I noticed in your strategic plan that those people that it will impact you’ve made it a priority that communities must be aware of their rights and have access to that information. And to that end, you actually conducted field research and that makes my little professor’s heart go pit-pat. So, tell me about the KAP field research study in the communities.

Kelsey: [00:21:53] We worked with a Yale Law School student. She is an incredible young woman and we are connected to her through our partner at Pepperdine Law School. And KAP Research is knowledge, attitudes, and practices. So, we’ve said if we’re going to get into prevention, first of all, we have to know what is the knowledge around trafficking? What are the attitudes toward it? And then what do people do with that knowledge and those attitudes? And what we did was go into three diverse districts, so, we went to an urban district, a rural district, and a border district. So, border district on the Yukon to Kenyan border. And we surveyed individuals as well as key stakeholder so, community social workers, pastors, police officers, immigration officers. And we asked them what do you know about this? Do you know what trafficking is? Do they know that it’s illegal? And then ask them what are your attitudes towards it? Do you think that people who are trafficked chose that? Do you think that it’s because a lot of attitudes were that they were greedy? They Were money hungry they just wanted to go abroad? And then what do you do if you see a trafficking victim or if someone you know you believe is potentially being trafficked? Do you trust the police? Would you report it to the police would you report back to a community social worker? Without that knowledge, it would be impossible for us to go in and educate a community. We wouldn’t know where to start. We wouldn’t know what the baseline knowledge is. It also helps us say hey okay this community does not trust the police. And so, what are ways that we can one build trust with the police there and two give them a way to report this crime that they feel safe and comfortable.

Sandie: [00:23:46] so, KAP, knowledge, attitudes, and practice?

Kelsey: [00:23:52] Yes.

Sandie: [00:23:52] Yeah. Okay, so, this built a really great model where we don’t just bring in our ready-made program, but we actually find out we do an assessment first so, we know what this community needs to know in order to understand their rights and to make sure all those building blocks of protection are in place in that society. Is that something you’re doing repeatedly?

Kelsey: [00:24:18] We’re currently looking for more funding writing grants so, that we can launch a community education program built upon this research. So, we’ve been taking this to certain communities through grants and partnerships that we have. But we really want to expand it and do full-fledged programs in those very district areas and then take this study back every three to five years and assess. Has there been progress? That will be our baseline and then we’ll be able to say hey is this effective. Is our program working? And one of the cool things that this research brought out, our assumption was that the way to do education in these communities was to educate the community leaders to empower them so, that they could go disperse this information within their community. This is also based off of a model that Chad Di Hollingsworth organization does in Cambodia. And we had people saying to us exactly those words bring this information here, we want to educate our community we want to protect our children, we want to protect our neighborhoods. Exactly what they were asking for. So, that’s what we’re planning on doing.

Sandie: [00:25:35] That’s great. So, our three-pronged strategy is restoration, partnership, and prevention. And the idea that success in one part of this is necessary to fuel the other parts of this is why you’re using a Venn diagram as a way of presenting this. So, as you move forward then what do you expect in the next year?

Kelsey: [00:26:05] What I expect and what I’ve learned to expect is that when you start conducting training of police, immigration, community leaders they’re going to see an increase in the number of victims identified because people know what to look for. They’re saying oh yeah, we had police officers say to us, we had so, many of these cases but I didn’t know what it was. I had no idea I had no frame of reference. So, we’ve already seen that happening this year where the number of victims identified is increasing. The other reason for that is our partnerships, we’re branching out into all over the world. Uganda is a source country so, Ugandans are trafficked all over the world. As our presence grow, we start getting requests from partners all over saying hey we’ve started identifying victims, can we send them back to your restoration program. That’s what we’re preparing for right now is to be able to provide restorative care through Willow and through our network of partners so, that we can care for the number of victims being identified and referred into care. We’re also preparing to ramp up our prevention programs and our legal aid program because as we have more victims coming into care we also need to make sure that their provider victim advocacy and legal aid. So, that we can make sure that we’re getting successful convictions and that the victims’ rights are being protected when they are called to court to testify.

Sandie: [00:27:35] I can totally imagine the momentum that is building with each segment of this from the partnership, prevention, and of course you’re going to have more victims so, now you have to go back to making sure those restorative programs are in place. And Kelsey this has been a fabulous conversation and I am looking forward to following this model and seeing in a year where you are. And staying in touch, we’re so, glad you’re an Orange County girl right here near Vanguard University. So, thank you so, much for coming on our show.

Kelsey: [00:28:15] Thank you, Sandie. And thank you for all that you’re doing and for your leadership in this movement. It’s been incredible to learn from you and to partner with you in this.

Sandie: [00:28:24] I love it. That makes me part of your partnership Venn diagram, right?

Kelsey: [00:28:29] Yes, it is! You’re in the Willow family.

Sandie: [00:28:31] All right.

Dave: [00:28:32] Indeed. You know partnerships one of the things we talk about so, often Sandie. And the conversation today with Kelsey just reminds me of that and you know it is Kelsey mentioned you know you’ve done so, much work Sandie for all of us to really help us understand the importance of things like a partnership and our work. And we’re inviting you also to take that first step. I hope you’ll hop online and download a copy of Sandie’s book The Five Things You Must Know, A QuickStart guide to ending human trafficking. It will give you a good foundation for the five critical things that Sandie’s identified in her work that will help you to join the fight against trafficking and get access to that by going to the endinghumantrafficking.org. You can also find out more about past episodes, the human trafficking certificate program, and many of the other resources available through the Global Center for Women and Justice. And as always if there’s a comment or question that’s come up for you from today’s conversation, I hope you’ll either visit that Web site endinghumantrafficking.org, or feel free to drop us a message at feedback@endinghumantrafficking.org. We’ll be back again in two weeks for our next conversation.

Sandie: [00:29:46] That’s right. Thanks, Dave.

Dave: [00:29:47] Take care, everyone.

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