Project Karma and Yayasan Project Karma Indonesia
Project Karma is on a mission to save the lives of some of the most at risk children in Southeast Asia. Led by founder Glen Hulley, the team at Project Karma are committed to putting an end to child sexual exploitation, and rebuilding lives for the survivors of the horrific child sex slave trade.
Glen won the silver medal at the Australian Karate Federation (AKF) National Championships in Hobart in August 2013, which was after a fateful trip to South East Asia. He took that trip due to injury from the Victorian State Championships which is where he suffered 4 broken ribs and could not train with the Victorian State Team for the National Championships. When Glen returned from that holiday in South East Asia, he only had 2 weeks to prepare for the Nationals, in which he ended up breaking more ribs in the final and could not train on the Australian Team for the WKF World Championships in Jakarta in 2014. Glen never made it there as he retired from competition and began working for NGO’s in South East Asia very shortly after, which lead to him living in Jakarta for a period of time running CSE projects in multiple countries. It was in December 2014 that he returned to Australia and set about establishing Project Karma and creating their Sentinel Model. Glen also has 13 years under his belt with the Victoria Police, performing covert and detective operational duties.
Once home in Australia, he began the process of registering Project Karma as a charitable organisation and developing the Sentinel Model, a program designed to rescue children from sexual exploitation, sexual abuse and human trafficking. His mission is to break the cycle of sexual abuse in village communities, trafficking and sex exploitation/commercialisation by working in partnership with local law enforcement agencies, government departments and community groups to investigate reports of these crimes, remove victims from danger, bring perpetrators to justice and provide ongoing support services to assist with rehabilitation and the welfare for survivors. This model also provides education programs in local schools and villages to affect long-term cultural change in remote communities.
He sold everything to fund the initiative, and together with local teams of trained investigators, lawyers, child psychologists, social workers and volunteers , he works to combat the sexual exploitation of children throughout Southeast Asia.
Project Karma is now a registered charity in Australia and Indonesia, with plans to expand full time operations to 27 locations spread over 11 countries across South East Asia. With estimates that the human trafficking 'industry' in SE Asia is worth up to 36 billion US dollars, they are waging a battle against an immense problem. Child trafficking comes in many forms, ranging from small time syndicates running begging and pick-pocketing teams, to forced child labour, and most disturbingly, prostitution. It is rife in Southeast Asia due to widespread poverty and lack of basic needs such as clean water, adequate food and shelter, healthcare and education. It is a desperate act by desperate people, who are easy targets for predators and organised crime networks. In Indonesia, Lombok, Sumba, Sumbawa and Flores, are known trouble-spots. Glen says that particular attention needs to be paid at times of civil and political unrest, or following natural disasters throughout SE Asia, when the already vulnerable are easily preyed upon. He says that predators target relief and refugee crisis centres, as children are without family or guardians to protect them. It is an unthinkably cruel act of predation that is distressingly all too common.
The project is currently working with authorities to investigate orphanages in Bali, as they became aware that the orphanage tourism trade has become a powerful money-earner. Glen says that in fact many of the children found in orphanages are not orphans in the true sense, but are given up by their families or sold as a way of making money for the family. While Glen acknowledges that there are some amazing charities working with orphans and children at risk, he cautions that people should thoroughly research any child organisation or orphanages before making contributions or donations.
Through their work, they have found that the most powerful tools they have to fight the battle with, are strong community allies. They have worked hard to build relationships with the immigration department, government and local law enforcement officials, and do their best to assist investigations by providing information that can lead to conviction through the proper legal channels. They work closely with local authorities, and recognise the hugely important job that they do in apprehending and bringing traffickers to justice. It's a collaborative and sensitive approach that has seen lives saved and children rescued from abject horror and suffering.
Project Karma’s role is to act as a bridge between the community and the police, and they receive many tips about child exploitation from their intelligence network, and they often work with the banjar, BIMAS and pecalang for further investigation in order for matters to be reported to the correct law enforcement agency. Glen says that the banjar play a vital role in protecting the children in their community, as often they are the most trusted guardian available to a child. Many of these children come from homes where physical and sexual abuse is a normalised, daily reality, leaving them without a safe person to turn to for help. The banjar are crucially able to provide a safe and confidential first step to getting these children help.
Once children are removed from harm, Project Karma provides long-term rehabilitation and welfare for them. There are currently nine locally managed child crisis centres in Bali where children are placed, assessed, counselled and rehabilitated, however the system is in its infancy and resources for most of these centres are non-existent, so Project Karma are working with the local Government authorities to build capacity into this locally driven initiative in Bali.
If their home is safe, they are returned to their families and attend outpatient services to assist them in their recovery. Where that is not an option, children are placed into safe houses, foster care or an authorised orphanage, where they can continue with the rehabilitation program and resume, or sometimes commence school education for the first time.
The local schools and village authorities also run programs created by Project Karma, such as the education and awareness programs. They are trained by Project Karma’s team to provide the skills to recognise when a child might be at risk, what they should do if they believe a child is a victim, what to expect once they report it and what should be done to support the child. They also teach children in
schools about these crimes and how to protect themselves - not an easy task in a country that does not allow sex education in its mainstream education curriculum.
Their aim is to create an environment where children and their families feel protected, giving them a space to talk about their experiences and to ask for help. They also offer education about how to stay safe and keep their communities free from, and on the lookout for predators.
Project Karma is working hard to give a voice to the most vulnerable people so that they may stand up to their abusers, and expose the human toll of child trafficking and sex slavery in SE Asia. Their good work has been internationally recognised, and they consult with police and NGO’s from all over the globe, training them in skills that could save a life, and hopefully help to bring an end to sex slavery. The suffering that so many children are forced to endure is unthinkable to most tourists and holiday-makers enjoying the beauty of the Island of the Gods.
Unfortunately though, there are travellers to the region here to prey upon the vulnerabilities of communities in crisis. It is unacceptable. But we can all help to put an end to it and fight the sex slave trade. If you have any information that could help Project Karma, please get in touch with them or your local banjar or authorities. It could save an innocent life. All reports or suspicions can be made via email to: email@example.com
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