About Trafficking Resource Connection

Christa Foster Crawford is an expert and consultant with more than a decade of experience working to end human trafficking and sexual exploitation in Thailand and the Greater Mekong Subregion. Her experience includes work at both the grassroots and policy level, having worked for the United Nations, the International Justice Mission and Crisis Care Training International. She co-founded The Garden of Hope and pioneered its vocational training and social enterprise program before moving into a full-time consulting role with Trafficking Resource Connection in 2010. Her clients have included Tearfund, the United Nations and Wildlife Storytellers. Christa's services include expert advice and referrals, development and sharing of resources, and teaching and training. A passionate advocate, Christa speaks internationally on issues of human trafficking, sexual abuse and exploitation, and children at risk. She is an adjunct assistant professor at Fuller Theological Seminary where she teaches "Ministry to Trafficked and Sexually Exploited Children." She also teaches "Exclusion and Exploitation in the Greater Mekong Subregion" for GoED. A professional writer and editor, Christa has authored and co-edited two books: Combatting Human Trafficking in Asia: A Resource Guide to International and Regional Legal Instruments, Political Commitments and Recommended Practices (United Nations) and Finding Our Way through the Traffick: Exploring the Complexities of a Christian Response to Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking (co-edited with Glenn Miles, Gundelina Vasquez and Tania DoCarmo, forthcoming). Her articles and book chapters have been published in the Cardozo Journal of Law and Gender, Understanding God's Heart for Children, Family and Faith in Asia, and the Journal of Asian Mission, among others. She also edits children-at-risk books and training curriculum for Phyllis Kilbourn's Crisis Care Training International. Christa is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Claremont McKenna College. She is currently pursing a PhD in Holistic Child Development. Christa is based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where she has lived with her family since 2001. She is a native of Southern California.

What Do Downtown Abbey, Adventures in Odyssey, and Healing Abuse and Exploitation Have in Common?

I am privileged to be part of this cutting-edge project for bringing healing to survivors of abuse and exploitation. I am also excited to begin the process of producing it in Thailand and Asia.

Listen in as an experienced caregiver (voiced by Cathy Sara – Mrs. Drake from Downtown Abbey) guides listeners in best practices for aftercare using the power of story. The script was written by Kathy Buchanan from Adventures in Odyssey, based on core content that I developed. 

Holding Esther: “New Christian radio drama trains caregivers to help abused children”

“You can’t stay here … he’ll be back any minute.”

“He’ll kill you, he’ll kill us both!”

“I’m not going to let this keep happening. Hurry, hurry! He’s coming!”

The excerpt, presented in rich, British-African accents, is from Holding Esther, an audio drama written to help train caregivers of children traumatized by physical or sexual abuse. It’s the debut project of Rivercross, Inc., which announced last week it is coming under the umbrella of TransWorld Radio to broadcast the program internationally.

“I went after this subject matter because … I wanted to go after the worst,” said Susan Vonolszewski, president of Rivercross and Holding Esther’s executive producer.

The drama tells the story of two orphaned sisters,12-year-old Esther and 10-year-old Sarah, who face betrayal and sexual abuse in their own family. They escape, only to find themselves suffering more hardship on the streets. Eventually, the girls find a safe house where caregivers help them on the road to emotional and spiritual healing.

The story models proven methods of care that national workers in Africa and elsewhere can imitate to help open children’s hearts to the gospel….Vonolszewski pulled together a team of experts in trauma care, child development, human trafficking, and other areas to consult on the project. She chose radio drama because studies suggest that, in an oral culture, stories can spur more change than pamphlets or other written materials.

Kathy Buchanan from Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey developed the script and Cathy Sara, who played Mrs. Drake on Downton Abbey, is the featured actress. Director Todd Busteed has worked on other faith-themed projects, including Amazing Grace, Narnia, and Left Behind. John Campbell, a composer for The Walt Disney Co., wrote the original music score.

When she started the project, Vonolszewski didn’t realize caregivers often struggle with loving the children they deal with daily. Some have unresolved abuse or trauma in their own backgrounds, and most have little formal education or training…. Vonolszewski heard of one orphanage in which workers knew girls were being systematically raped in the bathroom but never told the director because the subject was taboo.

Holding Esther can help bring these issues into the open and, more importantly, help national workers view caregiving as something more than a job, Vonolszewski said. One early showing got a very positive response from workers because they “considered the caregiver the hero,” Vonolszewski said. “I didn’t think we were going to accomplish that in three episodes. But that’s what we ended up accomplishing; the caregivers realized they needed to love the children.”

To reach a wider audience, Rivercross joined forces with TransWorld Radio (TWR), the most far-reaching Christian broadcasting network in the world. It reaches 160 countries in more than 230 languages. TWR has already translated the production into several different languages, including African-French, Swahili, Spanish, and Ugandan. [We have just started working on the process of translating it into Thai and other languages in the region.]

Listeners can access the first three episodes of Holding Esther online and over satellite phones. Writing and production for the remaining episodes are in the works but waiting for more funding. Although the program can’t make abused children whole, Vonolszewski hopes it will help point them and their caregivers to the One who can.

[Excerpted from “New Christian radio drama trains caregivers to help abused children” World Magazine, January 27, 2015]

More Than Just An “Ounce” of Prevention

Prevention better than Cure

If “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” why do we spend so many pounds and dollars and hours of effort on rescue and rehabilitation while prevention remains only a small part of the global anti-trafficking response?

Without addressing the root causes of trafficking and sexual exploitation (prevention) we can never fully stop the problem.

Yes, we can rescue individual victims, but unless we prevent the supply and demand there will always be countless other victims to take their place.

Yes, we can bring healing to survivors, but how much better for the person and more effective in terms of programming to prevent the trauma and damage from happening at all.

We all recognize the need for prevention, but we don’t always know where to begin. Here are three starting principles for best practice in prevention:

  • Prevention must be focused. Our efforts must be directed at the actual root causes that lead to trafficking in a specific context. This means using tools like problem trees and social mapping to understand the most compelling push and pull factors in a given community. We must then use that information to design prevention strategies that directly address those vulnerabilities at the individual, family, community and societal levels on both the supply side and the demand side.
  • Prevention must be effective. While it is harder to measure how many people were prevented than how many people were rescued, we must ensure that our prevention efforts have measurable objectives and that we are continually monitoring effectiveness and making adjustments as needed. We must also ensure that measures taken in the name of prevention do not have unintended negative consequences, e.g. putting at-risk children in institutional care (a short-term fix that can have long-term adverse consequences including increased vulnerability) instead of building safer and more successful families and communities (a longer-term fix that can lead to lasting positive change).
  • Prevention must be rights-based. A senior government official in a major source country said “We are preventing trafficking by making sure that no females under 25 are allowed to travel alone.” Never mind that this policy only makes people more vulnerable to traffickers, it also undermines their fundamental rights. By contrast, we must ensure that our prevention strategies help protect people without compromising their rights. As well, we must not only focus on protecting the rights holders (potential victims), we must also hold accountable the duty bearers (those in families, communities, governments, etc. who are responsible for protecting their rights). In plain English, prevention projects must not just focus on protecting the vulnerable, they must also stop people in power from causing or allowing harm.

What principles and practices have worked best for you in the area of prevention?

What challenges have you faced?

How have you been able to convince donors and other supporters of the importance of prevention?

What resources have most been helpful for you as you design and implement a prevention response?

I look forward to hearing your ideas for effective prevention.

In the meantime, check out the list of prevention tools and resources that I hope will help empower your own prevention response.

Thankful that people from 67 countries on every continent visited this site in 2014. Look forward to serving you in 2015 as well. Happy New Year!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,600 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 27 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Holding Esther – Caregiver Training for Oral Learners

This is another amazing resource! Holding Esther provides world-class training for caregivers of survivors of sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking. http://rivercrossorg.org/holding-esther/

Holding Esther Graphic

Like the PricelessCube, Holding Esther instills important information in a way that is accessible to oral learners.

Unlike most training resources — even ones that are developed for the community level — this one is not written, but it was specifically developed for oral learners and is delivered entirely in story-form through a series of professional “radio” stories.

I was asked to help develop this resource because of my expertise in the field. I tried to distill all of the information I had ever learned about excellence in aftercare — from Hands that Heal‘s and CCTI‘s curricula and other leading books/trainings, from the content of my 10-week graduate-level course, and from a decade of practical experience — into a condensed explanation of topics that all caregivers needed to know. It was a monumental task!

That detailed core content outline was then transformed into a script by a professional scriptwriter from Focus on the Family. While I trusted her expertise as a scriptwriter I was skeptical of how she could possibly communicate all of the essential information that I had given her in a 50+ page document in eight short segments (roughly 10 minutes each).

I was blown away when I heard the recorded episodes! Not only were they professionally acted with high production value (as expected) but I could not believe how many of the topics in my comprehensive core content outline were communicated indirectly yet clearly — and most importantly, effectively — to caregivers from oral backgrounds.

The project is still in development and testing stages, but check out the website for a preview. I am excited to see how God will use these creative, high-quality resources developed by Holding Esther/Rivercross, Priceless Cube and others to bring freedom!




P.S. I wouldn’t say that I’m a “renowned” expert – I just saw that on their website :-)

Priceless Cube – Great Prevention Resource!

I LOVE this resource for preventing human trafficking! http://www.pricelesscube.com/

Priceless Cube Graphic

It hits on all of the complex themes and factors that we cover in my 10-week graduate-level course in a simple, easy to use, story-telling cube that can be used in any culture and with participants of any language or educational level.

Be sure to check out the video to see how it works in action: http://vimeo.com/77054369

Stopping the Traffick: Hot off the Press!


How do we even begin addressing such an important – and yet overwhelming – task?

If you are a practitioner striving to assist victims or a faith-based organization wondering how to get involved you may be wrestling with questions like: 

How should we go about working with exploited people? 

Where should we focus our response? 

How do we deal with the challenges? 

Stopping the Traffick CoverThis cutting-edge book brings together practical advice and strategic insight from more than 40 global experts and experienced practitioners who thoughtfully explore how best to answer these questions and more. 

Stopping the Traffick is for everyone who wants to go beyond merely knowing that something must be done to a deeper understanding of how we can more effectively bring an end to exploitation.

Stopping the Traffick: A Christian Response to Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking, Glenn Miles and Christa Foster Crawford, eds. (Regnum Books, 2014)

Paperback version available in the UK from Regnum and in the US from Wipf and Stock. eBook version available from Amazon, Kindle and eBook Store.