During our years in Nepal (1998 – 2006) and while I was working with a HIV/AIDS program, I noticed that most of the HIV+ patients we had were girls from the remote villages of Nepal who had been sold and rescued from the brothels of India. Approximately 10,000 to 15,000 Nepali women and girls are trafficked to India annually, while 7,500 children are trafficked domestically for commercial sexual exploitation (U.S. State Dept “Trafficking in Persons Report,” June 2009). This prompted me to explore more about human trafficking not only in Nepal but also in other parts of Asia. Our aim is to focus more on the “preventive” aspect of human trafficking.

On July 24-26, 2013, an anti-human trafficking workshop was held during the annual Wesleyan church conference in Kathmandu, Nepal. Fifty pastors and lay leaders from our village churches in this predominantly Hindu nation participated in the event. In a simple pre-test, it was clear that more than half were generally misinformed about the gravity of the human trafficking situation. However, it was encouraging to note that 84 percent indicated that the Church has a unique role and responsibility in caring for those who are at risk and those who are rescued from human trafficking.

God’s perspective on the value of women and girls were emphasized through group work and interaction. Learning from one another on how to prevent trafficking and making their villages a safer place for everyone was a key outcome of the workshop.

After the workshop, the seven JESUS film teams asked if they could also show a video clip about human trafficking to the villages where they go to make people more aware of the dangers of the crime. Before we left, we found a documentary film from a notable organization on anti-human trafficking in Nepal in the Nepali language! Each team will have a copy of the film to be shown. Through God’s great wisdom, he led us to these tremendous opportunities to reach villages where the actual human trafficking is happening.

During our last furlough, Penfield Wesleyan Church in Penfield, N.Y., introduced us to the Dress A Girl ministry, where the women make pillowcase dresses for girls and attach a visible label in front. The idea is to give at least one decent dress to a vulnerable girl so that if a would-be predator sees the girl wearing the dress, he would think that this girl is being watched over by an organization. It adds a layer of protection over the girl. This has also opened opportunities for an increasing awareness of the realities of human trafficking both locally and globally as churches pray over these dresses before sending them off, mostly through work teams.

First Wesleyan Church in Bartlesville, Okla., Hayward Wesleyan Church in Hayward, Wis., and Celebrate Wesleyan Church in Albuquerque, N. M., are now involved in making these dresses. After the workshop, we gave away pillowcase dresses to the participants as gifts and to open up conversations about human trafficking among vulnerable families.

We are grateful for John and Shanda Croft, the JESUS film director and his wife, who helped during the workshop and for the participation of the JESUS film teams in Nepal.

Linda Caringal serves as a missionary doctor. Her husband Romy Caringal is Asia Area director with Global Partners.