SIM takes on a role in Anti-Trafficking.
Sarah Scott-Webb remembers clearly where the passion began. It was in her mid-teens; Band Aid and Live Aid concerts and famine in Ethiopia were dominating the news.
“I felt a burning sense that THIS IS NOT FAIR. I wanted to make it fair. I was a kid on a sheep farm in the depths of the South Island of New Zealand — how far away can you get? Yet my ‘justice’ button was really pushed.”
Trained as a music teacher, in her 30s Sarah went to Cambodia for a year, teaching at Hope International School. At the time she had no real understanding of the scope of human trafficking, but ended up spending her downtime on Tuesdays at a local refuge for women and kids rescued from brothels, doing music therapy with children so traumatised they couldn’t speak.
“I found that children as young as three and four were being sold for sex. Every Tuesday night I would sit and cry my eyes out,” Sarah says. “I felt that God was calling me to work in stopping the trade.” When she returned after her year in Asia she went and studied for a Masters degree in International Relations at Deakin University in Melbourne, unpacking the facts and processes involved in genocide and trafficking.
Now, after spending most of the past 12 years in the non-profit anti-trafficking sector, Sarah has a new role with SIM International as a Global Anti-Trafficking and Exploitation Advisor. Working closely with her colleague Karine Woldhuis (based in Ecuador) Sarah’s task over the next 18 months is to develop a human trafficking awareness & prevention programme to train SIM’s 4000 staff around the world, so they are equipped to help their local churches recognise and respond to human trafficking occurring in their communities.
She and Karine get together for weekly sessions by internet, but when they met in person for the first time a month ago, the key word that seemed to keep cropping up was collaboration. “There are so many different groups working in this space now, we are really keen to work with other mission organisations.” They have begun the process of developing such relationships, so that everyone in the field brings their strengths, and they’ve found people eager to collaborate.
Meanwhile in SIM, a Global Assembly will be held in South Africa in February, and Sarah says she and Karine will be “hitting the ground running” by then, working closely with SIM’s European co-ordinators to respond to the migrant/refugee situation in Italy, Romania, Hungary and the Ukraine as a first step. Sarah also hopes to be available for training to Kiwi churches and other groups who are interested.
Sarah lives in Christchurch with her husband Kieran, daughter Tessa and part-time foster daughter Lily, and is a worship leader on the creative team at The Well church.