Content sponsored by The God’s Child ITEMP
Bismarck, ND-native Patrick Atkinson never imagined that someday he would lead one of America’s widest-reaching anti-human trafficking programs.
Then again, when, in 2001, he was held at gunpoint in an African village while rural women and children were forced into cattle trucks and taken away to be sold in modern slave markets, he also didn’t think he would be allowed to live.
He was, and from that terrifying night, the ‘Institute for Trafficked, Exploited, & Missing Persons’ (ITEMP.org) was born as a United States-based international human trafficking prevention and rescue program.
Human Trafficking is, quite simply, the buying and selling of a person for financial gain. The traffickers see their victim as a thing… a commodity… no more than a sheep or a cow, and not as someone’s son or daughter, brother or sister, mother or father.
The marketplace for human trafficking victims is three-fold; for labor, sexual services, and body parts, i.e. illegal adoptions or organ harvesting. It is a quickly growing market, and the Department of State estimates there are 42,000,000 adults and children working in forced labor worldwide, and 10,000,000 children forced into child prostitution.
Over the years, ITEMP volunteers have intervened to prevent, detect, investigate, and rescue human trafficking victims in 38 countries at no cost to the victim’s family, who are almost always impoverished. Atkinson gives 150+ academic and community human trafficking prevention talks each year, working those into his 75-hour work weeks.
“We’ll do whatever it takes to keep our children safe,” Atkinson says. “When one goes missing, we’ll use every resource possible to return that child home.”
“No child should be bought and sold. Ever,” he says. “We just need to think, ‘There but for the grace of God goes my daughter, my son, my mother,’ and that gives us all the motivation we need to keep going.”
ITEMP’s $3 million-dollar annual budget is raised primarily through small contributions, church and community collections, and CFC contributions.
ITEMP is CFC # 96341