Global Strategic Operatives, GSO, was co-founded by Deb O’Hara-Rusckowski, a Delegate and Special Advisor on human trafficking to the Ambassador for the Sovereign Order of Malta Mission to the United Nations, after a high-level meeting of leaders and stakeholders was held at the UN in November 2018. It was decided to focus on training healthcare professionals across the globe on how to identify a victim who is being trafficked (including all forms of trafficking: sex trafficking, labor trafficking, and organ harvesting) and to take appropriate action. The rationale for choosing to focus on healthcare is based on studies and data which show that 88% of all survivors sought out medical care while being trafficked. If not trained, the victims fall through the cracks of the healthcare system and do not receive the help that is critically needed and remain in the ‘life” until help is offered. GSO also helps healthcare sites develop their own internal human trafficking policy and protocols. The UN Pilot Study will collect all policies from the US & International sites trained to create and propose a common “universal” human trafficking policy for healthcare providers to the WHO, which currently does not exist today.
Now that we have had major success in training over 450,000 healthcare providers and ancillary staff, we are moving forward with an additional mission: providing safe homes for survivors. AVODAH Collective, a non-profit in Colorado that re-purposes Church properties has become the perfect collaborator and partner for us! We realize the more the healthcare systems identify victims, the greater the need for accurate placement for healing to help them on their journey to becoming survivors. GSO has established a good relationship with law enforcement and Homeland Security to assist in placement of victims. We, together with AVODAH, and the AFN, Academy of Forensic Nursing, completed training & hiring of 24 Nigerian orthodox Catholic Sisters in October 2021 to provide a loving, nurturing presence for the residents in every safe house. This also helps economically when most staff turnover is within a 4 – 12-month period---these Sisters have made a 3-5 year commitment to provide continuity of care! All staff will be trained and taught Trauma Informed Care, with a Victim-centered approach.
An Order of Malta funded, and supported, new safe house is in Lowell, MA. It is currently undergoing renovations with expected opening day to be April 2022. Four Sisters will be living with 11 victim residents.
As we acquire more ‘houses’ (ideally with 12-20 beds per home) we will diversify, meaning we will have separate homes for various kinds of victims—women, pregnant women, girls, men, boys—each who has a unique set of needs and resources.
We believe this to be the most comprehensive solution to reach the goal of eradication of human trafficking. By strengthening these pillars of prevention, training to identify, then placement for healing ---and adding the “special recipe” of the Sisters---the victims will have an excellent chance of starting over and become an active, contributing member of society again.