The work of Rapha International was born through the vision of native Cambodian Christian leaders.
These Cambodian leaders had repeatedly witnessed girls disappearing from their villages to be sold and exploited. Rapha International co-founder Joe Garman had been working alongside these leaders for years, but this horrific reality was brought to his attention firsthand as he witnessed the near trafficking of a young woman who had been sold by her parents. Luckily, the Cambodian leaders were able to intercede for and stop the traffickers from taking the young woman. But when Joe heard about the hundreds and thousands of children who were being sold into slavery in Cambodia and surrounding countries, it broke his heart.
These Cambodian leaders had the desire and the will to combat for these children, but needed the structure, programming and funding to do this work.
Joe returned to the US and shared the issue and the vision with his daughter, Stephanie Garman Freed, and together they began to pull in experts and partners with a heart to combat child slavery.
In 2003, Rapha International began their safe house program for children who had been rescued from slavery and sexual exploitation. After more than a decade of growth, Rapha International is now an international safe house program which has won the favor of the governments in the countries in which it works. It is an organization which practices excellence in the standards of caring for children who have been rescued from these traumatic situations.
The Rapha International model is to find native people who are qualified and passionate about combating the issues of child slavery and sexual exploitation in their own countries, and equipping them to combat on behalf of these children.
Rapha is a Hebrew word which means “healing.” And healing is the heartbeat of Rapha International.