Thank you. Because you know about me, you know the things I had to go through. I felt supported by IJM, my mom and my grandparents.
–Julian

Julian* and Mariano* were 12- and 14-year-old brothers living in the Dominican Republic. They spent their days attending school in the mornings, then would rush back home for a quick afternoon snack before heading to the Cancha—a cement field close by where they met their friends to play.

They never knew that someone was watching them from afar.

A local buhonero—someone who sold CDs and cheap trinkets in the streets—rented a room close by the Cancha, and came over to befriend Julian, Mariano and their friends. He made them laugh and built their trust. Then, one by one, he lured each boy back to his room with gifts and money to sexually abuse and exploit them.

The shame and fear were so strong, the brothers couldn’t work up the courage to report it. So Julian and Mariano suffered in silence as the abuse continued—for six months.

Then one day, a neighborhood boy came forward and told Julian and Mariano’s mother everything he knew, which she shared with the closest anti-trafficking department. That’s when the local prosecutor contacted IJM.

IJM took on their case and walked them through each step to freedom. The buhonero was given a 10-year sentence—the maximum sentence a person can receive for commercial sexual exploitation in the Dominican Republic.

And this work couldn’t be done without your gifts.

You can ensure children like Julian and Mariano are never walking this road alone—from initial investigation through immediate aftercare. By sending rescue and care for their long-term recovery needs, you’re helping us stop vulnerable children and women from being trafficked for sex every year and restoring them to lives in freedom.

“Thank you. Because you know about me, you know the things I had to go through. I felt supported by IJM, my mom and my grandparents,” Julian said.

 

* A pseudonym

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