Thursday, February 14, 2013

The I CARE Foundation: Acting Wtih Love and Compassion


It is not a coincidence that the I CARE Foundation logo is a majestic heart covered in beautiful colors of young childrens' hand prints.  The symbol represents the LOVE we value, respect, and cherish that is found in our relationships as well as the loving bond between parents and their children.

Indeed, LOVE has the potential to change everything.

In thinking of LOVE and the work of the I CARE Foundation, my mind wanders to the opening words of Chasing The Cyclone.  There readers will see the words:

Love is everything it is cracked up to be
It is really worth fighting for
Being brave for
Risking everything for

And there is no question I do believe in these words.  I hope in your own special way, you do too.

So today is Valentine's Day. It is a very special day for me because I have the most incredible partner in the world in Maria. And hopefully she knows that there is never a day that goes by that I ever take her for granted. I think she knows . . . because I tell her everyday how important she is to me and how blessed I am to have her in my life.

But today is a very special day outside of my relationship with Maria.  You see, the reason why the I CARE Foundation exists today is because a group of us believe that LOVE is really worth fighting for. Being brave for.  Risking everything for. And that love I refer to is the love a parent holds for their child, and the love a child holds for their parent.  But that's not all of it.  In addition, we pay tribute to the love that exists between each individual, children included, and this magical thing called life.

Sadly, sometimes in life there are those who seek to steal the magic away from others. 

And that too is worth fighting for.

I believe that.

So today, on behalf of all of us at the I CARE Foundation, we wish all of you a Happy Valentine's Day filled with the magic of life.

And today to start my own day, I received a telephone call from a young girl age 12 named Paula along with her parents.  Paula is one of the young girls the I CARE Foundation recently rescued from the horrors of human sex trafficking. 

Her words to me were this:  "Mr. Peter. I love you and wanted to be the first person to wish you a Happy Valentine's Day." Her words were soon followed by such kind words by her parents. For the first time in weeks I felt a true sense of happiness.  Clearly, their storms were subsiding.

LOVE.  So much more than a word.

Some of you may know that I have been a little frozen after the recent set of events that led to the rescue of these young children. The trauma they faced and the journey they will remain on makes it very difficult to celebrate anything.

However, today the words of this young girl, followed by those of her mother and father changed that.  Funny how LOVE is so powerful that it can make a heart burst in joy!

And today, I celebrate these young children who are now FREE!

And today I celebrate all the children we have helped bring home as well as those who we have helped protect from abduction.

And today I celebrate the friendships I have created and hold dear.

And I today, like every day, I celebrate the love I have for Maria and my beautiful son, Tyler.

But most of all, today, in my own way, I affirm my own commitment to allow the love I hold in my heart to keep me moving forward in the way I have in my role with the I CARE Foundation.

Wishing all of you a Happy Valentine's Day!

Peter Thomas Senese

* * * * *

For those of you who have not seen the post I made on February 13th, 2013 concerning the children the I CARE Foundation helped bring home, please take the time to read this below:

Over the past two months the I CARE Foundation has played a heavy role in assisting in the planned and successful rescue of 15 young girls who were previously kidnapped and enslaved into the world of the child sex trade in Central America.  The abducted children were all kidnapped from their homes in various countries in Central America and ringled together into one horrible, disgusting working brothel, where they were literally imprisoned as monstrous men and women (yes both men and women) would have their sexual way with them.  Mind you - these victims were children, many who were not yet teenagers.

Today they are free, reunited with their families, and receiving the medical and psychological care they need. Their respective journeys will be unique to their own circumstances; however, the trauma they shared will bind them forever.  So too, I hope, will the love and care they are receiving, that I pray, will allow them to learn how to trust once again.

The physical health issues and damage done is severe for some of these child victims. It is insane what was done. However, the necessary teams are well underway, providing each with the care they need.

And if you're wondering about the monsters that did what they did to these innocent children, rest assured they will not be victimizing and preying on any young children anytime soon.  Ongoing investigations by the proper trusted authorities continue to work to close down the ancillary abduction rings that prey on children.

The complexities of the journey from enslaved prisoner to becoming a free child are remarkable for each of these children.  Their roads ahead of them will be long and challenging; however, like I said, there are teams in place who are working closely with each child and their now reunited families so that the necessary healing takes place so that perhaps one day, magic will be restored.

I know many of us are committed to this, and I know this commitment is one that I will hold for the rest of my life.

There is no question WHY we must all rise up and fight against predator kidnappers, no matter if that abductor is a parental abductor or stranger abductor.  I remind you that hundreds of children are murdered each year by their parents in the United States alone each year and that felicide is a real threat, particularly amongst parental child abductors.

There is no question WHY we must not permit the child sex trade to exist anywhere in the world. We must renounce places such as Thailand, China, Costa Rica, Columbia, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, and other impoverished countries, including those in Africa, who turn a blind-eye toward the child sex trade and allow monsters to walk amongst us.

There is no question WHY we must stand and do what is necessary in our own way to protect the innocence of a child, regardless if that child is targeted for abduction and trafficking or if that child sees the world in a different way due, say to being on the autism spectrum.  The point being, children should never know abuse.

Several months ago, I announced the production of a film on international child abduction titled '150,000 Internationally Kidnapped Children', which I have been working on for some time now. The remarkable recovery of these young children will be shared in our film, in hope that the message shared will further push world governments into understanding that each nation really needs to have international abduction prevention laws and policies that make it extremely difficult for children to be illegally removed from one nation to another.  Of course there is a whole agenda of policy shifts we will address. 

So . . . our work continues. 

I would like to thank all of our friends who kept and keep these children and their families in their prayers.  They all have a long road ahead of them and surely will need your continued prayer. 

But step by step, the lives of these children and their families are being put back together, and we're doing whatever is necessary to help bring back the idea that life really can be magical.

In fact, yesterday I had an opportunity to speak with several of the young children.

What did I say?

I reminded each of them that life is magical and that they have to have fun. And that I am so proud of each of them, and of course, I will see them again real soon . . . amongst other things.

I know they know the love I have for them, and am blessed to know that these children have embraced my caring.  Most of all, I am comforted in knowing that they have embraced the care giving extended to them by professionals who are able to attend to their issues.

* * *

Every once in a while I reflect upon my journey into the world of abduction.  At the pinnacle of my thoughts is the promise I made to one day help other children and their families targeted or taken during the time when I was Chasing The Cyclone.

The I CARE Foundation has directly come to the assistance of over 100 families over the past 14 months.  We have helped bring home a significant number of abducted children while preventing the abduction of many more children.  We have helped create and lobby for new laws and policies that will protect children from abduction, and have taken our agendas onto the world stage.  We have built an attorney network -educating as many professionals and parents - on abduction prevention and reunification.  And we have a very big agenda for 2013 that I am confident will make a big impact in the fight to protect children. 

I am very proud of our organization and our members.  But most of all, I am very proud of the parents I have come to know and care deeply about who have fought for their children.  Truth is, I have many friends in my life, but the parents who I have come to know over the past 7 years have become my family, and their children my adopted nieces and nephews, many who I speak to often.

Last night, I had the chance to speak to my dear friend Amanda's two young daughters, who I absolutely love. 

Several years ago, when Amanda first contacted me, her daughters were at great risk of abduction to Saudi Arabia, and asked for assistance in ensuring that her children would not be kidnapped to a nation that women had no rights.  Well, we did what we had to do, and the children are safe . . . and I intend to ensure that they are always safe.

And over the years, I have spent some wonderful time with Amanda and her two daughters, including time at Disney World.

So last night, as I often do, I called Amanda right before the girls went to bed to find out about their day and to wish them a good night. 

The last words they said to me before I hung up the phone was, "Good Night, Peter Pan."

It is a reminder that children should never be left in Neverland.