Wyoming’s Worthy: Casper Man Works To End Human Trafficking with ‘Vision Beyond Borders’
There currently an estimated 20.9 million people trapped in some form of slavery, 71% of them are women and children. This is a staggering number, it is downright heartbreaking…and overwhelming to even think about how we can help stop this crime.
One man, whose home base is located in Casper, Wyoming has made it his mission to put an end to human trafficking. Three years ago Patrick Klein made Casper the home of Vision Beyond Borders, a charity he began 20 years ago. When asked why he chose Wyoming Klein said, “I moved to Casper when I was 10 years old. I’ve lived all over the world and this is still my favorite place. The wide-open spaces, the mountains and the fact that people genuinely care about each other here, that is why I came back to stay.”
Klein began doing missionary work when he was 21. and felt called to focus on ending the horrors of sex trafficking when he saw the devastating impact it had on women and children all over the world. “It can be overwhelming when you first are exposed to this crime. Toddlers being sold to grown men for their pleasure, women kidnapped, locked in rooms, and abused in every way imaginable for weeks on end until their hope is completely gone.” Klein paused for a moment here and then took a deep breath and continued. “I think if you just start by doing one thing, one small thing, like bringing new clothing to brothel for the women and children enslaved there…you start chipping away at this huge problem. Other people see what you are doing and that one small thing turns into a mission to change the world.”
Over the years Vision Beyond Borders (VBB) has helped thousands of women and children out of sex trafficking. Their mission is not just about rescuing the women and children and removing them from brothels. It’s about helping them regain their hope and teaching them how to support themselves and their children as they move forward. VBB has established safe houses and half way houses all over the world in places like Nepal, India, Laos/Burma, Cuba and Romania. In these homes women are educated, taught how to care for themselves and a home, and given valuable skills that will lead to consistent employment.
VBB is also on a mission to prevent girls from being enslaved in the first place. When children age out of overseas orphanages they are put on the streets with no skills and less than $50 to their name. This makes them ripe for sex trafficking. The halfway houses open their doors to these orphans too.
Which brings us back to Wyoming.
VBB uses their Casper warehouses to collect and store clothing, sanitary items, medical supplies, school supplies, blankets, and shoes that are then sorted through and packaged. When VBB has enough items to fill an entire shipping container they send it to various organizations across the world. Orphanages, safe houses and refuge camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Thailand and Burma have all received these containers. VBB is currently working on filling their 12th container which may possibly go to Turkey.
Volunteers across the state of Wyoming contribute to the items that fill these containers and come by every Thursday to sort through the boxes and bags. “This is another example of one small act snowballing into something more. I could not do any of this without these people helping. We have one woman that gathers items in Gillette and drives down monthly. Another woman, on a whim, bought several boxes of soap from Walmart and gave them to us. A moment of thought from her, a small amount of her time and money is going to impact people across the world. It’s not just about the items, it’s the fact that these people are reminded that they are of value, that someone believes that they are worth their time and money…it gives them some hope back, and that is vital.”
Klein also goes on overseas missions throughout the year, and they are open to anyone that wants to accompany him. During our interview I was able to chat with a few of VBB’s volunteers that have traveled on missions with Klein.
The stories they told were impactful and tear inducing…and regrettably for the safety of the women and children in these war-torn countries, their stories must still remain unprinted.
Klein earnestly emphasized that this is why he encourages anyone who is able to go on a mission to go. “Because of politics and military terror these people’s stories cannot be shared. Entire villages have been burned down because someone talked. The only way to truly see how these people live is to visit their countries and walk and talk with them.” Everyone agreed that traveling to these villages gave them a new understanding. “Often missionaries have the attitude that if people just think and act like we do in America they will be successful in life. When missionaries are living for days and even weeks on end with these families they begin to see the beauty of these cultures, and have compassion and respect for them. When the locals see that the people of VBB have this love for them they being to look at themselves with new eyes, and often positive changes led by the native people start to occur within the communities.”
In the end, Klein summed up why he has devoted his life to Vision Beyond Borders with this statement.
“We hear so much negative all the time, and it can lead to a feeling of helplessness. I am humbled daily when I see how my simple acts of kindness have grown. I could have never dreamed when I began Vision Beyond Borders, what it would turn into. I can confidently say we have helped thousands of people. If you just pause for a moment, and think of how that will continue to grow…it’s easy to see that the world is being changed for the better through one small act of kindness at time.”