While serving overseas in the Central Intelligence Agency, Matt Osborne got a firsthand look at the horrors of human trafficking.
It drove him, eventually, to join Operation Underground Railroad – or O.U.R. – a global nonprofit aimed at aiding the rescue of individuals from trafficking. And for the second consecutive year, O.U.R. held a fundraiser in Dallas, this year raising more than $150,000.
More than 300 people attended the event at the Dallas Marriott City Center earlier this year, and Osborne said he hopes next year’s event brings even more residents eager to learn how they can help in saving lives.
“We’ve got such great people in Texas,” said Osborne, who was born in California but moved to Preston Hollow when he was 3. “We had over 300 people show up on a Thursday night to learn about a really tough topic in child exploitation, and we want people to show up again in 2019 and bring even more people. Everyone needs to hear about this. These are actual child victims.”
Osborne was recruited to join O.U.R. by his college friend, Tim Ballard, who founded the nonprofit and is now the chief executive officer. Ballard knew Osborne, with his myriads of overseas contacts and experience in the CIA, would be a strong asset to the anti-child trafficking cause.
An added bonus: Osborne was able to move back to Texas and work out of his home in Prosper.
“I got a really good look at the horrors of child exploitation while working for the government,” Osborne said. “With O.U.R., most of our work started out overseas, because that’s where the need was greatest. But we quickly realized people were asking us what we were doing here at home, in the United States. So, we started a domestic program.”
In four years of existence, O.U.R. has rescued more than 1,000 victims and aided in the arrests of more than 450 traffickers worldwide, the agency reports. In 2017 alone, 25 victims were rescued in Mexico, 32 in Haiti, 15 in Guatemala and, domestically, 17 in Washington.
“Our motto is ‘break the chain,’ because there’s this terrible cycle were children become trapped in these exploitation circles, and then if they can’t escape, they may actually become recruiters later in life for the traffickers,” he said. “We want to start a new chain where those kids are able to escape and help stop trafficking.”