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HISTORY

The Phoenix Alliance was founded by Ethan and Kimberly Wheeler after spending three years fighting child sex trafficking in northern Thailand. They watched as many survivors graduated or left aftercare programs, only to find themselves back in the jaws of exploitation within a few weeks or months. This cycle highlighted the need for more comprehensive aftercare, often involving long-term help even after a survivor achieved independence. The family-model aftercare concept was born, working on a model similar to adoption. As with our adopted and bio children, we help them grow and navigate struggles on their way to independence. And just as with our own kids, we remain as a family regardless of our independence.

The Wheelers believed that this approach worked best in Thailand using local leaders who could better understand and navigate cultural challenges. Likewise, as American citizens, they felt called to return to the States to fight trafficking in their own backyard. Partnerships began in Thailand, first in Chiang Mai and later in Chiang Rai, working with strong, passionate community leaders. The Wheelers, meanwhile, had returned to the USA to formalize the creation of The Phoenix Alliance and begin work Stateside.

Originally from Boise, Idaho, the Wheelers saw great strength in the local anti-trafficking community and sought a place with a greater unmet need. The search included all of the highest-rated trafficking states but eventually settled on North Carolina as a midway point on the East Coast between New York and Florida.

After moving the family cross-country, they eventually settled in quiet Rockingham County, where the cost of living would be low without sacrificing proximity to trafficking hotspots. Identifying troubled teens as an extreme-risk group, they began working in Juvenile Justice in 2020. Sadly, the research proved correct and the majority of kids they encounter in Juvenile Detention Centers are indeed victims of sexual exploitation. Many fit the literal, textbook legal definition of child sex trafficking victims.

TPA then expanded to Northeast Indiana through a relationship with one of the most effective freedom fighters we’ve ever known - Shaana Robrock. Shaana hit the ground running in Indiana and rapidly established TPA as the go-to resource for schools, educators, and professionals in law enforcement and the judicial system. Lives have been saved and changed forever through her efforts, and we are honored to have her in the Alliance. In 2024, we expect Indiana to be our fastest-growing operation.

Each part of the Alliance plays a pivotal role in the success of the team. And what an incredibly diverse global team it is! Much of our funding and support still comes from Idaho. Our prevention resources are thriving in Indiana. Kids in Juvenile Justice are finding hope in Carolina. And survivors are finding strength in Thailand through the survivor-led Arukah Ministry. Together we are seeing lives changed, freedom found, and the vulnerable protected.

 

God created us for community, that the lost might be found and restored to Him through the work of His people, hands and feet working together as one body. To know Him, and make Him known. To “...uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed” (Psalm 82:3).

Thank you to all who continue to do your part to help reach the lost, hurting, and vulnerable among us.

“Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed.” (Isaiah 1:17)

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