Rich Thompson is the Creative Director of Cadence, based in Sydney Australia.
Cadence is a creative agency for good, serving not-for-profit, corporate and faith-based organisations in telling their story through branding, social media, web design and video production, alongside a thoughtful, defined marketing strategy.
IJM has been a client of our creative agency, Cadence, since 2016.
That was the year I first learnt about OSEC – the Online Sexual Exploitation of Children.
We were given a brief that talked about this rapidly growing crime – one of the fastest growing crimes in our world. I can still very vividly remember the moment the penny dropped for me, when I realised that right then – as I was reading the brief – children in countries like the Philippines were being sexually abused online by men in countries like Australia – my country.
A fire grew in me, as I know it has in many others who have stepped into this fight.
I believe OSEC is one of the greatest evils in our world today. And it is becoming more prevalent each day.
Since first becoming aware, we have run many awareness and fundraising campaigns with IJM, trying to help the public to sit up and pay attention to this crime.
But, honestly, we have found it to be very hard to move the needle.
In 2021, we helped IJM brand a fundraising dinner in Sydney. One of the speakers (via zoom) was Ruby.
I had actually worked on two campaigns with Ruby during the previous year. We wanted to raise awareness of the crime in the Philippines. But I had only ever heard a condensed version of her story – the highlights, so to speak.
That night Ruby spoke for a full 10 minutes.
As I listened to the details of her story, everything in the room disappeared. I was moved to tears. I could see my team were also deeply impacted by her story.
As I sat there, I wistfully wished the whole world could stop and take the time to hear her story in such detail.
I am so thankful for the team that came together to bring Finding Ruby to you.
As an agency that works with lots of not-for-profit organisations, one of our greatest frustrations is the continual request to boil stories down so that they fit on a 2-minute video, or in a letter or punchy social post.
It is, of course, a necessary evil of the type of work we do- because that’s how we as a society consume so much of our media these days. Short and to-the-point.
But when we do that, we lose all the nuance. We lose the chance to really get to know and empathise with the person or people we are learning about.
And we often lose the opportunity to really stop and reflect on ourselves and the part we can play in bringing good to the world around us.
A few months after that dinner, I started talking with a colleague from IJM, Lydia Bowden, about how wonderful it would be to tell Ruby’s full story on something like a podcast.
We sort of egged each other other on, and eventually took the idea (formally) to IJM.
I asked if they would allow me to do this as a passion project. Funded not by IJM, but by Cadence.
Their answer? Well, it’s really up to Ruby.
So we took this idea to Ruby and she was immediately on board.
Ruby is a powerful advocate for the survivors of OSEC. She uses her story, to draw the world’s attention to the crime.
She once told me that she is not proud of what happened to her, but she is grateful for it. Because now she can use it to help other children stuck in OSEC.
Though not a podcast listener herself she could see the power in what it could. So we began talking for hours on Zoom – slowly and carefully, and always with her a social worker and support worker present.
Around this time I asked author Nikki Florence Thompson to work with me on the project.
Like me, Nikki very quickly fell in love with Ruby’s story.
I can not tell you the number of times Nikki and I would send each other WhatsApp messages about how incredible this story is. The number of twists and turns unearthed in those discussions with Ruby was like something out of a movie.
Nikki is one of those people with an incredible ability to draw out the emotion of a moment. She worked tirelessly to help bring the immediate drama of Ruby’s story to life.
Ruby was the winner of the Woman of the Future Awards in 2021!
The IJM Philippines team, led by Evelyn Pingul, have been so supportive of this project. So much so, that they invited a small team of us to come and re-trace Ruby’s steps and speak with the other people involved in Ruby’s story.
It was here, during this trip that we realised that this podcast is not just about Ruby. It can’t be. Because there are so many others, from all over the world, who play such an integral part in it too.
This is where the name “The Fight of My Life” was born.
We realised that yes, Ruby was thrown into this fight, but so may others have willingly stepped into the fight alongside her. We want this podcast to honour them all.
This podcast has been a labour of love and a far bigger undertaking than I first thought.
It has cost us significantly to produce this, but as we often remind each other, entering into a fight like this will always be costly. Be it time, or money, or influence, or even just the willingness to enter into uncomfortable conversations with people, there will be a price to pay.
But though it costs, the reward – children being rescued and others protected from abuse in the first place – is of course worth any cost.
The wonderful team at Cadence have been so gracious in picking up the slack during this time. I am so thankful for their heart and their seemingly ever-expanding skill and creative talent.
This has not been an easy season, but I believe an eminently worthwhile one.
It is my deep hope that this podcast moves you in the same way I was moved on that night when I heard Ruby speak.
If it does, would you take a moment to rate and review and share it with your friends? We would love to get this story into as many ears as possible.
If you want to show us some love for "Finding Ruby" you can give us a one-off gift - think of it as a tip. That would help enormously as we self-funded the project (and, yeah... we kind of went all in on it).
Any contributions will help us pay off some of the production costs of the project.