"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible." ~ T. E. Lawrence
I hope you guys don’t start to think I’m bipolar, posting one day about fun weekend hikes and the next day about human trafficking issues. Bear with me, it’s all good stuff!
On Tuesday the anti-human trafficking group that I started working with, Hope4Justice, held their monthly meeting. We had some very special guests come and join us: Aaron and Leah Newcomb with Engedi Refuge Ministries. The Newcombs have been interning for the past year in a safe house and learning center for former prostitutes just across the Canadian border in British Columbia. They shared with us how their lives have been impacted by these beautiful, healing women. Most of the women have been homeless and living on the streets, struggling with drug and alcohol addictions, and emotionally rocked by the pain of abuse, rape, and abandonment. The Newcombs showed us photos of the safe house and told us these women (some as young as 14 years old) are recovering, gaining education, and being loved back to wholeness. At the safe house some of them experienced what it was like to be recognized with awards for the first time in their lives, some of them had their first ever Christmas with gifts, they’re learning to use computers for the first time, gain the high school education that they were denied, and received desperately needed counselling to heal a hurting soul. They’re learning how to pick up the pieces of a once broken life and walk in a place of strength, beauty, and conviction.
Most prostitutes (yes, even here in the U.S. and Canada) are recruited at the average age of 13. The majority of prostitutes right now are 14 years old. Most of them come from dysfunctional homes, were molested as children, and ran away to escape the terror of their home lives. They are then picked up by johns (pimps) who often promise to care for them, love them, and look after their needs. And then they are convinced, coerced, and even forced to give their bodies in exchange for money that will be taken from them. At a minimum, they will have 10 clients in a night, and sometimes as many as 30. How do they escape? And even if they do escape, where do they go?
The Newcombs learned of the horrors of human trafficking several years ago and wrestled with that question. With their internship complete, they are now working on the final plans to start a safe house and learning center right here in Whatcom County. This is exciting! There are so few places like this in the U.S. right now that only around 100 women IN THE COUNTRY can receive the help and services they need to recover. And there are at least 300,000 prostitutes out there. As Engedi gets underway and proves successful in this, other safe houses will hopefully be opened across the nation based on this working model. Lives changing, that’s what this is about!
Right now Engedi Refuge Ministries still has a lot of needs before they can open the doors of the safe house in March 2013. Everything from remodeling the safe house, to furnishing this house with basics like beds, to volunteers who can write grant letters, ask businesses for tax-deductible donations, staff the house, and teach skills.
This is a practical way to help with the problem of trafficking and I’m so excited to be involved! This is the latest on the trafficking front for me here in Bellingham. I’ll be sure to keep you all posted and if you want to help out too drop me a line or contact Engedi directly! http://www.engedirefuge.com/index.html
Also, I’m still working on fundraising for my own trip to aid prostitutes in Tel Aviv, Israel and need all the help I can get. Please, take a minutes to look over this letter and see if it’s something you’d be able to help me out with.