3 Survivors You Helped in 2019

3 Survivors You Helped in 2019

As we near the end of 2019, we want to say thank you. Your support throughout the year ensures that we can work in our community, helping people understand human trafficking and supporting those who have endured it. You are the reason that it’s possible.

Because of you, 89 victims are reciving care.

Because of you, over 8,000 community members can spot and report trafficking.

Because of you, over 3,000 teenagers can protect themselves from traffickers.

We can’t wait to share a few stories of the people you helped in 2019:

Zoe

Sitting in her principal’s office, Zoe’s knee bounced rapidly as she uttered the scariest words to ever escape her mouth, “I need help.”

Zoe was being trafficked and she knew 3 other girls who were too.

Due to a complicated family life, Zoe always wore the same dirty clothes and never seemed to wear deodorant. She ran away from home a few times and frequently skipped school.

At just 12-years-old, Zoe caught a boy’s interest. He showered her with new clothes, shoes, and credit cards. Soon, she became his girlfriend. Zoe longed to leave her troubled home and fully commit to her generous boyfriend.

In the veil of darkness, she crept out her front door to her boyfriend’s car, leaving home for good. Then everything changed.

The boy sold Zoe for sex at a hotel on the Southwest side of Houston. Night after night, men raped her while her boyfriend profited.

Two years later, Zoe attended one of our youth workshops at her school. (Yes, while being trafficked she still attended school like any other teenager!) She learned what human trafficking was and realized that was her story. Although confused and scared, she didn’t ask for help – yet.

After enduring life with her pimp for another year, she was desperate to get out.

Remembering our workshop, she knew exactly where she could find help. She confided in her principal and asked to speak to us. As soon as she got a call from the principal, Au’Vonnie, our Youth Specialist, leapt into action. She rushed to the school to meet with Zoe and patiently listened to her heart wrenching story. Au’Vonnie connected Zoe to people who gave her a place to rest, warm food, clean clothes, and counseling.

As you read this, Zoe has a safe place to sleep. Now she has an advocate. Now she has someone she can trust. All because of YOU.

Robert

As Robert munched on his BBQ sandwich, he soaked in the sounds around him: upbeat music playing over the loudspeakers, birds chirping, cars whizzing past on the freeway.

Amid it all, he overheard a young woman, “labor trafficking is when someone forces or tricks you into doing something you don’t want to do so they can make money.”

Robert didn’t know anyone at the plastic table, but he piped up anyway, “Hey! Labor trafficking… I think that’s what’s happening to me.”

The young woman introduced herself, “I’m Briana; I work for an organization that can help. Tell me what’s going on.”

Living on the streets, Robert found an opportunity that would improve his fortune. A man offered him a construction job. The pay included wages, a place to sleep in a new home, food to eat, and laundry services. Robert excitedly accepted the position.

He moved into the house, yet realized it was barely a house. No walls, no sheetrock, it was just wooden beams and insulation. Robert’s boss promised that it would be finished soon. But for now, if he wanted a job, he would have to live there and share the space with others.

Robert labored outside in the Houston heat, constructing homes and beautifying landscapes, but his boss refused to provide food or water. Dehydrated and hungry, Robert couldn’t even afford to buy his own lunch because his boss withheld most of Robert’s paycheck for “rent and miscellaneous charges.”

Exhausted, Robert finally had enough. He quit. Robert’s boss demanded he gather the necessary belongings for the day and come back later for the rest. But when Robert tried to retrieve the rest of his belongings, the boss threatened to keep everything unless Robert agreed to work for him again.

After our Outreach Specialist Briana listened to Robert’s story, she connected him to the Department of Labor, which is currently reviewing his case in hopes of getting Robert’s wages back.

Today, Robert has a new job working for a fair and kind employer who gives him a ride to work and provides lunch. Now, Robert affords his own safe apartment—one filled with more than just wooden beams and insulation, but with a cozy bed and a kitchen.

 

Yet there are thousands of men in Houston with a similar story as Robert’s. We know you are as outraged as we are at this injustice. Will you give a gift to help end their exploitation and give them a chance to experience the freedom we all enjoy?

Rene

“Here’s how you can contact us at UAHT,” Sarah concluded, gesturing to the screen.

The crowd, full of non-profit workers and government employees, slowly stowed away their note pads and pens and traipsed through the door. Except for one person.

Rene quickly strode to the front of the room, where Sarah just turned off the projector. Her eyebrows lowered with concern as she whispered, “I think one of my girls is being trafficked.”

Rene works for the Juvenile Probation Department and alarm bells went off in her head as she listened to our Education Coordinator Sarah highlight red flags of trafficking. Rene recalled a 14-year-old girl in her care who was known for running away, skipping school, and leaving in the middle of the night. On her forearm was a tattoo of a man’s name.

“What can I do?” Rene asked with hope in her voice.

Rene set up a time for our Youth Specialist, Au’Vonnie, to meet the girl. After sharing her story, it was clear—she was a victim of trafficking.

Au’Vonnie connected the girl and her parents to an advocate who is guiding her through the long-term recovery process. She’s safe because Rene attended our training and knew what to look out for.

Because of generous supporters like you, we train thousands of people to engage in this fight within their current work.

We are deeply grateful for your impact in these survivors’ lives. As we approach the season of giving, will you ensure the gift of freedom for our men, women, and children? Your support means more people like Zoe, Robert, and Rene live free from exploitation.

3 Fair Trade Halloween Candy That Are Affordable

3 Fair Trade Halloween Candy That Are Affordable

Halloween is just around the corner! As you stock up on candy for Trick or Treaters, consider offering fair trade treats!

We know that finding fair trade halloween candy can be challenging, and when you do find ethically-sourced treats, they can be quite expensive! So we made it easy and did the research for you. Here are 3 affordable candy options that don’t use slave labor:

1. Skull & Ghost Lollipops
by Wholesome

These perfectly themed lollipops are just $12.99 for 30 suckers! 

Based on the simple idea that the products we buy and sell are connected to the livelihoods of others, fair trade is a way to make a conscious choice for a better world.” – Fair Trade Certified

2. Halloween Gummy Snacks by Surf Sweets

Gummy snacks are a great alternative to hard candies or chocolate! You get 20 packs of these spooky snacks for $20.

“Demand quality, not just in the product you buy, but in the life of the person who made it.” – Orsola de Castro

3. Milk Chocolate Minis
by Equal Exchange

You can’t go wrong with classic milk chocolate bites! Get 150 pieces for $32!

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” – Orsola de Castro

We hope you enjoy these fair trade candies! Have you found any other affordable fair trade Halloween candy that we should know about? Let us know!

 

Wishing you a happy, safe, and fair Halloween!  

3 Things We Teach Parents of Trafficked Children

3 Things We Teach Parents of Trafficked Children

You’re in a field.

Suddenly, a venomous green snake sinks his fangs into your ankle. You rush to the hospital and after an excruciating procedure, you are released. The next week, you walk across your lawn and see a winding, green snake in the grass.

You scream as you dash through the door. A wave of heat courses across your body and your heart pounds against your collarbone as you gasp for air.

You peek out the window and notice that the snake didn’t move. Squinting your eyes for a closer look, you realize it was a garden hose.

This is trauma.

The fear is real, but the hose isn’t dangerous. A trafficking survivor responds the same way when confronted with reminders of their horrific exploitation.

Their trauma doesn’t end when they escape. Their minds continue to process the world through the lens of their exploitation. They must be guided through their healing journey and parents play a crucial role in their recovery. Yet most of us as parents have little understanding of trafficking, much less the best way to help our exploited children.

That’s why we created a weekly support group for parents of trafficked children. In this group, parents not only glean strength from others who share similar experiences, but they learn how to rebuild after trafficking. There are 3 key points we share with parents of trafficked children.

(more…)

Boys: Too Tough to be Trafficked?

Boys: Too Tough to be Trafficked?

The bell rings. Moments later, a horde of boys bound into the locker room, tossing their clanking back packs in their lockers. Just outside, the goal posts anticipate the rhythmic pounding of cleats running towards them on the field.

But it has to wait- this is more important. (more…)