Continuing the Mission Amid Crisis

Continuing the Mission Amid Crisis

Dear Friend,

I hope this finds you and your family well and safe. We realize these are unprecedented times, filled with uncertainty. But even as we adjust to life during social distancing and work to overcome fear of the unknown, we are confident that we will see the best of humanity emerge.

Fred Rogers once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”

Be comforted that there are people tirelessly fighting for your good right now. Doctors and nurses, business owners and grocery store clerks, concerned family and neighbors are coming together to support you and offer the community help.

I hope that we can comfort you as well, as we fight for the freedom of oppressed men, women, and children in our city.

How is COVID-19 affecting our team and our mission?

Due to school closures and restrictions on large crowds, we’re forced to halt our programs for the next several weeks.

But we refuse to let this virus come between us and our mission. While COVID certainly affects us all, none are more affected than our most vulnerable at-risk children and those trapped in exploitation. Now more than ever, we need to care for trafficking survivors.

Additionally, to do our part to help flatten the curve, our team is working remotely for the next two weeks. But rest assured, we’re still responding to credible tips, connecting victims to care, and regularly calling our clients to meet their immediate and emotional needs.

We’re also using this time to prepare for the increase in care that is inveitably needed during and after a crisis.

We are:

  • Translating more materials to reach our Spanish-speaking neighbors,
  • Prepping for an influx of case-management needs; and
  • Improving our parent workshops to bring you the latest information on how to best protect your children.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Many of you have asked how you can help. While all of us are feeling the pressure of COVID-19, none feel it more than the vulnerable people we serve. We want to be ready to meet all their needs in the coming months. Funders are adjusting their giving schedule for the year, which means we don’t know if we’ll be able to operate at full capacity when we are needed the most.

Therefore, we are asking our supporters to please consider making a tax-deductible donation during this time to ensure care for those who are at-risk and for those who are currently being exploited.

Much love and peace,

Timeka Walker, LMSW | Executive Director
Clear Vision. Steady Pace. Bright Future.

Clear Vision. Steady Pace. Bright Future.

Dear Partner,

If you’re like us, you blinked and not only a new year, but an entire new decade appeared at your doorstep!

The past few years we’ve kept a laser focus on our goal to strategically expand and serve more victims, so within moments, a decade passed.

Yet, we are fully prepared and pumped to walk through that door, not simply because time ushers us, but because the synergy of our past victories, planning, and expansion joyfully compels us into the next season of serving.

In the past 10 years, our organization and the global fight for freedom dramatically grew to a well-developed movement. We have strong partners, clear strategy, and an unwavering commitment to end human trafficking.

We honor the incredible victories that paved our path into the next decade. 

Over the last ten years, we’ve had the pleasure of training over 100,000 individuals, including 65,000 of our city’s front-line professionals to recognize and respond to both sex and labor trafficking

In the last three years, we’ve connected 210 victims to resources to break free and trained 12,667 youth on how to stay safe from traffickers.

Additionally, we were honored when the FBI recognized our expertise in 2014 and presented UAHT with the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award.

That same year, we changed our name from the Rescue and Restore Coalition to United Against Human Trafficking. The Rescue and Restore Coalition is now a division of UAHT and an integral part of our fabric.

Our new name reflects our deep commitment to unifying an entire movement and creating a space where all are welcome to join the fight.

And what an honor it has been to serve alongside so many wonderful individuals!

UAHT staff, board, volunteers, donors, coalition partners, and so many more make the magic happen.

This past year especially exemplified the beauty of unity, inclusiveness, and diversity of thought. These characteristics are at the heart of everything we do. We provide a safe place for all to serve as well as honor the true heroes in the fight to end human trafficking—the survivors.

We are also thrilled to report that in 2019, our database to connect human trafficking service-providers officially launched. Dubbed “The Pathway,” it is the first system to harness the desire of service providers to collaborate in a tangible way.

It serves as a pathway to freedom for victims of human trafficking by ensuring they are connected to the resources that fight their specific needs.

Finally, it’s a great joy to announce we moved into our second location! Located in the East End, this space is dedicated to serving our clients as our direct services expands.

As 2020 launches, we are filled with gratitude and joy as we reflect on the past decade. We understand what a privilege it is to serve the most vulnerable in our society. As we serve, we bring freedom and justice to the forefront of the anti-human trafficking movement in Houston. We unite, lead, inspire, and transform the landscape of our great city. We’re committed to leading with grace and love, while eradicating the injustice of human trafficking.

We’re grateful you continue to stand alongside us in the fight to end human trafficking. Our vision is clear, our pace is steady, and our future is brighter than ever before!

With love and gratitude,

Timeka Walker, LMSW | Executive Director
The Fight to Survive: How Our Brains Protect Us

The Fight to Survive: How Our Brains Protect Us

Excited laughter and happy squeals morph into a single pain-filled screech. It pierces the humid summer air and suddenly my surroundings melt away.

Just a moment before, my hair flowed behind me in the cool wind. My fingers wrapped around the handlebars, one foot planted on the deck, the other launching me forward along the pavement. I trailed a few feet behind my older brother as he expertly crossed from one half of the driveway to the other on his blue scooter. I wanted to keep up and pulled my right handlebar back slightly.

In an instant, my front wheel caught in the concrete crack. The back wheel swung out as both the scooter and I toppled over.

Involuntarily, my hands released the handlebars and flew out in front of me, catching the full weight of my body as I let out a scream.

My wrist was fractured, but thankfully everything else – my head and torso – was unscathed.

A healthy response

When we experience stress, our brains jump into survival mode. It chooses action from instinct rather than thoughtful reasoning. Just as our bodies instinctively throw our hands down to protect our heads and heart when we fall, our brains’ instinct when we experience stress is to leave, resist, or shut down: flight, fight, freeze.

Everyone experiences these reactions:

You might feel rage course from your ankles to your head, heating every inch of your body, pressure building with every inhale until a deep growly yell erupts. That’s fight.

You might lose the ability to sit comfortably, fidgeting your fingers, squeezing your toes, readjusting your posture, as nausea slams your gut. That’s flight.

You might numb your senses to your surroundings, glazing your eyes and ears, racing through every terrifying scenario in your mind, yet incapable of uttering a word or twitching a finger. That’s freeze.

These are natural, normal, healthy responses to an abnormal, uncomfortable, stressful situation.

stuck in survival mode

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Is Human Trafficking the Worst It’s Ever Been?

Is Human Trafficking the Worst It’s Ever Been?

The human trafficking hotline has received more reports of human trafficking than ever before.

In its first year, the hotline received just over 3,000 reports of human trafficking in the U.S. The hotline became inundated with calls as years passed, reaching 10,949 reports in 2018.

It’s heartbreaking to know so many calls are flooding in with reports of human trafficking. The lives of those exploited are ravaged by this human rights violation. Our clients report going without food and living in homes without walls, forced into harsh labor environments and sexual compliance. Human trafficking unfolds in our hometown and those enduring this horrific reality demand our empathy and action.

As reports of unthinkable abuse climb, many people fearfully conclude that traffickers are winning – that human trafficking is the worst it has ever been. Truthfully, they might be right. We instinctively feel overwhelmed and powerless. But these numbers have an upside: you are exposing this hidden crime.

The first conclusion:

Human trafficking is the worst it’s ever been

It’s true – there have been more reports to the hotline than ever before, with Texas reporting the second most cases each year.

Just like you, we see articles on human trafficking flood websites – some stories are so close to home. We see girls who picked up cameras and shared their near kidnapping experiences on social media, warning against traffickers.

It’s tempting to assume that more reports mean that trafficking is happening more than ever. It’s easy to slip into fear, constantly looking over your shoulder.

But we believe that these reports indicate an increase in community awareness and action. And now, we have the resources and networks to support the survivors that we do find. 

The second conclusion:

Human trafficking is being fought harder than ever before

(more…)

7 Holiday Gifts that Fight Human Trafficking

7 Holiday Gifts that Fight Human Trafficking

“What can I do to help fight human trafficking?”

It’s the most common question we hear from you, our motivated community.

Every day, you can disrupt the cycle of abuse. You can change lives through gift giving. You don’t need to work at a non-profit or receive special training. Shopping for friends, family, and even a treat for yourself, ensures that survivors stay free and abuse ends.

How is shopping a solution?

Buying gifts from brands that pay fair wages, hire survivors, and invest in their community, keeps people free. You ensure that a farm worker can provide for her family and that a sex trafficking victim can stay away from his captor.

Imagine a creative and skilled survivor just learned that someone purchased a necklace made by her hands. A smile lights up her face as she remembers she is loved and capable because you choose to buy her craft – rather than her body.

Each purchase is an encouragement to press on into pursing a fair and free future. We’ve made it easy for you to fight human trafficking through gift giving. Look at our fun list below. There is something for everyone!

for the chocolate lover

Guilt free chocolate is a favorite for everyone. This decadent chocolate made in Sugar Land, Texas is not only fair trade, but delicious! This handcrafted chocolate is sure to be loved by your kids, spouse, or friend.

If you’re not feeling adventurous with the raspberry flavor, they keep stocked with the standards – milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and white chocolate. They even have a KETO chocolate bar for your health-conscious friends and other fruit flavors to try!

for the fashionista

The fashionistas in your life know that bold headwraps are an essential accessory for this season. The Sparrow Studio has this ideal Egyptian Fan Headwrap for just $14 dollars. You don’t have to choose between inexpensive or ethically sourced. A cooperative of 27 talented, creative women in Kigali, Rwanda handmake these accessories. These hard working are women are creating a business that fuels hope in their community.

These headwraps make a perfect stocking stuffer! Check out all the colorful patterns. Smaller sizes are available for young kids.

for  him

Treat the man in your life to this classy shave bag. Why? This purchase provides a sustainable source of income for survivors! Hilltop of Hope by Sugar Creek Baptist Church is dedicated to restoring victims of human trafficking in the red light districts of South Asia. All of the profit allows them to escape their captors and rebuild their lives.

for the kids

This fun hat is crafted by refugee women in Houston. Ending exploitation also means supporting the people traffickers target. The Community Cloth provides training and peer support for displaced women. This expands market opportunities for refuges as they create homes in an unfamiliar country. Warm your little one with these sweet, cozy hats. This is just one of the many kinds of clothing, home goods, and accessories that these hardworking women create.

for the techie

We all know techies care about details. These computer sleeves have a top zipper computer compartment with extra padding on back. The front zipper compartment has three net pockets for cords and accessories. Coming in all kinds of colors, patterns, and sizes, there’s a perfect one for the technical person you want to treat. The women at Hilltop of Hope are not only survivors of sex trafficking, they are advocates returning to the red-light district to give hope to other victims.

for the party host

It seems like everywhere you turn, there is a subscription box coming out. Food, clothes, books, and accessories are just a few examples. But what about a subscription that serves survivors of human trafficking here in Houston? Every month you’ll receive a beautiful candle, each one made by a trafficking survivor in our city. If you know someone who lights a candle for every occasion, this is the gift for them.

Elijah Rising provides long-term care for adult survivors of sex trafficking. They teach candle-making and business skills to survivors. These survivors are building a sustainable career and a bright future.

for her

Heirlooms are valuable because they tell the story of someone that is meaningful. This beautiful necklace is not only made by a trafficking survivor in the U.S., but it has the maker’s initials inscribed on it. When you receive the necklace, you can visit the website and read that survivor’s story. The best part? You can even send an encouraging message to the survivor who made your jewelry!
Skip the shipping lag time by visiting A 2nd Cup in the Heights! Grab a cup of fair trade coffee and peruse their store; you’ll find many of these brands there!

You can feel good about these gifts, knowing that they prevent abuse and support survivors.

From all of our team, have a wonderful and restful holiday season!