Modern-Day Abolitionist: Rachel Dodson

By Chelsea Lankes, writer for Abolition International

Many of you may have heard about Abolition’s jewelry line Penh Lenh, but you may not know the girl who got the wheel turning. Rachel Dodson, a dreamer and courageous soul who had a heart for girls in need of hope and a future, began her work with AI in the spring of 2012. The idea of creating a jewelry line floated in theory for about a year and came to fruition in February 2013 when she became the torchbearer of this small business in Cambodia. The goal of the jewelry line is to help victims find their identity through creativity.

Dodson’s first visit to Cambodia was awe-inspiring. The crowded markets, coffee shops, the hustle and bustle all captivated her and enticed her heart. She knew after only three weeks that she would be back. It wasn’t just the city that stole her away though, it was also the girls she had the opportunity to work with. She saw their transformation as they began to take ownership in the creative process of this jewelry line. A passion to succeed, a drive for perfection, and an overall enthusiasm surfaced in the girls. Such a stark contrast to and act of blazing rebellion against the life of trafficking they had been subjected to.

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The act of creating and general work gave the girls a sense of purpose, but there were other elements that contributed to their renovation. Small acts of kindness on behalf of Dodson were so foreign to the girls. It’s shocking to know that what we find so trivial and almost entitled to, these girls find exceptional and surprising. The interaction she had with them sparked conversations that led to expression. Something we find so commonplace: the chance to dream. The Penh Lenh girls have never been afforded the right to dream because they were never given the chance to hope. This is the ultimate purpose of the jewelry line: to inspire hope and aspiration for a future in the survivors.

Though it’s Dodson’s job to motivate, teach, and inspire, the girls inspire her. God has worked on behalf of everyone involved in this small business. Dodson never really felt qualified for this job but she knew God called her to it because she made herself available to His will for her life. Though the job comes with many challenges and heartbreaks, the reward is far greater.

Dodson says, “I cannot imagine doing anything else right now. My relationship with God is the one thing that sustains me, truly. Those are not just nice words. He has shown me the true power of wonder working faith. Through working with the girls, I have learned what it means to be extravagantly generous. They do not own much, but what they do have, they would gladly give away. I think the biggest lesson God continues to teach me is that He fights for us, the battle is His, and the battle has already been won.”

Since working with AI in Cambodia, Dodson’s life is truly an adventure. Between eating mystery food, learning a different language, driving a moto, and even the general culture shock, life is one exciting moment after another. The thrill of winning hearts and minds through God’s love and giving victims a chance for a better life is the most exciting journey one could take. There are no rules when it comes to grace, and Dodson is all about living in a world where that grace abounds.

 

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Please visit our store and support Dodson and the girls of Penh Lenh. Your purchase is a source of infinite encouragement for a young but growing small business.

The Cycle of Trafficking, Vulnerability, Violence, and Poverty

By James Pond, Founder & CEO of Transitions Global

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One of the questions that often arises when we talk about our work with survivors is, “What is the root cause of sex trafficking?” This is a very complex question—not because it can’t be answered, but because the answer is multilayered. We have often heard the main cause of sex trafficking is poverty. While this is certainly a cause, the truth is much more complicated than that.

The problem with the overly simple answer of poverty is that it doesn’t take into account what I call “structures of injustice.” In the trafficking world, poverty can be a central theme, but when you look at sexual exploitation (particularly of children) the issue includes larger and often cyclical forms of violence.  These cycles create greater vulnerability, which ultimately determines the plight of girls, boys, and women around the world. These are also referred to as “push” and “pull” factors. In other words, what are the factors that push a person toward vulnerability and trafficking, and what are the things drawing or pulling someone into trafficking situations?

In both domestic and international sex trafficking, there are distinct predictive push and pull factors, which often surround violence: early childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault, exploitation, manipulation, and control. We see this in sex trafficking victims around the world. In the past 10 years, we have seen over 140 shelters and met with victims from 11 different countries. Through this experience, we began to see a clear composite emerge among all of the girls and women we encounter.

The trend goes something like this: Before the age of 7, they have been sexually abused and neglected by a family member or someone close to the family. By the age of 11, they have been sexually assaulted, exposed to domestic violence in their home, and have engaged in drug and alcohol abuse. By the age of 14, these experiences have created the perfect storm for sexual trafficking, exploitation, and abuse. Victims are conditioned through these factors to subject themselves to a cycle of sexual violence without a sense of self-value, a hope for freedom, or the ability to see a future outside of their trafficking situation.

If we can begin to recognize the cycle of trafficking, vulnerability, violence, and poverty, we may be able to see a way forward in preventing the trafficking of children and women around the world. In the meantime, our goal is to recognize all of these factors and how they affect a person at his or her core. One of the core values that drives how we care for survivors is that freedom without a future is simply another form of slavery. We have to undo all of the structural obstacles facing survivors and help them heal, but also build a new life of hope and opportunity, and create an environment that reduces or eliminates the vulnerability that put them there to begin with.

Our friends at International Justice Mission just put together this powerful video that shows what the world is up against as we work together to bring an end to the cycle of vulnerability, violence, and poverty. Watch it now: http://bit.ly/TLEveryday. #LocustEffect

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Learn more about The Locust Effect, a new  book  being released by our friend Gary Haugen, the founder of IJM. 

This Life Has Stolen My Beautiful

In 2013, Abolition International partnered with Heather Ebert and Redemption Stories to develop beautiful murals for Abolition International Shelter Association member Breaking Chains Network in Belgium.

Regina Lang, missionary associate with Breaking Chains, said that a common phrase she often hears from women working in the red-light district in Antwerp, Belgium, is “This life has stolen my beautiful.” The statement speaks to the profound ways that sexual exploitation harms a woman’s soul. The psychological and emotional damage enslaves a woman as strongly as any pimp or trafficker.

In this short video, Redemption Stories captured the spirit of the Belgium mural project, which was to create imagery that invited women to see themselves differently and offered hope for a better ending to the story. The video was generously produced by Media Change, a ministry whose mission is to capture the Kingdom of God on film.

To see more photos of the murals, visit www.redemptionstories.com.

This Life Has Stolen My Beautiful on Vimeo.

The Importance of Restorative Care

    Hailey and Andrea were both lured by predators and trafficked as adolescents. The young and handsome men who turned out to be traffickers wooed them with promises of a better life. The girls, however, didn’t know what that life would require of them.

    After being rescued at 16, Hailey was sent to several temporary care facilities, but none were specialized or equipped to handle the level of trauma she had endured. Without family support, education, or appropriate care and counseling, Hailey felt hopeless and spun back into a life on the street.

    Andrea was given a better opportunityShe was sent to a restorative care program that specialized in treating minors rescued from sex trafficking. She was welcomed into a loving community that was patient with her through each step of her healing process. Andrea received the best care she could have possibly gotten, and it was the first time in her life that people actually delivered to her what they promised.

   “I have, for the first time, experienced what love really looks like and I have learned what it means to love others.” – Andrea

We want more stories to be like Andrea’s.

    Restorative care is an urgent need in our nation and around the world. Consider giving a one-time gift before December 31st to help make sure more girls like Hailey and Andrea receive the specialized care needed for a hope-filled future.

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United States Restorative Care  or  International Restorative Care

 

 

Modern-Day Abolitionists: Seth Johnson & Family

By Chelsea Lankes, writer for Abolition International

The words “fundraiser,” “nonprofit,” and “charity” can all seem so underwhelming when we hear them. We throw them around in our vocabulary, and we hear them so often in the course of our lives that we forget exactly how important and meaningful they are.

Organizations like Abolition’s partner Transitions Global are especially impactful because they take the time to help those marginalized by society. Seth Johnson recognized the heart and purpose of Transitions Global’s Dream Home and has made it his life mission to find those hidden in the shadows of slavery. With compassion, he helps restore the hearts of those who have experienced the catastrophic consequences of human trafficking.

Johnson and his wife, Marlo, have dedicated their lives and family to supporting the Dream Home in Cambodia and to those it is committed to helping. They will never know “normal” but they are completely OK with that. They know the problem they are out to fight exists all over the world, but they have focused their attention on Cambodia. Johnson is the group’s advocacy director, which entails engaging different communities, raising awareness of human trafficking, and motivating people to get involved. The Johnsons have three little girls of their own. Knowing how precious and fragile their lives are serves as motivation to want to protect and serve other little girls who weren’t given the right to that same safety and love.

Transitions Global’s Dream Home focuses heavily on professional therapy to help girls with PTSD. The group also encourages each individual to dream about the future and discover what she is interested in, and then helps train her in those areas. Instead of training girls in one skill set, Johnson and the organization try to provide the girls with choices. As noble and qualified as this organization is, Johnson says it’s hard to find others who are willing to commit to the cause long term. His goal this year is to create more compelling fundraisers that aren’t just about wine and cheese. He wants to captivate larger audiences and pull the heart strings of listeners enough to help them realize the relevance of this issue and the desperate need for more abolitionists.

It’s important to remember the “human” part of human trafficking. These victims are not faceless; they have minds, hearts, feelings, and rights. This is Johnson’s main point. Everyone has the right to freedom, but some need help fighting for that right. Johnson has done so much in the last few years to help raise awareness for a cause that is just now gaining greater attention from the masses.

This holiday season, you can join the Johnson family and help finish the Dream Home expansion in Cambodia.  Give the gift of quality restorative care to young girls rescued from sex trafficking by giving a one-time gift of $100 or rallying 10 of your friends and family members to donate $10 each to finish the Dream Home expansion. Every $100 gift receives a limited edition TO BE FREE poster signed by Abolition’s founder, Natalie Grant.

Help make this dream a reality.

 

Celebrating 4 Graduates of the Dream Home in Cambodia

From Transitions Global in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

“After spending several years with Transitions, 4 of the Dream Home girls are ready to move on to the next step of their healing process–reintegration. This month Srey Lin, Molika, Bopah, and Srey Keo will be moving to the brand new STAR House. The girls spent a sunny Tuesday afternoon packing up their belongings and taking them to their new home. The new STAR House was recently renovated and is a cheery bright place with freshly painted walls and lots of natural light. There were some tears when saying goodbye to their friends and staff at the Dream Home, but the girls settled in quickly and had fun organizing and decorating their rooms to suit their personalities. The tears quickly turned into excitement! The next day, they reported that they were thrilled with their first night and spent the evening cooking and watching TV together. The STAR House is a transitional independent living facility for girls who have graduated from the program at the Dream Home, but still need assistance while finishing school or starting a job. They continue their regular visits with the social work team, counselors, and tutors. The STAR House allows girls to make an easier transition into adult life and practice their independent living skills in a supportive environment.

All of the girls are excited for the future and enjoying their newfound independence. Congratulations to Srey Lin, Molika, Bopah, and Srey Keo! They’ve worked hard! Read more about their transitions and dreams:

 Srey Lin – Srey Lin’s Dream is to own a beauty salon. She knew since childhood that this was her passion. She sees great importance in assisting people with their appearances so they can feel good about themselves. Her favorite part of a beauty salon is nail decoration so her shop would specialize in artistic nail art. Srey Lin personally likes to wear red polish with flowers in all colors. She will be finished with beauty school in 6 months and will be going on to train at a top Western salon where she will learn the skills necessary to earn a sustainable wage in this industry.

 

 

 

Srey Keo – Srey Keo’s dream is to become a chef at a top restaurant. Ultimately she wants to work at a high-end Italian restaurant. While livingat Dream Home she discovered her love of cooking. She also loved the cooking of the Dream Home house moms who inspired her to learn more. Her favorite dish to cook and eat is lasagna.

Srey Keo is in a 1-year cooking school program and will graduate in a couple months. She says the school has been wonderful and has she has learned to a lot including: Cambodian dishes, cupcakes, chocolate cakes, and lots of western food. She loves to cut vegetables and fruits to be decorations on the plate and to fold napkins into beautiful shapes.

 

Molika -Molika’s dream is to work in administration in an office. Molika was inspired by some of the administrators at Transitions and says she aspires to be confident and smart like them. She likes to use her brain and wants to work in a professional environment. She is currently taking classes in office administration.

Though Molika was sad to leave Dream Home, she is excited to use her new-found freedom to exercise more, especially running in the morning near the new house. Her hobbies are cooking and decorating her room, and at STAR House she will have a new ability to do that.

 

 

Bopha – Bopha’s dream is to start her own beauty salon. She loves the beauty salon environment and has great skills. She is saving to open a shop and says that she will work for many years to achieve this dream. She looks forward to graduating from beauty school early next year. Her favorite part of beauty school is doing hair and loves doing fancy curly hair for customers to make them beautiful everyday. She hopes to specialize in hair and makeup artistry. Bopha will also be training at a top Western salon in Phnom Penh. There, she will earn a sustainable wage and have opportunities for growth.

 

 

We’re so proud of the girls for graduating from the Dream Home and moving on to pursue their dreams! 

You can give the gift of quality restorative care to more girls like Srey Lin, Molika, Bopha, and Srey Keo by giving a one-time gift of $100 or rallying 10 of your friends or family members to donate $10 each to finish the Dream Home expansion.  Help make this dream a reality.  

 

Message from Natalie & Stacia – Pick Your Passion

Dear Friend,

Your support has truly made a difference in the lives of trafficking survivors like Andrea.

Thank you for choosing to stand with us in the fight against sex trafficking and exploitation. Without partners like you, we would not be able to give Andrea and other survivors the restorative care they need for a hopeful future.

At Abolition, we recognize that rescue is only the first step of a lifelong journey of healing. The quality of care, housing, counseling models, education, as well as reintegration strategies are all vital to a comprehensive approach to restorative care. Additionally, we realize that education without empowerment leads to frustrated communities and individuals who lack the tools to have a noticeable impact on trafficking. We believe combining education, empowerment, and comprehensive restorative care can bring an end to modern-day slavery.

Education saves lives and comprehensive restorative care works!

This year has been an important milestone in the mission of Abolition International. In 2013, we have:

  • Equipped more than 30 programs through the Abolition International Shelter Association (A.I.S.A.)
  • Continued training five domestic A.I.S.A. programs in trauma counseling
  • Developed the A.I.S.A. Accreditation Manual to guide organizations in restorative care
  • Empowered 1,421 U.S. healthcare professionals to identify and report trafficking
  • Reached over 15 million people through social media and educational programs

On September 17th we launched the Tennessee Model Home Project. This exciting initiative is the culmination of working with more than 30 restorative care programs over the past six years. The home will provide comprehensive restorative care for rescued adolescent girls, while creating valuable resources for more programs across the globe. The impact of this model home will be wide reaching.

As we move into 2014, we are advancing in three key areas to end modern-day slavery – education, empowerment, and comprehensive restorative care. We want you to have a direct impact in the area that aligns with your greatest passion. Click here for more information about 3 of our projects in these areas: Expanding the Dream Home in Cambodia, Developing the Tennessee Model Home, and Educating United States Healthcare Providers.

Pick your passion. Make a gift. Together we will have a larger impact in ending sex trafficking and exploitation in our world.

Together for freedom,

 

 

 

P.S. In this holiday season, please prayerfully consider making a gift today. Pick your passion and invite two friends to join you in making a gift this year.

 

Meet Sarah – An Abolitionist Community Inspiration

 

Sarah Overby, junior at Samford University, has been championing the TO BE FREE campaign on her campus this fall. So far she has raised over $710 to help expand the Dream Home in Cambodia. We asked Sarah to share a bit about her passion, success, and experience this fall. She responded with this beautiful video.

Sarah Overby from Logan Dillard on Vimeo.

 

You can join Sarah and bring the TO BE FREE campaign to your school. Email us to learn more.

Give the gift of quality restorative care and place to call home to young girls rescued from sex trafficking by giving a one-time gift of $100 or rallying 10 of your friends or family members to donate $10 each to finish the Dream Home expansion. Help make this dream a reality.

 

Empowering the Future of Healthcare to Help End Modern-Day Slavery

Earlier this month Abolition International’s Dr. Jeff Barrows led healthcare education events with Price of LIfe NYC at Lehman College, NYU, Columbia University, and Hunter College. At each school, medical and nursing students were educated on human trafficking indicators and protocols that should be in place for reporting.

Photo Courtesy of Price of Life NYC

Recent studies have shown that over half of trafficking victims encounter medical personnel while being trafficked. This eye-opening research has emphasized the need for healthcare professionals to be trained and empowered to report victims of human trafficking.

At the POL Healthcare Pillar Events, students were challenged to think through the work that needs to be done to abolish modern-day slavery, and how they want to respond in addressing the issue as it intersects with healthcare.

Students responded with heart-shaped pieces on a response board titled: “Healthcare at the Heart of Abolition.”

“After learning about human trafficking, it amazed me to see the statistics of it. I am in my senior year of nursing at Lehman and all I can think or hope is that one day the hospitals will work more cohesively together and more healthcare professionals will take initiative on this topic.”

“I’ve never known that healthcare providers can play a big role that can actually save human trafficking victims. I would like to share this information with other prospective healthcare providers and friends…”

“I am a medical student at Columbia…and a member of the Student Leadership Committee, meeting tomorrow to discuss ways to improve healthcare at NY Presbyterian (Hospital). I am going to suggest giving a training to physicians…especially in the ER, related to human trafficking. I am also going push for writing up a protocol to follow if a victim is encountered.”

Photo Courtesy of Price of Life NYC

Dr. Barrows stressed the importance of having a good protocol in place before intervening in a trafficking situation in the healthcare setting, for the safety of both victims and staff. Until a protocol is in place, the most important thing healthcare providers can do is report trafficking encounters to the appropriate agencies. Medical students are the future of healthcare. Empowering them to be able to identify and set up protocols for reporting may have huge implications for the fight against domestic trafficking. One student shared, “We are going to go out of here and share this with others. The effects will be wide reaching.” We hope they are indeed.

 

A Place To Dream

By Chelsea Lankes, Writer for Abolition International

We all want a safe place to call home. For some, childhood was spent in the luxury of that safety, that love. For others, home is a distant dream, and the place where they must live is a nightmare. Every human needs shelter from the brokenness of this world, and rightfully, every child. It’s heartbreaking to know that there are corners of this world that exist where children are denied their right to a home, to love.

The Dream Home was founded because James and Athena Pond experienced this firsthand. They saw children in Cambodia who had been hidden in the shadows of this brokenness, oppressed by captors of their bodies, their minds, and their hearts, who were tangled in the chains of sex slavery and in desperate need of a safe place to call home. So the Ponds created a program called the Dream Home where girls from ages 13 to 18 are placed after being rescued from sex trafficking and are provided safety in every sense of the word. The Ponds have employed a quality staff to meet every need that the girls experience, so that they can successfully begin to restore hope and security in each of the girls’ lives.

These precious children are now waking up to a haven. They are learning what it means to be loved and cared for. Their bodies are no longer used on behalf of a sick greed inside a perverted heart. Their bodies are healing; they are being nourished. Their minds are filled with the knowledge that they are valued, that they are human, and with that, they are capable of giving and receiving love. They now know what it feels like to be free and to have hope. They are allowed to dream. They have a place to call home.

You can give the gift of quality restorative care and place to call home to young girls rescued from sex trafficking by giving a one-time gift of $100 or rallying 10 of your friends or family members to donate $10 each to finish the Dream Home expansion. Help make this dream a reality.

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