Do you remember being 11 years old? You were probably in 5th grade, learning what a prime number was, still trying to get a handle on what all this puberty business is about and, if you were me, not understanding most of what happened in Forrest Gump.
You were innocent; you were fragile; the world was still a mystery.
This will blow your mind: the average age of entry into sex trafficking is between 11 and 14 years old. Yep, it’s happening right here in America. Young girls are being coerced into the sex trade and enslaved. They are exploited, beaten down, forced to do things they never would have agreed to. They are enslaved; they cannot escape, and if they could, where would they run?
They should be in elementary school.
When human trafficking victims are recruited at that age – the average age of entry – their life expectancy from that point is seven years.
That could have been you or me, but for the grace of God.
Stick with me here – we’re getting to DIY/decorating stuff in just a second. The more I’ve learned about human trafficking, the more stunned and helpless I’ve felt. The problem is enormous. There are an estimated 300,000 sex trafficking victims here in the U.S. In Atlanta, where I live, it’s especially rampant.
But guess what! You and I are going to do something to help. Something very, very small in the grand scheme, but it’s something. We’re going to give them a comfortable place to land.
I’m partnering with the Atlanta Dream Center’s ministry called Out of Darkness, which aims to reach, rescue and restore victims of commercial sex exploitation. Here’s how it works: the victims call Out of Darkness and they are rescued – picked up from wherever they are, at whatever hour of the day or night – and taken to a safe house in the Atlanta area.
At the safe house, they’re given rest. Refuge. Safety. Hope.
They get new clothes, medical care, love and support. They stay at the safe house for a couple weeks while Out of Darkness works to find them a long-term placement where they can recuperate, heal and rehabilitate.
We’re going to make over a room in the safe house for these girls! I’m so excited about this. The safe house at Out of Darkness is called the Solomon House. It’s a place of refuge for victims of sex trafficking, where they can come straight off the streets. Out of Darkness is renovating the Solomon House basement to make new rooms where they can take in more girls, and we’re going to fancy up one of the rooms, make it comfortable and cozy and a place of refuge and rest.
This is the room now:
It’s teeny-tiny and it needs to have room for two ladies to sleep at a time. We have carte blanche!
This is going to be a relatively quick project too: the whole thing has to be complete by the end of the month! I’m a little nervous about the deadline, but we’re going to make the decisions together and give them a room that feels welcoming.
I’ll show you the rough outline of a plan in the next post and we’re going to do this thing! (Quickly!)
Are you in?