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Help for the Victims of Human Trafficking

Kathy Bruins

Article originally from Help for the Victims of Human Trafficking

Becky McDonald will never forget the day a woman ran into their headquarters, trying to escape from her trafficker. The woman was scared to death. McDonald hid her in the conference room and began trying to find help for her. This was very frustrating because McDonald called 18 different organizations, as each could only help with a piece of what she needed. The woman was in bad shape physically and emotionally, and to think she had to go to 18 different places for help was … no help at all. She had no car or resources. She had kids. McDonald bought her a walker because of the torture done to her.

 Helping victims has been a passion for Becky McDonald for over 30 years. Her organization, Women At Risk (W.A.R.) has been in operation since 2006. They have safe houses all around the world. She never thought she would have to build one in West Michigan, but there was a need and they built it. So far, six have been rescued who have been sold, scammed, tricked, abused, or sold by their own mothers in their own bedrooms.

 The organization reaches out to women and children in various ways. They have reached out to women and built trusting relationships helping them escape the trafficker’s grasp. They have done emergency interventions, such as when a baby was rescued by a partnering safe house and has now been adopted into a safe home.

 Women are also rescued from police raids. This is a more effective way to rescue women and children if they are chained or closely guarded by the traffickers.Prevention is another method WAR uses. Women have received resources from WAR as micro-loans and scholarships. WAR steps in to support people that are in the greatest risk.

 The mission statement for WAR is, “Our passion is to offer a safe place to turn crisis into hope, where women can be rescued, restored, and empowered to walk with dignity.”

 For more information, please contact Becky McDonald, Women At Risk International, 616-855-0796 or info@warinternational.org.

 The Manasseh Project (pic of Andy Soper)

 The 13 year old girl made an impression on Andy Soper’s heart. She had been trafficked and was running away again from a Wedgwood program. They went to look for her, but they wondered what they could do to help the girl get out of the situation. They never found her and were ill-equipped at that time to address her needs and trauma. That’s when the Manasseh Project was created.

 The Manasseh Project was started two years ago after much research into the problem of human trafficking. Their mission is to be an outreach ministry of Wedgwood Christian Services dedicated to ending the sexual exploitation of young men and women in West Michigan. Through community education and collaboration, The Manasseh Project provides support for victims of human trafficking and empowers the people of West Michigan to end modern day slavery.

 When children victimized by human trafficking are brought to Wedgwood, they undergo an assessment trying to get a case and medical history, educational history, and find out if the family is supportive of the child or if they are trafficking the child themselves. The goal is to give the child back their childhood, and bring them up socially so that they walk out the door whole again. They receive the care they need through group therapy, counseling services, and residential treatment.

 The Manasseh Project also reaches out to public servants to educate them on the issues of human trafficking. Police, counselors, teachers, etc. are the first responders to a victim. The project also empowers youth to recognize human trafficking in their community through education. This will lessen the risk of future victimization. In high-risk areas, there are special groups that educate.

 The Manasseh Project also invites churches, social groups, organizations, institutions of higher learning, and businesses to raise awareness and funding for anti-human trafficking programs. They work with these groups to find solutions to this “selling of human life.”

 For more information on The Manasseh Project, please contact Andy Soper, 616-942-2110 or Manasseh@wedgwood.org.