The World Day Against Trafficking in Persons is observed annually on July 30th. This is to raise awareness about human trafficking and to promote and protect the rights of trafficked victims. According to the US Department of Homeland Security “every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide involving the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.“
Tying Vines, through our Work of Worth retail platform and through our project WalkWithMe.global, is helping those who have experienced being trafficked or who are at risk of being trafficked in several ways. As prevalent and widespread as this dark industry is, there is hope and help.
Tim Girgis, our director of Work of Worth, told of the work being done in India where large-scale sex trafficking and forced labor is rampant. Our Work of Worth suppliers there offer work with dignity to survivors of trafficking and to those vulnerable to trafficking, as well as offering counseling, healthcare, and safe living conditions. All of this contributes to the healing of survivors and prayerfully to their eventual ability to thrive. Another goal of Work of Worth is to “raise awareness to the reality of human trafficking and its devastating effects. Every item in the store is a conversation starter, an opportunity to educate others about the issues and what they (we) can do to help…. Every artisan we support, every product we sell, and every conversation we start brings us one step closer to a world where dignity and respect are not commodities to be bought and sold, but fundamental rights.“
In other parts of the world young girls are vulnerable to trafficking as they are fleeing conflict, persecution, and poverty. It is here where Walk With Me is hard at work. For the many survivors or at-risk women who encounter Walk With Me in these parts of the world – there is sanctuary. We provide safe community center environments filled with hope and healing. Also, rehabilitation homes available to these women and girls offer secure spaces and a place to escape the dangers of their pasts. They have access to medical treatment and ongoing healthcare to address physical injuries, illnesses and trauma related health issues, and even trauma informed counseling and therapy. To empower survivors there are educational programs, literacy classes and vocational training. Workshops and empowerment programs encourage survivors to rediscover their self-worth and develop a positive self-image. This is a crucial step in their journey toward recovery and independence. Also essential to the programs are the recreational activities and creative expression sessions through art therapy, music therapy, and sports. These programs help provide survivors with healthy outlets for emotions and stress relief.
These are some of the ways that Tying Vines is working to combat the devastating effects of global human trafficking. It is daunting but there are glimmers of hope. Walk With Me reported that they have seen the average marriage age for girls in some of their programs go from 13 to 18. This is a big win as early marriage in refugee camps is itself a form of trafficking. Some families force their daughters into early marriage due to financial or social pressures. These early marriages expose young girls to various forms of abuse, including physical, emotional and sexual. They are often subjected to domestic violence and lose control over their own lives and decisions. We celebrate the hope these girls and women are finding through our Tying Vines programs.